HELLO! WELCOME TO COLCHESTER ZOO

Home Education Classes

Free educational sessions for home educated children

These sessions are aimed at families who home educate. If you are a teacher at a school, please see our school page for more details (click here). Sessions are free to attend, but require pre-registration. Unregistered children will not be allowed to participate. Home education classes are designed to build on one another, and you can (if registered) attend all the age-appropriate sessions, or if you prefer, just register for one or two.

These sessions do not include entry to the zoo. Participants must arrange entry separately either by paying standard entry fees (click here for prices), organising themselves with 15 people to qualify for our group rates (click here for group details), or using zoo passes (click here for pass details) (recommended if you plan on attending more than one session) to gain entry to the zoo.

Sessions will run multiple times each month, but the topic will be the same regardless of session date or time.

5-7 year old sessions will run three times a month on Mondays at 12:00-12:45 AND 1:00-1:45 and Wednesday at 12:00-12:45 (FULLY BOOKED). Each session lasts approximately 45 minutes.

7-11 year old sessions will run three times a month on Monday at 2:00-2:45 (FULLY BOOKED) and Wednesday at 1:00-1:45 AND 2:00-2:45. Each session lasts approximately 45 minutes.

11-16 year old sessions will run two times a month on Monday at 3:00-4:00 and Wednesday at 3:00-4:00. Each session lasts approximately 60 minutes.


Session Dates for 2018-19:

  • September – Monday 10th & Wednesday 12th
  • October – Monday 1st & Wednesday 3rd
  • November – Monday 5th & Wednesday 7th
  • December – Monday 3rd & Wednesday 5th
  • January – Monday 7th & Wednesday 9th
  • February – Monday 4th & Wednesday 6th
  • March – Monday 4th & Wednesday 6th
  • April – Monday 1st & Wednesday 3rd
  • May – Monday 13th & Wednesday 15th

See below for the specific topics covered at each session. Click on any of the session titles or scroll down the page for a more detailed description of each session including key points covered.

Scheduled sessions for ages 5-7 are:

Classes for age 5-7 meet on Mondays at 12:00-12:45 & 1:00-1:45 and Wednesday at 12:00-12:45 (FULLY BOOKED) (see above for specific dates).
These classes last 45 minutes.

Scheduled sessions for ages 7-11 are:

Classes for age 7-11 meet on Mondays at 2:00-2:45 (FULLY BOOKED) and Wednesdays at 1:00-1:45 & 2:00-2:45 (see above for specific dates).
These classes last 45 minutes.

Scheduled sessions for ages 11-16 are:

Classes for age 11-16 meet on Mondays from 3:00-4:00 and Wednesdays from 3:00-4:00 (see above for specific dates).
These classes last 60 minutes.


Class registration:

Registration opens 11th June at 9am

Registration forms submitted before this time will not be accepted.

Participants must be registered a minimum of 2 days prior to the class. Please fill in this registration form (click here for form) and send via email to education@colchesterzoo.org to register for the sessions. After your booking form has been received by our education team, you will be sent a confirmation email to the email address you provided confirming your registration for the sessions.


Terms and Conditions:

Age to Attend Sessions: The sessions are divided into different age groups because this lets us tailor the session to include terminology and activities which are better suited to different age ranges. However, the ages we provide are just guidelines of where we will be targeting the information/activities, not firm requirements. To ensure the smooth running of the session, and for the benefit of all participants, we request younger/older children do not attend if they would be disruptive to the rest of the group.

Adult Supervision: All children attending sessions must be accompanied by an adult.

Minimum Class Size: Colchester Zoo reserves the right to cancel a class, no less than 4 days prior to the first class of the month, if registration is under five participants. In this event, you will be notified via the email you provided when you registered. You will also be given the option to attend the other date the same session is offered (e.g. if the Monday session is cancelled you would be offered a space in the Wednesday class if you so wish).

Maximum Class Size: Classes have a maximum of 25 participants. If a class is full, you will be put on a waiting list and contacted if there are any cancellations. Being on the wait list does not guarantee you will be able to attend the session.

Unattended Sessions: If you are unable to attend a session, please inform Colchester Zoo via email (education@colchesterzoo.org) as soon as possible. This will allow them to contact someone on the waiting list to let them attend. If you repeatedly do not attend sessions you are registered for, without letting the zoo know, you may be removed from future sessions.

Please note - Home Education sessions are free of charge. However, Registration for sessions does not include entry to the zoo. Participants must arrange entry to the zoo separately; either paying entrance price, organising themselves independently into a group of 15 (to qualify for group rates), or using zoo passes (gold or platinum cards) (see above for further details).


Sessions for Ages 5-7


September – Endangered Animals

Ages 5-7, Monday 10th & Wednesday 12th (FULLY BOOKED) September
Why are animals dying out? Is this natural and normal? What are these animals' major threats? What can I do to help? These are all questions which will be answered during this session. The session is delivered in an upbeat and interactive way, focusing on guessing games and what we can do to help.

Key points covered: endangered and extinct ; habitat loss; over use; pollution.


October – Adaptations

Ages 5-7, Monday 1st & Wednesday 3rd (FULLY BOOKED) October
What adaptations do animals have? As a group, we'll decide which bits of costume volunteers will dress-up in to demonstrate the major characteristics of Predators and Prey animals.

Key points covered: adaptions; predators and prey; herbivores and carnivores.


November – Maths

Ages 5-7, Monday 5th & Wednesday 7th (FULLY BOOKED) November
Children will get hands-on to practice maths skills in a fun, interactive way as they rotate around maths activity stations. Stations will have a few different options so you can select the appropriate level of difficulty to try and solve.

Key points covered: measurements; timings; patterns; calculations .


December – Penguins

Ages 5-7, Monday 3rd & Wednesday 5th (FULLY BOOKED) December
Get the chance to learn more about these charismatic birds. Using penguin role-play, bio-facts and a costume, the pupils will discover what key adaptions penguins have, as well as how these unique birds live.

Key points covered: key adaptations of penguins; penguin diet; where penguins live.


Christmas Penguin Educational Experience 15thNov, 3rd Dec, and 5th Dec

(All dates FULLY BOOKED)

Recommended for ages 5 to 9
60 minute session from 2:00-3:00

Once again, we are running our Special Christmas Penguin Educational Experience for Home Educated Children. Sessions will run on Mon 3rd and Wed 5th of Dec 2018. This session is recommended for ages 5 to 9.

A festive elf will greet the group and need help learning all about penguins. Participants will work together with a magic book to find out more about these fascinating animals. The entire group thens get the chance to observe real penguins up close before Father Christmas arrives to see how much you’ve all learned about one of his favourite winter animals! As you leave, Father Christmas will give each child a lovely penguin-y gift.

Due to the up close animal experience and the gift, there is a charge of £3 per child attending the session (this includes younger siblings attending).

This session will be identical to the Christmas Penguin Educational Experience that ran in Dec 2016 and 2017.

Please note that we will still be running our usual free educational sessions on the same day. There is considerable overlap between the educational material covered in the 5-7 year old regular ‘Penguin Session’ and the special Christmas Penguin session. As such, if your child attends the Christmas Penguin Experience, we recommend that they don’t attend the regular 5-7 year old ‘Penguin Session’.

This session has very limited places which will be filled on a first come first served basis.

If you would like to attend this special Christmas Session, please email education@colchesterzoo.org to register with your child(ren)’s name and age and the parent/guardian’s full name (please note that this is a completely separate session and requires different registration than the usual free sessions for which registration is via the form found higher on this page). If you have any questions, email education@colchesterzoo.org

Please note, this session (as with all Home Education Sessions at Colchester Zoo) does not include entry to the zoo. Participants must arrange entry separately either by paying standard entry fees (click here for prices), organising themselves with 15 people to qualify for our group rates (fees (click here for group details), or using zoo passes (click here for pass details).


January – Senses

Ages 5-7, Monday 7th & Wednesday 9th (FULLY BOOKED) January
Children will review the five main senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. You’ll then get the opportunity to compare your own senses with some of the amazing senses animals have.

Key points covered: the five main senses (hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste); animal adaptations..


February – Dear Zoo

Ages 5-7, Monday 4th & Wednesday 6th (FULLY BOOKED) February
Expanding on the ideas from the book ‘Dear Zoo’, children will find out about other animals which live at the zoo. Based on what we learn about these animals, the group will decided why they would, or would not, make good pets! After the session, back at home, children can complete worksheet letters to post to the zoo, and your will be sent a response.

Key points covered: listening to stories; animal needs; what makes a good pet.


March – Lifecycles

Ages 5-7, Monday 4th & Wednesday 6th (FULLY BOOKED) March
Participants investigate how different animals grow and develop. A variety of hands-on activities bring this topic to life as children examine eggs, and play games about minibeast life stages.

Key points covered: live birth vs eggs; butterfly lifestages; egg identification.


April – Hands-On!

Ages 5-7, Monday 1st & Wednesday 3rd (FULLY BOOKED) April
Children will get the chance to investigate a variety of real animal fur, feathers, scales and bones. We’ll then use our investigative skills to match the objects to images (looking at pattern, close and far), colours and descriptive words!

Key points covered: general exploration; sight reading; adjectives and other descriptive words.


May - Enrichment

Ages 5-7, Monday 13th & Wednesday 15th (FULLY BOOKED) May
How do we keep zoo animals entertained? Children will discover how we meet the needs of zoo animals including how we prevent them getting bored. Children will then get the chance to make enrichment and see the zoo animals play with it!

Key points covered: animal needs.


Sessions for Ages 7-11


September – Endangered Species

Ages 7-11, Monday 10th (FULLY BOOKED) & Wednesday 12th September
Many animals are endangered and threatened with extinction. In this session, children will learn about the major threats facing endangered animals: habitat loss, over use, pollution, and for older students, invasive species and poaching. Children will get the chance to see real animal artefacts up close, and learn some of the shocking facts about endangered species. These problems are contrasted with positive actions you can take to help endangered animals.

Key points covered: endangered and extinct; habitat loss; invasive species; pollution; poaching; over use.


October – Lemur or Monkey?

Ages 7-11, Monday 1st (FULLY BOOKED) & Wednesday 3rd October
Children will discover the key differences between lemurs, monkeys, and other primates. While investigating this, participants will learn how these animals evolved to survive life in their specific habitats. Props, costumes, and a game to put pupil’s noses to the test will bring this topic alive and show pupils just how different these similar animals can be.

Key points covered: adaptations; difference between monkeys and lemurs; habitats these animals live in; primate evolution.


November – Maths

Ages 7-11, Monday 5th (FULLY BOOKED) & Wednesday 7th November
Children will get hands-on to practice maths skills in a fun, interactive way as they rotate around maths activity stations. Stations will have a few different options so you can select the appropriate level of difficulty to try and solve.

Key points covered: measurements; timings; calculations; area; volume; perimeter.


December – Habitats

Ages 7-11, Monday 3rd (FULLY BOOKED) & Wednesday 5th December
Animals live everywhere in the world, how do they live in such diverse habitats? Children will learn habitat characteristics, and discover some of the cool adaptions that let animals live there.

Key points covered: habitat characteristics of: woodland forest, taiga forest, rainforest, savannah, freshwater, and desert.


Christmas Penguin Educational Experience

Details and registration coming in the autumn!

Once again, we will be running our Special Christmas Penguin Educational Experience for Home Educated Children in Dec 2018. This session is recommended for ages 5 to 9 and includes learning about penguins, seeing a live penguin up close, meeting Father Christmas, and receiving a penguin-y gift. This session can be attended in addition to the regular December Home Education Session. Due to the nature of this experience, there is a small additional charge for this session.

This session will be identical to the Christmas Penguin Educational Experience that ran in Dec 2016 and 2017. If you previously attended, it will be repetitive, but you are still welcome to register and attend.

Dates, times and other details have yet to be determined for this session. Check back in the autumn for this information and details of how to register.


January – Nocturnal Animals

Ages 7-11, Monday 7th (FULLY BOOKED) & Wednesday 9th January
The dark might seem scary, but it is full of fascinating creatures. As a group we’ll decide which bits of costume to dress a volunteer up to demonstrate the major adaptations of nocturnal animals. Children will discover the main reasons animals are nocturnal and how it helps them find food, stay cool, and avoid predators.

Key points covered: adaptations of nocturnal animals; reasons animals are nocturnal.


February – Role of Zoos

Ages 7-11, Monday 4th (FULLY BOOKED) & Wednesday 6th February
What do zoos do, and why? Children learn the main goals of a modern zoo while discovering how zoos play vital roles in saving endangered species. Colchester Zoo’s contributions to conservation will be discussed using specific case studies.

Key points covered: types of conservations zoos conduct.


March – Lifecycles

Ages 7-11, Monday 4th (FULLY BOOKED) & Wednesday 6th March
Participants investigate how different animals grow and develop. A variety of hands-on activities bring this topic to life as children examine eggs, and play games about minibeast life stages.

Key points covered: live birth vs eggs; egg identification; metamorphosis.


April – Hands-On

Ages 7-11, Monday 1st (FULLY BOOKED) & Wednesday 3rd April
Children will get the chance to investigate a variety of real animal fur, feathers, scales and bones. We’ll then take a closer look at the objects to classify them into groups.

Key points covered: general exploration; classification (birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish); habitats; descriptive words.


May – Enrichment

Ages 7-11, Monday 13th (FULLY BOOKED) & Wednesday 15th May
How do we keep zoo animals entertained? Children will discover how we meet the needs of zoo animals including how we prevent them getting bored. Children will then get the chance to make enrichment and see the zoo animals play with it!

Key points covered: animal needs.


Sessions for Ages 11-16


September – Wildlife Forensics

Ages 11-16, Monday 10th & Wednesday 12th September
Participants explore the issues of illegal wildlife crime, learning about the problems of hunting, poaching, pets, souvenirs, medicine, and bushmeat. While examining real, seized artefacts of the illegal wildlife trade, students learn how organisations are helping to stop these crimes by identifying criminals and identifying the animal victims. Participants will get to try feather identification, and skull identification as well as learning about DNA analysis for species and parentage.

Key points covered: wildlife crime; forensic science.


October – Adapt and Evolve

Ages 11-16, Monday 1st & Wednesday 3rd October
Discover how animals have evolved their adaptations that help them survive. Darwin’s theory of evolution will be discussed along with evidence which support evolution. We’ll then take a closer look at how this has resulted in some of the stranger and weirder animals on the planet.

Key points covered: evolution; adaptations; convergent evolution.


November – Maths

Ages 11-16, Monday 6th & Wednesday 8th November
Participants will get hands-on to practice maths skills in a fun, interactive way as they rotate around maths activity stations. Activities include real world job skills, and live animals! Stations will have a few different options so you can select the appropriate level of difficulty to try and solve.

Key points covered: ratios; percentages; currency calculations; area; speed; volume.


December – Extreme Habitats

Ages 11-16, Monday 3rd & Wednesday 5th December
Animals live in many different places. This means they don’t just live in easily survivable habitats, but also live in some of the more extreme locations on the planets. Find out some of these animal’s unique adaptations which let them survive in these places.

Key points covered: adaptations; extremophiles.


January – Zoo Research

Ages 11-16, Monday 7th & Wednesday 9th January
Research is an important function of a zoo. Participants will discover what type of research and science is conducted at the zoo and how this helps conservation and saving endangered animals. After learning about it, participants will get the chance to try some research of their very own by conducting an animal behavioural study.

Key points covered: zoo research; research priorities; ethograms.


February – Role of Zoos

Ages 11-16, Monday 5th & Wednesday 7th February
What do zoos do, and why? Students learn the main goals of a modern zoo. Based on these goals, students can consider their own opinions about zoos while discovering how zoos play vital roles in conservation. Colchester Zoo’s contributions to in-situ and ex-situ conservation will be discussed using specific case studies.

Key points covered: role of zoos; in-situ conservation and ex-situ conservation.


March – Animal Behaviour

Ages 11-16, Monday 4th & Wednesday 6th March
Participants will learn why animals do things. This starts with investigating the differences between innate and learned behaviour. We’ll then discuss classical and operant conditioning and how it relates to animal training. The sessions will finish by discovering some of the more complex and unique types of learning that animals do.

Key points covered: innate and learned behaviour; classical and operant conditioning; animal training; animal learning.


April – Food and Feeding

Ages 11-16, Monday 1st & Wednesday 3rd April
Participants will learn why animals eat different things and how they digest their food. This includes discovering more about animal digestive systems. Based on that information and the we’ll go on to looking at how these animals are connected together by what they eat in food chains and food webs.

Key points covered: herbivore, carnivore, omnivore; digestions; food chain; food web; bioaccumulation.


May – Enrichment

Ages 11-16, Monday 13th & Wednesday 15th May
Participants learn how we keep our animals entertained. The problems of stereotypical behaviour (abnormal behaviour) and boredom in captive animals is examined. After that, participants will get the chance to get hands-on and make some enrichment. After it's made, the enrichment will be placed in with the animals and you’ll get the chance to watch the animals interacting with the things you’ve made.

Key points covered: stereotypical behaviour; animal welfare; enrichment.


OPENING TIMES

4.30pm close or dusk if earlier (Except for Christmas Starlight Nights) 
Last admission to zoo grounds at 3.30pm

24th November, 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 23rd December - 7.30pm close - Christmas Starlight Nights
Last admission to zoo grounds at 6.30pm

Click here for further closing times

 

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