In collaboration with the Owl Academy Kent, learners were given the exciting opportunity to take part in an Owl experience day at HMYOI Cookham Wood.
The intention behind the experience day was not only to offer an educational experience but also to create a therapeutic environment through positive engagement with animals.
Providing new opportunities to engage learners in education
The activity ran over the course of two days, where Owl Academy members brought an engaging array of animals, including; snakes, tarantulas, skunks, owls and praying mantises into the establishment.
The first day commenced with an introduction to the Owl Academy members and an overview of the animals they brought with them. The experts provided brief educational sessions on each animal, offering insights into their habitats, behaviours, and unique characteristics. This phase of the activity laid the educational foundation for the rest of the experience.
Providing educational benefits through interactive sessions
With the help and guidance from the Owl Academy members, learners then had the opportunity for hands-on interactions with the animals. This phase was crucial in translating theoretical knowledge into practical understanding, promoting a deeper connection with the animal kingdom.
Building on the knowledge gained on the first day, the second day focused on reinforcing key concepts and providing opportunities for deeper engagement. Learners were encouraged to ask questions, share their observations, and express their feelings about the animals. The learners spent more time with the animals at their own pace, facilitating a sense of safety and trust, with the Owl Academy experts on hand to provide support and answer any questions that arose.
The educational impact was evident in the increased knowledge and understanding of the diverse animal species amongst the learners. Through direct interactions, they gained insights into the characteristics and behaviours of the animals and were given the opportunity to learn and engage at their own pace. This hands-on experience went beyond traditional classroom learning, providing a tangible and memorable educational encounter.
The experience days also had a therapeutic impact on learners. Interacting with animals has a calming effect, and for children who may have experienced trauma, the experience provided a therapeutic outlet. Learners exhibited a sense of calmness and relaxation in the presence of the animals, contributing to emotional regulation and stress reduction.
The enrichment activity was a huge success, leaving a lasting impression on the learners, staff, and the overall custodial environment.
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