RiverLAB Summer Series 2016: with the River Tees Rediscovered Landscape Partnership

This summer the Year 3’s from St John the Baptist Primary School, Stockton, ventured up into Teesdale to take part in RiverLAB. They all had a go at river dipping for the animals which live in Percy Beck – a lovely clear stream which runs through Flatts Wood in Barnard Castle. After a closer look at these invertebrates, drawing them and mapping the river habitat, we took the scenic route down to the Tees, collecting natural materials for art-bug sculptures on the way, and stopping to admire the new weir and fish pass, above the castle – well worth a look.

  • Year 3 Feedback

The class enjoyed ‘exploring and walking around in running water’ seeing ‘lots of crazy river creatures’, ‘putting the water creatures in magnification boxes’ and learning that the animals could be different colours – ‘green!’ – ‘very long’ and even have ‘stripy legs not plain black’. They found it ‘really fun making a model out of sticks and moss’ and ‘hadn’t made a bug out of clay’ before. For a return river visit the children were most keen on ‘going to different parts of the river’ and ‘catching more river animals’ – ‘the smallest and the biggest’.

  • Teacher Feedback

‘A lovely experience for our children – well planned with a range of fun activities for all!’


RiverLAB Summer Series 2015: with the River Tees Rediscovered Landscape Partnership

On a perfect June day, the Y5/Y6’s from Croft C of E Primary School walked down through the Clow Beck Centre to their local stream, for a morning of hands-on fun river-dipping. They found plenty of invertebrates to draw in the river, and once they were back at school, turned their drawings into fantastic 3D wire sculptures. Their overhead graphite mark maps of the river habitat became design sources for mono-prints using recycled materials.

  • Y5/6 Feedback

“I loved finding insects in the water that I had not seen before.”

“I discovered creatures I didn’t know existed.”

“I learnt how many tails it had and what the parts of the body were.”

Most of the children had no idea what they’d find, but loved the river dipping and the chance to observe their catch up close. When it came to being creative they were amazed that they could represent their animals with wire sculpture, and found mono-printing with inks and rollers to be a fun new experience.

  • Teacher Feedback

“Plenty of information – the meeting before the day was excellent… many children have never been to their local river site before… everything was amazing”

The Y4’s at High Coniscliffe Primary School had an equally rewarding 1 ½ days of RiverLAB in September, but got a bit wetter…Kelvin our volunteer saved the day, bringing along a gazebo for us to shelter in when they were doing their observational drawings of the invertebrates they’d found. When it came to drawing the habitat map, our cotton rag paper and graphite sticks were more than a match for the pouring rain – definitely extreme drawing!

  • Teacher Feedback

“An exciting opportunity to do some real science and explore the local area”, Susan Gregg, High Coniscliffe, Y4 teacher.

“The children practiced the following skills… “Observation, collection of creatures, identification using keys, classification of living things, creating sculpture in wire, thinking in 3D”

HoT RiverLAB

RiverLAB Summer Series 2015: with the Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership

Learning about Riverfly life cycles is part of the Riverfly Monitoring Training that we now provide in-house at the Trust, and it seemed like a fun idea to get the school children taking part in RiverLAB this year to have a go at creating their own Riverfly Life Cycle – on a T-towel!

After drawing their chosen riverfly nymph or larvae, at the river, the children then had to observe and draw the patterns on the water surface using chalk and charcoal. Both these drawings were then used as design sources for block printed organic cotton T-towels, made back at school…

Apart from finding it all great fun, the children commented how surprised they were that they actually got to go in the river, how many interesting small insects they found existed there, and how it was possible to print with vegetables!

  • Teacher Feedback:

“Fantastic project, every year has been brilliant and creative in a new way.”SB, Cotherstone School

“Another brilliant mini-project that fitted in very well with our science week – and fantastic art work to embed the learning!” JM, Bowes Hutchinson School