‘Draw Your Own Encyclopaedia Mammals’ Author-Led Classroom Visit

Are you a primary school teacher in Scotland looking for an author-led classroom visit that’s a little bit different? Do you want a workshop that will combine reading comprehension, out-door learning, practical mathematics and problem-solving?

If so, then this might just be the classroom visit you are looking for! For more information, read on, and to enquire about booking a class visit, or if you need any additional information, simply fill in the contact form below.

Based around the recently published factual children’s book titled Draw Your Own Encyclopaedia Mammals by Colin M. Drysdale, these classroom visits are best suited to children in Primary Four, Five and Six (although they can be successfully done for children as young as Primary Two and as old as Primary Seven).

Lasting approximately one hour (depending on the time slot available), and costing £50 for each class visited (plus the cost of travelling to the school), these classroom visits start by introducing students to what a mammal is. This leads on to an interactive introduction to record-breaking mammals (the biggest, the smallest, the fastest, the slowest, and the one which can hold its breath the longest), which incorporates reading comprehension, practical mathematics, problem-solving and out-door learning. In addition, the activities undertaken during this class visit help the students learn how to put facts they read in books into a more meaningful context by comparing the facts to themselves (in terms of their own height, speed and breath-holding capabilities). A more detailed description of what usually happens during each visit can be found below.

The visits are led by Dr Colin M. Drysdale (the author of Draw Your Own Encyclopaedia Mammals). He is a research biologist who has spent over twenty years working with whales, dolphins and other mammals. This means he can answer pretty much any question the students might wish to ask about mammals (or any other animals).

Note: If you wish, we can also provide copies of Draw Your Own Encyclopaedia Mammals for each student in the class at a 50% reduction on the RRP. This means that each copy would cost £3.74, rather than the usual £6.99. This allows these interactive books to be used in follow-up activities to help develop and embed the knowledge the students have gained during the visit itself.

Quotes From Previous Classroom Visits

“Thank you so much for your fantastic classroom visit on Tuesday. The session was brilliant! the children were so engaged and they loved every minute of it. I think you have inspired quite a few of them and certainly have some new fans of your books”   Primary 2/3 Teacher.

“Thank you for coming to visit. We all really enjoyed it and got a lot from your lesson (myself included).”    Primary 6 Teacher.

“I am writing to say thank you for coming to visit us on Tuesday. You were very kind and helpful. I learned a lot from you. My favourite part of your visit was when we had a race to find out our speed. We hope you will come back again.”   Primary 2/3 Pupil.

Contact Form

If you would like to book a class visit, or if you would like any further information, simply fill in the contact form below using the subject Mammals Book Classroom Visit Enquiry and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Alternatively, you can email us directly at info[at]pictishbeastpublications.com.

Additional Information About What Usually Happens During These Class Visits

An author-led classroom visit based around Draw Your Own Encyclopaedia Mammals involves working with an individual class. The visit starts with the students being introduced to the book itself and the subject it covers, and they are then taken through a series of activities based around information from it, including:

  1. Asking the children to answer questions about what a mammal is, and about various record-breaking mammals (such as the biggest, the smallest, the fastest, and so on). If you have chosen to purchase books for your students to accompany this visit, this will involve the children having to read and comprehend it in order to answer the question (if needed, they are given a hint as to which page the answer is on).
  2. Measuring the height of each child in a class (which they then write on a post-it note and stick onto themselves). They are then asked to divide themselves into groups where their combined height is as close to the height of an adult male elephant as possible (which is 400 centimetres). This demonstrates how they can put factual information from a book in a meaningful context by comparing it to their own characteristics, as well as the practical mathematics required to add the heights of each member of their group together.
  3. Taking them to an outside space (such as a playground) and asking them to estimate how long they think a blue whale would be (which is 30 metres). This helps them assess their ability to estimate distances. Note: In wet weather, this can be done in a suitably-sized inside space.
  4. Drawing a life-size outline of a blue whale with chalk, then exploring how many of them it would take to be as long as a blue whale, and different ways they could work this out (such as lying down in a row and counting how many of them it would take, or working out an average height and then dividing the distance by this height to estimate how many of them it would take). This helps them explore problem-solving. Note: In wet weather, this can be done in a suitably-sized inside space (in this case a rope is used to outline the whale, rather than chalk).
  5. Working out the area of a blue whale’s shadow. This is down by break down the life-size outline of the blue whale into a series of triangles and rectangles which they can measure and easily calculate the area of, before adding all the areas of all the shapes together to get the total area of the whale’s shadow. This helps to show them how to use maths in a practical way to solve a real world problem.
  6. Comparing their speed to that of a cheetah, by seeing how long it would take them to run the length of a blue whale, and then working out what other mammal species (such as sloths, guinea pigs, squirrels, cats, wolves, elephants and so on) they would be able to beat in a race. Again, this helps them understand how to put factual information from a book into a meaningful context by comparing it to their own abilities.

The class visit then ends with a return to the classroom and a short question and answer session, where they can ask any questions they like about mammals.

A suggested follow-up activity is for the teacher to re-visit the facts that the students learned during the visit, and ask them to write down the fact and draw a picture of the animal associated with it. For size-based facts, they can also draw a picture of themselves standing beside the animal to the same scale to help show how big (or small) it is.

The exact content of each visit is tailored to the age group of the children involved. So, for example, for a Primary Two class, it would mainly focus on looking at the size and speed of mammals relative to their own height and speed, while for Primary Seven class, it would cover how you could work out the area, volume and weight of a blue whale based on composite shapes.

In addition, all the equipment required to conduct all these activities (including tape measures, chalk and stop-watches) is provided.