Spring and summer sessions

School Sessions on the Downs

During spring and summer, the meadow areas are growing tall and are alive with wild flowers, chicks are preparing to fledge, and the whole environment is buzzing with invertebrates.

Your class might find themselves searching for minibeasts, on a wild flower treasure hunt or finding out what plants need to grow in our ‘hairy conservationists’ session. They might test their sleuthing skills on our mammal detectives trail, or discover fascinating facts about trees on our tree trail. They can also learn about our fabulous peregrine falcons, explore butterfly lifecycles or use all of their senses to discover the extraordinarily diverse wildlife of the Gorge and Downs.

National Curriculum links

Our sessions have the following curriculum links: KS1 & KS2: Working scientifically; Living things and their habitats; Plants; Animals, including humans. The sessions outlined can be adapted to your requirements.


Butterfly lifecycles

First there was an egg, then a caterpillar. What comes next?
Through storytelling, role playing and a giant butterfly costume, discover the lifecycle of the common blue butterfly, from egg to adult, all in its natural habitat. Learn how butterflies smell with their antennae and taste with their feet, the specific food sources that each butterfly needs and perhaps get a closer look at the real thing!

Suitable for: Early years and KS1

Discover the Downs

Which bird sings ‘teacher, teacher’?
Use your senses to discover the Downs! Make smelly plant cocktails, search for squishy, smooth and tickly treasures, listen for the sounds of the Downs and find out what the world would look like if you were a minibeast! Discover the Downs enables children to develop their knowledge and understanding of the natural world in a creative and stimulating way.

Suitable for: Early years and KS1


Why does a woodlouse live in a wood?
Discover what minibeasts require in order to survive in our lively ‘Ladybird needs’ game. Creeping quietly into the woodland, we think about which minibeasts might live here. Then it’s time to explore! Using investigative and identification skills* we share our finds and see if our predictions were correct. We end by looking at a couple of example food chains.
(*Older children use identification keys)

Suitable for: KS1 and KS2

Mammal detectives

Whose poo is this?
Children test their nature detective skills as they follow a trail of nibble marks on seeds, strange footprints, nests and even different poo. Can they work out and name which mammals were here by following the clues they leave behind?

Suitable for: KS1 and KS2

Fabulous peregrine falcons and food chains

How quickly do peregrine chicks grow?
Discover how the fastest animal on the planet lives and breeds, and how it’s adapted to be a super successful predator. Children gain first-hand experience of the food chain as they fly for their lives in our ‘Peregrine-pigeon’ game! Our resident peregrines may even put in an appearance!

Suitable for: KS2

Hairy conservationists

How can goats help the Bristol onion?
Explore what plants need in order to survive. Through storytelling and role play, learn how our famous goats are helping to save rare plants in the Avon Gorge. Children will be given the chance to become trainee goat checkers and, using binoculars, report back to the group on the health and happiness of these hairy conservationists. The session will include simple food chains. Older children can explore how the goats are adapted to this habitat and observe how environmental change can spell disaster for some living things.

Suitable for: KS1 and KS2

These sessions are run in partnership with Natural England as part of the Higher Level Stewardship Educational Access Scheme.

Tree trail

What’s this tree called?
Learn to identify and name trees by their leaves. Discover fascinating facts about the importance of trees to both humans and wildlife. Through our ‘build-a-tree’ role play, everyone in your class will have fun learning about the functions of different parts of a tree.

Suitable for: KS1 and KS2

For Years 3 and above, this session also includes our Tree Tribes session…

Tree tribes

Discover intriguing tales and fascinating folklore as your children become part of their very own tree tribe. Each tribe researches a different tree species and shares their discoveries through plays, raps, poetry or song.

NC links: English – Spoken language

Suitable for: KS2

Wild flower treasure hunt

What’s that flower called?
Children will learn to name wild flowers on our meadow treasure hunt. They’ll follow clues to find a treasure chest containing a map that will lead them to the long-lost Bristol onion! They’ll explore what plants need to grow, the names and roles of different plant parts and find out about pollination in our ‘Busy buzzy bees’ game.

Suitable for: KS1 and KS2

For further information and to book a session, contact us at:

Mandy Leivers
Avon Gorge and Downs Biodiversity Education Manager
E: mleivers@bristolzoo.org.uk

Learning Department, Bristol Zoo Gardens,
Clifton, Bristol, BS8 3HA

T: 0117 903 0609 / 0117 4285460

Health & Safety Considerations

We carry out risk assessments for all sessions that we run.
We are trained first aiders.
There are two toilet blocks on the Downs (at Seawalls and at the Water Tower).

Why not combine your trip to the Downs with a visit to the Clifton Suspension Bridge?

Learn about wildlife and habitats in the morning, have a picnic lunch and then visit the Suspension Bridge in the afternoon.

All photographs © Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project.