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How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:30 pm
by Andy Hamilton
I have been asked to give a talk next week to a bunch of 8-11 years olds. I have never done something like this before and really have no clue where to begin. I am thinking that it would be good to get them to plant something or something like that but that is not going to take an hour.

Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:52 pm
by Rosendula
I haven't done much like this either. My experience is basically having two children who have been that age, and helping out for a few hours with a year 6 group at the local primary school. From that limited experience, what I can tell you is that they are absolute sponges at that age. I loved it when my kids were that age. We used to talk about life on other planets, religion, philosophical ideas, all sorts and they sat there with their mouths open, taking it all in, joining in, asking questions and giving their opinions. Don't mean to scare you :shock: (sorry), but it's great when kids are actually listening to you.

Remember that many of them might not realise that chips come from potatoes/potatoes grow in the ground, etc., etc. Even basic stuff like that will be an eye-opener to some of them. So you could perhaps ask them as a group what food they know grows under the ground, what food grows on trees, that sort of thing. Don't put anyone on the spot because if they don't know they will be embarrassed.

When I helped in the primary school, one of my tasks was to take a group of kids who were behind everyone else with their maths. I found that I really got through to them when I talked in terms of money. So instead of asking what 10 + 20 was, I asked, if you had a 10p and I gave you a 20p, how much would you have? They knew the answer to that. So perhaps bringing money into it would help. Erm, not sure how, but maybe for the older kids something like, if a bag of potatoes costs £1 at the supermarket, how many bags of potatoes would you have to grow in order to save enough money to buy a Wii? Or better still, just tell them instead of asking.

You could also talk about the waste bits from the veggies going on the compost heap, being eaten by insects which provide us with compost that goes on the plot and helps the veg grow, so they can see the cycle.

There are primary school teachers on here that will no doubt give much better answers than me, but my main thought is to remember what you were like at that age - don't talk to them like they're little kids, but like they are Ishers in the making who are just starting out and need to know the basics.

Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:54 pm
by Annpan
Yup, planting something would be good. Keep it simple and something they can eat or will use at home

Herbs for the kitchen might be good or a tomato plant (a cherry bush variety that can sit on a kitchen window sill perhaps)

Plant it in an old yogurt pot (or similar) explain how important it is to reduce, reuse, recycle and explain where growing your own can help in this.

My niece (age 9) was blown away when we planted some herbs last year together - we also iced some biscuits using home grown colourings. Apparently she tell everyone how cool it is and that this is what she wants to do when she grows up :cheers: obviously that was one kid for 5 days but they can be really inspired by hands on stuff.

Try to be chatty and not to preachy with them (I know that's your thing anywhoos)

Meh, it's just kids, how hard can it be :wink: :lol:

Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:40 pm
by JulieSherris
I was going to say 'why would you WANT to talk to a load of kids'... but it doesn't read the same way as I say it, so.....

You'd be surprised how long it can take a class of kiddies to pot up a plant in a little pot for the windowsill actually..... but I agree with the whole 'where does your food come from' topic.
I can still remember sending my 11 yr old out to pick some runner beans for dinner when her friend came for tea, years ago, & her little friend was gobsmacked that beans were part of a PLANT!!

Good luck, Andy - I'll pray for you, shall I? :wink: :mrgreen:

Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:17 am
by snapdragon
Got any nephews/neices or friends kids to practise on/with?

If you're talking to that sort of age range there could be quite a lot of kids and if they're all planting stuff there Will be a soil fight somewhere.

Have you got any good big poster sized pics of the circle of sowing/planting/harvesting/composting or the three Rs?

Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 11:18 am
by yerma
Depends what you've been asked to talk about, really. 8-11 year olds-how many? A small group, a class of 30+ or larger? That can affect your approach. Have a word with the teacher before you prepare.If the subject is something you are passionate about, they will respond to that. If you begin with a question and get them on your side, it helps. By all means demonstrate planting seeds or plants, maybe with some volunteers to help, something you can leave for them to look after. (Can help with behaviour if there's a promise that you will need some help later).
Yes, keep it simple, but don't patronise, they should have had some experience of plants etc through Science, but if you link it to their own experiences, you will get their attention.Take it slowly, plenty of practical things, tools, seed packets, your book of course,to look at. If you allow questions at the end, don't be surprised to be asked about things totally irrelevant to what you have been saying. eg have you got a girlfriend?
Above all, relax and enjoy it, they will want to learn.

Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:28 pm
by MuddyWitch
Talk in simple language; ie carrot not Daucus carota ssp. sativus! But NEVER talk 'down' to them.

Ask them to name some Super heros....then tell them that they can help to save the planet...etc

Have some simple stuff for them to taste, maybe wearing a blind fold, but volunteers only.

& for piy's sake plant SUMMAT more interseting than Sunflowers! A Spud in a Bucket would be brilliant. Carrots have wonderfull top foliage that someone's rabbit/gunea pig can have after the class share the harvest. Courgettes are wonderfull if the school has a little garden & the seeds are huge, ideal for little hands.

Over all...ENJOY!


Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:40 pm
by Green Aura
Do they still do the growing a broad bean in a jam jar with blotting paper thing these days - it's one of the few things I remember from junior school and I'm sure it started my interest in gardening and biology.

If you could start them off and get one of the teachers to continue it and plant them out somewhere - or something else that sprouts easily.

Or they could make their own newspaper pot and then plant something in it, put their name on it and maybe take it home to plant - so something that would grow in a plant pot. Shame those microtom seeds are so expensive.

Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:07 am
by invisiblepiper
I'm with Muddy Witch - don't underestimate them!
Lots of 'props'
Get them involved / helping and doing.
Make (clean) jokes -( not that I imagine you would do otherwise.)
Their teachers should be on hand for the keeping control part I would think.
And as Yerma says - they will ask anything - especially if you are friendly - such as why you wear your hair long - or your favourite bands!
IP - good luck :thumbleft:

Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:59 am
by flyonthewall
A little group task at the start can be good to help the kids focus on the subject and start to discuss it within themselves, splitting the group down into some smaller groups and giving them something to discuss and think about and then they can all come back with their answers. Perhaps something like the '101 uses for' thread we have on here - give each group a supposed 'waste' item and see how many ideas they can come back with for using that item. Kids have amazing imaginations.

My step daughter, 10, is very into growing things as both myself and her dad and her mum and mum's partner have allotments. She enjoys finding out facts about different plants and how to grow different things, and learning about different bugs and what they do - how they can be beneficial to the plants for example ladybirds eating aphids. She loves our wormery as well and the worms are almost like pets!

Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:54 am
by frozenthunderbolt
Hope i'm in time to help.
I'm a student teacher atm;
* have a flow chart of links between questions and responses/topics you want to cover and this will help you direct the discussions in circles that cover most of what you hoped
* Don't plan on spending X time on this or that - some things take 10 seconds and they have it, some take 10 min and they still don't get what your saying. in both cases it will not be the things you expect.
* You will field weird Q's. don't worry, if they are sensible answer them, if you don't know the answer, say that, and that it is an interesting question, and challenge them to answer it themselves - discuss possible sources.
* Kinder learn differently - some respond best to visual explanations, some to auditory and some to tactile - try and include several different ways of explaining similar concepts or linked ideas in order to reach the widest audience.
*make it fun and make it fascinating - make them think and dream and it isn't work anymore, it living.

Have fun :cheers: nothing beats seeing the lights switch on :sunny: .

Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:45 pm
by MaryContrary
Sounds obvious, but just be yourself and enjoy it.

I recently helped out some 10-year-olds at our local primary - they were helping redesign the school environmental garden, and I was so impressed by their capabilities!

I was there in my capacity as a professional gardener, but soon realised that they were actually more impressed with me being an adult who was talking to them as equals. The more friendly I was the easier it became, although I was determined not to try and be 'right on' - I wanted them to see an adult as an adult, not pretending to be 'cool'.

Good luck!

PS Obviously, if you were to plant beans or something, do tell them to stroke the seedlings to encourage strength - they'll love that :iconbiggrin:

Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:49 pm
by Andy Hamilton
Ok, just got back from doing this and don't really know why I was worried. I prepared something last night but then whilst cycling there I decided to pick a load of wild plants. I could sense that the kids were a little bored with my talk so just started talking about the plants.

Got some daft questions but mostly really observant good stuff. The funniest bit was when I got out a mallow leaf and said, "Guess what the Romans used this for?". A boy said, "to cover their nobs". "Almost", I said, "to wipe their arses".

Cheers for the advice though folks.

Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 3:00 pm
by Shirley
LMAO - well fielded Andy!

Re: How do I give a talk to Schoolchildren

Posted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 10:06 am
by Helsbells
Hee hee brilliant! Bet that stumped him!