When I was a kid I remember heading off with my mates, bucket and net in hand, off to the local park and we go splashing in the tiny, mud filled stream in search of hidden creatures. And boy did we find some evil monsters. Tadpoles, frogs and even, most fearsome of all, the stickleback fish. I mean this thing was truly hideous, then again I was probably 6 or 7, so even a little tiddler frightened the living daylights out of me.
You have to remember this was long before we had mobile phones or the internet, yes kids, that time really did exist. In fact a lot of us didn’t even have a house phone. Clearly my real name is Fred Flintstone. In any case, no phones or internet meant we used to play outside, go fishing in the local park, normal things that kids did, and you know what, it was brilliant. Wanna bet kids glued to their phones won’t have those sort of memories to look back on?
That’s why we love the activities they’re running at Bryngarw Country Park right through April to August. We think you must like them too because places are already starting to fill up, in fact some of the day are already sold out.
Your kids get to join the Rangers and have a go at pond dipping! What underwater creatures will you find living in the murky depths of Bryngarw’s pond? Who knows, but if it’s half as scary as the stickleback who pricked me in the finger, the kids are going to have one incredible time. And we hope the only phone we’ll see is the one you use to capture some great pictures.
Pond dipping is more than simply a fun family activity, it allows our children to experience first-hand their local ecosystems and gives them skills and knowledge that books and screens cannot. Pond dipping can be enjoyed by the whole family, toddlers to adults. For children who don’t enjoy free play outside it can work well as it gives them a purpose, something to do. It’s fun too as the children are excited to see what they can catch.
We actually did a little bit of homework into this and it really is a great thing to do with the kids. And the people at Montesorri really know their stuff.
Some of the educational benefits of pond dipping include:
- Observe full lifecycles in person – they can look very different in person and hands-on learning is preferred.
- Learn how to identify common pond organisms.
- Develop basic pond dipping skills.
- Learn how to use identification guides.
- Learn how to monitor the life and health of local ecosystems.
- Prepares the child for future fieldwork.
- Develop skills such as sketching and documenting field work.
- Develops the child’s eye for locating small and camouflaged pond organisms.
- Develops a greater understanding of how local ecosystems work.
- Greater appreciation for biodiversity.
- Fantastic language work for developing scientific/naturalist/environmentalist vocabulary.
- Allows the child to connect with their local environment in a real way, not through books or screens.
- Learn about local topography.
- Greater knowledge of local pond organisms, their habitats, life cycles, diets, and, behaviours.
- Potential to connect with like-minded individuals and groups within the local community.
- Hands-on learning, allows children to use their hands to touch and feel real organisms and environments, not invitations to play, not little world play not lifecycle models.
- Greater knowledge of food chains and predatory organisms. Make connections between living things.
- Learn about the anatomy of pond organisms, many of which we don’t study at any other time.
- Can begin to categorise organisms such as herbivore/carnivore/omnivore/detritivore or invertebrate/vertebrate.
- Sunshine, fresh air, lots of full body movements and strength building, balancing and developing coordination.
And let’s be honest, if you’re going to do it, there really isn’t anywhere better. Set in over 100 acres of parkland, Bryngarw Country Park is a glorious sanctuary for both people and wildlife alike. From woodlands to wetlands, meadows to formal gardens, and a wide range of fun activities and facilities for the whole family to enjoy, there is always something worthwhile to do at Bryngarw, whatever the season.
Since opening as a country park in 1986, Bryngarw has continued to strive for excellence. Achieving Green Flag Award status, as well as Green Heritage Accreditation, the park has been recognised as being among one of the best green spaces in the UK. Demonstrating the very best standards in both environmental and cultural heritage conservation, Bryngarw is a haven for all.
So, as well as a bit of pond dipping with one of the Rangers, if you’re looking to join the cycle track for a ride alongside the River Garw; shoot down one of the slides in the children’s play area or simply take a stroll through the wildflower meadow – Bryngarw Country Park truly does have something for everyone.
The Ranger led Pond Dipping sessions run every Wednesday the 8th April to the 24th August and is £4 per child. Booking is essential – but as we say, places are already selling out. For more details on that, and the other things you can do at Bryngarw in Brynmenyn,
Bridgend, just go here. PARK