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Adders are Amazing Resource Pack

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This resource pack brings together some of the most effective artistic and scientific engagement tools developed by the Adders are Amazing! project. Not all are novel, and many can be developed further, perhaps to be used for a much wider range of other ‘challenging species’ such as amphibians and invertebrates. During the funded project, we were able to support many groups who wanted to participate, but otherwise had few resources. We recognise that cost can be a significant barrier to engagement, so we have presented a range of activities to give you plenty of options, depending on your budget and the type of group you are working with.

For young people (activity sheets coloured red: age 3-7, and green: age 8+) we found that more ‘hands on’ or visual activities were the most successful. For older groups, such as the U3A, Women’s Institute and community councils (blue activity sheets), offering a talk or focus group to discuss concerns about adders and ways to help the community can be highly effective. We believe that working with all members of the community, regardless of age, gender, financial circumstances, disability, ethnicity, or many of the other differences we have, is really important. What we offer here are activities that can be developed for working with all groups.

It is our hope that this pack will fire up your imagination and provide ideas for practical projects to carry out in your area, to help raise awareness of adders and change public perception of these amazing animals, before we lose them for good. Please print out the resources, photocopy them and distribute them freely. Use them for public events, talks or school engagement work. We hope you find them beneficial and would value your feedback!

pdf 01 Snakes, savvy, not sure or scared.pdf Popular


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1 Snakes, savvy, not sure or scared.pdf

When you first start working with any new group, it is important to find out how much the participants know about snakes, and how snakes make them feel. Inevitably, there will be keen ‘experts’ actively participating, but there may be others who are scared or phobic, and many more that are not sure how they feel. We have developed an ‘ice-breaker’ activity to encourage everyone to join in and tell us what they know and how snakes make them feel. This is a delicate area so it is important to praise children for what they know (especially if they are scared), and ensure that those with fears or concerns do not feel isolated or mocked. Empathise! Maybe use an example of other fears we may have – we are all different and they are not ‘wrong’. Encourage those who are unsure to join in and find out more.

pdf 02 Practical ecology.pdf Popular


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2 Practical ecology.pdf

When working with schools, it is worth checking with the current national curriculum for your country to see how you can tailor your talk or workshop to fit in with this. Schools are far more likely to make time for you to visit or host field trips if there are clear curriculum links. This sheet highlights things you could include. Adder engagement work can fit into so many areas of the curriculum, including:  art, history, geography, drama, mathematics (adders!), English language – poetry, creative writing. However, the most obvious link is through ecology and science. Check out the ‘Adder poem’ activity sheet and all of our artistic activities for more ideas.

Our ‘Food chains and webs’ activity sheet also provides ideas for a simple ecological activity, which can be adapted to the age and Key Stage of your group. This sheet has some further tips on how to bring ecology into the classroom when talking about adders. 

pdf 03 Clay adders.pdf Popular


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3 Clay adders.pdf

A great tactile activity for younger, and even older, children. Most children enjoy squishing and moulding clay. This activity also helps them firm up their ID skills by reinforcing the shape of the snake and the adder back pattern, and gives them something lovely to take away and decorate in their own time. Very simple and inexpensive, but very effective!

pdf 04 Adder wands.pdf Popular


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4 Adder wands.pdf

This is a great craft activity for festivals and community events. Children love making something they can run around with – and they love these ‘Harry Potter’ wands. They are also a great way to catch the attention of passers-by to come and introduce to our native reptiles. We found that even the adults love making a decorated stick – it really is quite therapeutic!

pdf 05 Food chains and webs.pdf Popular


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5 Food chains and webs.pdf

An important part of science curriculum work in primary schools is the concept of food chains and at a more advanced stage, food webs. This activity is a lot of fun and teaches children how animals interact with their environment and each other, and how any changes can affect them all. You need a collection of toy or model animals representing native wildlife – they need not look realistic. If working with a school class, a selection of 30 toys is ideal but smaller numbers are fine for group work. Include snakes, their prey items and predators.

pdf 06 Magic adder pencils.pdf Popular


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6 Magic adder pencils.pdf

This is a simple craft activity, ideally suited to younger children. It can be done during a classroom or group visit. The best way to start off is to introduce the group to adders and their habitats first. Then let them have a go at this really simple and effective activity which will help them learn more about how adders are marked, as well as help them to remember what sort of places they are likely to find them in. Giving the children something to keep helps sustain those positive adder feelings.

pdf 07 Wind snakes.pdf Popular


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7 Wind snakes.pdf

We love this idea sent to us by Kelvin Lawrence of the Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group (DARG). It works well in a number of settings, requires little by way of materials and is very fun and effective. Kids love them!

pdf 08 Adder hunt quiz.pdf Popular


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8 Adder hunt quiz.pdf

If you are working in a location where you are unlikely to spot any reptiles on site with the group, for example if you are restricted to the school grounds or can’t go out into the countryside for other reasons, this game can be a useful introduction to where adders live, and teaches the children where they could look for adders when they are out in their own time. Secretly, hide the cardboard adders before you meet with the group in places where you would expect them to be (at the edge of bushes, bracken and around log piles, for example). Write true/false adder-related questions on the back for added educational value and fun!

pdf 09 Adder stone trails.pdf Popular


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9 Adder stone trails.pdf

The idea for this activity came from contact by concerned members of the public, wishing to raise awareness of adders on a popular beach in Pembrokeshire. Signs are not always possible, but engaging local children in a fun awareness raising activity can be very effective. All it needs is some paint, some pebbles, a local authority or landowner who is willing to host the stones, and a willing group. We worked with schools, scouts/guides, and other community groups. The objective is to get members of the public to find the stones, share their pictures on social media, such as Facebook/Twitter, and re-hide the stone for others to find, spreading positive adder awareness in an engaging way. This activity works for all age groups – why not ask local community groups to get involved and create a trail on your adder site?

pdf 10 Adder crowns.pdf Popular


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10 Adder crowns.pdf

This is a nice simple and fairly quick activity for public events where families will be present, such as at a show or fete. It avoids the use of plastic and can be adapted to the seasons – just use whatever plant material you can find. It is also very inexpensive and kids love it.

pdf 11 Cakes and adders game.pdf Popular


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11 Cakes and adders game.pdf

A pun on words, we know! But it’s fun to tackle some of the negative folklore around snakes. In the traditional Snakes and Ladders game, snakes send you back down the gameboard, which is not helpful. We’ve reinvented it – on a big scale! The aim of our game is to get to the end of the board without landing on a cardboard cake, which slows you down by making you miss a turn. In this version, landing on an adder tail sends you closer to your goal, as you go ‘up the adder’, unlike the traditional version. This activity can be great if you have a stall or activity on hard standing tarmac or concrete as it will help bring children in for a play and chat about snakes and why they aren’t really the bad guys.

pdf 12 Natural adder art.pdf Popular


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12 Natural adder art.pdf

A great way to get children and adults interested in their surroundings is to get them involved in natural art activities. This is sometimes taught as part of Forest School work, and is becoming ever more popular. Snakes lend themselves wonderfully to this as they are easy to create for all ages! If you are based near the woods, try clay tree adders. Near a sandy beach? Have a sand adder contest or get the whole group involved to create a giant adder sculpture! Or create an adder pattern out of plants and stones you find in whatever your surroundings – the possibilities are endless, so just look for what you can find, and get creating!

pdf 13 Adder nightlights.pdf Popular


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13 Adder nightlights.pdf

Here is a nice simple craft that young children will love. It brings in the concept of recycling as the jars are re-used and if you buy battery powered LED candles, these can be re-used too. Bought in bulk online, the LED candles are not expensive (about 25p each – see ‘Resources’). The effect is a lovely keepsake for children. For this night light, we chose a summer adder scene, but depending on the event you are attending, any season could be used, or even just funky abstract adder patterns!

pdf 14 Adder lanterns.pdf Popular


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14 adder lanterns.pdf

The most exciting large-scale creative activity for Adders are Amazing! was the evening lantern parade on St David’s Airfield. We made a giant adder and smaller triangular paper lanterns with Year 5 school children from local schools for an amazing dramatic night of story-telling. You could run a similar family event to raise awareness of adders in your area.

pdf 15 Adder amulets.pdf Popular


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15 Adder amulets.pdf

Adder stones appear throughout many myths and legends, from Celtic, Welsh and Irish cultures, and even further afield from Russia. They were highly valued by the pagan Druids and were thought to heal a number of ailments, as well as protecting their owner from ill fortune. Adder stones, are essentially stones with a natural hole in them, believed to have been created by adders. Using this positive myth, we developed a craft activity for older children – an adder amulet. Creating the amulet helps to reinforce ID skills and provides a beautiful keepsake to remind them of the positive qualities our ancestors believed adders possessed.

pdf 16 Adder monoprints.pdf Popular


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16 Adder monoprints.pdf

If you want to make some really beautiful artwork to celebrate adders, then this activity may be worth investigating! It is simple and highly effective, producing really beautiful pieces that older children will be proud of. Younger children can also manage this with help, and adults will also love it. It does require more specialist equipment and materials than some of the other activities, but it is worth it. To look into buying your own set of equipment, see the Resources section.

pdf 17 Adder bookmarks.pdf Popular


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17 Adder bookmarks.pdf

Our project artist Emily Laurens designed these beautiful adder bookmarks for an activity with secondary school pupils. They worked brilliantly! It is a little fiddly, and younger children can manage it with help, and plenty of time should be allowed to do it. But the end result is worth it. It helps them appreciate the beautiful scale patterns of the adder.

pdf 18 Snake snacks.pdf Popular


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18 Snake snacks.pdf

This activity can be carried out with any age group, but we found it worked best with older children and adults. Maybe you have a local fair you could attend and sell snake cakes?! Or bring some biscuits along to decorate with children at an event. We are NOT star bakers by any stretch of the imagination, but these biscuits could inspire you to make your own fantastic creations!

pdf 19 Adder poetry.pdf Popular


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19 Adder poetry.pdf

Poetry is a wonderful way to help children explore what they know, and how they feel about adders. We found that, in many cases, where initial perceptions were quite negative and inaccurate; this exercise helped the children to reflect and think about adders more carefully. We ran this activity with a group of 11-year-olds who initially just thought of them as mindless killers, hunting day and night! This can therefore be a great activity to assess how much older children really know about adders and can be used as a great starting point for a day of activities. Or do it at the end of the day to see how their perceptions have changed.

pdf 20 Window scenes.pdf Popular


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20 Window scenes.pdf

Our project artist Emily Laurens worked with a Year 6 school group to make some beautiful tissue ‘stained glass windows’ for our Adders are Amazing! exhibition. They are simple to make and can be adjusted to the season. It works best as an indoor activity. This can be adapted to work with any scene or animal, but we liked putting adders into these seasonal windows, showing what they are doing at different times of the year. We particularly liked the autumn scene, as the adder finds a pile of leaves to go into to hibernate! It helps the children understand the ecology and natural cycles of the adder, which in turn helps them relate to them.

pdf 21 Clay adder habitat tiles.pdf Popular


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21 Clay adder habitat tiles.pdf

This is a great activity for older children, teenagers or adults. The activity could be built into a longer session, including a reptile ramble where the group could collect the plant materials (with landowners’ permission) from adder habitat to bring back to decorate the tiles. You could also give a presentation on adder ecology whilst you wait for the tiles to air dry. Although, the tiles are very striking, this is a relatively inexpensive activity (only costs around 70p per tile) and gives participants something beautiful to help them remember their special day!

pdf 22 Community engagement.pdf Popular


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22 Community engagement.pdf

During the course of Adders are Amazing! we appreciated that many people are worried or unsure about adders, and this is largely fed by misleading or sensational press articles. Presentations to local groups can help to counter this. If you notice negativity about adders in your community, for example from concerned dog walkers or parents, business concerns over tourism conflicts; then pro-actively approaching local groups e.g. local council, gardening club, WI, U3A, to offer a presentation and/or workshop may help to relieve this. Before you give a talk or workshop always try to understand the nature of the group, and structure your materials accordingly. We also recommend that you should always be prepared to discuss any adder-related concerns in a constructive manner. Most people, are reassured when they find out the truth about adders, but it is always better to let them come up with solutions themselves as a community, as these are more likely to be sustainable.

pdf 23 Presentations for adult groups.pdf Popular


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23 Presentations for adult groups.pdf

During the Adders are Amazing! project, news that we were available to speak to interested groups spread like wildfire. Many different types of group were keen to hear about our native reptiles and amphibians. If you would like to spread the word, and help adders and other native herpetofauna, consider giving public talks and pro-actively approaching different groups in your area. Be aware that many groups, such as the Women’s Institute and the University of the 3rd Age book their talks several months in advance, so bear this in mind.

pdf 24 Natural dyes.pdf Popular


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24 Natural dyes.pdf

During Adders are Amazing! we worked with a local St Davids sewing group, The Stitchy Witches, and Women’s Institute groups, to create a magical ‘adder’ quilt. Working with fabric artist Sian Lester, we spent two days creating naturally dyed fabrics from plants found in adder habitat. The process involved going out as a group to collect the plants from verges and hedgerows, and then returning to an indoor workshop session to extract the dyes, and prepare and dye the fabric pieces. This activity works wonderfully to bring people together; to help them consider the natural environment in which the adder lives; and to create something beautiful to celebrate and spread a positive adder message.

pdf 25 Resources List.pdf Popular


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25 Resources List.pdf

Download this sheet to find out where to source the materials for the Adders are Amazing! activities. For more inspiration, you can also refer to the excellent 'What's that Snake?' pack for primary schools ( created by Nigel Hand and Jo Polack in partnership with Herefordshire Amphibian and Reptile Team (HART) and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust.