Things to do with your class during your visit to Kew Gardens
There is so much to see and do at Kew Gardens - it is impossible to fit it all in on one day! However, with careful pre-planning you can make the most of what Kew has to offer your students. Some ideas for school groups are listed below.
Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway
Visit Kew's Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway and take your class on an sky-high adventure where they can explore trees in a brand-new way. Students climb 18 metres to visit the canopy of Kew's arboretum, taking in a bird's-eye view of the surrounding area.
The walkway has several areas designed for small groups to gather and discuss what they see, smell, hear, and feel during their visit to the treetops. There is helpful interpretation throughout. Students can also visit the underground Rhizotron to find out how trees transport water and nutrients from the soil to their very tops.
Top tip - Allow a minimum of 30-45 minutes for students to explore the Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway. Make the most of this experience by organising activities or questions around the Treetop Walkway before you visit.
Treehouse Towers is an outdoor adventure area suitable for children aged 3-11 years.
Located outside Climbers and Creepers, up to 300 kids can play and explore trees at any one time. Your group can climb up ladders, clamber across rope bridges and slide their way down from the three towers. Each tower varies in height, and as students scale between them, they’ll find each one more of a challenge.
The play area features giant swings, zip wires, scramble nets, slides and a mountaineering ramp for children to enjoy, whilst also offering educational opportunities for students to learn about and appreciate trees.
Top tip - Allow a minimum of 45 minutes for your students to explore and play.
The Davis Alpine House and Rock Garden
These attractions offer a nice extension to our Clever plants in different climates activity tour and optional workshop (primary) and our Plant adaptations to the environment activity tour or extended activity tour (secondary). Your students can use their observation and reasoning skills to identify adaptations to alpine, aquatic and rocky or exposed environments as they explore the glasshouse and surrounding area.
Top tip - For more information on the plants on display, visit the Davis Alpine House and Rock Garden attraction pages. Allow at least 30 minutes for your students to explore the glasshouse and garden.
The Temperate House
The Temperate House at Kew Gardens is a fantastic place for your students to find out more about the many ways people depend on plants.
If you're participating in our Tropical rainforest experience activity tour and optional workshop (primary) or the Plants and people of the rainforest, The rainforest, or Ethical trade and sustainability activity tours and optional workshops (secondary), the Temperate House offers an excellent venue for extension activities around ethnobotany (the ways people use plants).
There is a collection of fruit-yielding citrus plants that includes lemon and lime, a tea bush (Camellia sinensis) from which the nation’s favourite brew is made and a specimen of Cinchona which is used as a treatment for malaria. A traditional African Hut located at the southern end of Temperate House shows how indigenous people put local plants to use as building materials.
Top tip - Why not take your students to our galleries for a look at botanical art, and then have them create their own masterpieces based on plants in the Temperate House? Allow a minimum of 45 minutes for your students to explore the Temperate House.
Marianne North Gallery & Shirley Sherwood Gallery
Kew's art galleries offer students the opportunity to see world-class botanical art collections. Kew commissions around 100 botanical illustrations per year.
Prior to your visit to Kew, why not have your students research the remarkable and prolific botanical artist Marianne North? (This fits in especially well with primary students studying the Victorians!). Ms. North set out on an epic world-wide journey to document plant diversity in her paintings. Your students can then experience Marianne North's work first-hand in the newly renovated Marianne North Gallery. After viewing her paintings, they can visit the Temperate House or one of Kew's other glasshouses to create their own botanical illustrations.
The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, located adjacent to the Marianne North Gallery, is the first gallery in the world dedicated solely to botanical art. As well as being beautiful, botanical illustrations are important scientific records through which plants have been named and classified. Botanical artist Franz Bauer had a particularly accurate eye for detail. An image of a pollen grain he drew in the 18th century, using only a basic microscope, was later proved by a scanning electron microscope to be entirely accurate. Other important botanical illustrators include Walter Hood Fitch, who completed 10,000 drawings while working as Kew’s principal artist between 1837 and 1877.
Top tip - Why not bring your budding artists to the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art and encourage them to pursue this rewarding branch of art? How might your students document plant diversity today? Why is such documentation important? Allow a minimum of 30 minutes for your students to explore the galleries. No photography is allowed in the galleries. Small groups and clipboards is advisable.
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