Onsite & Outreach Programmes

“Children are disappearing from the outdoors at a rate that would make the top of any conservationist’s list of endangered species”

The Education Team at the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre offer a comprehensive programme of activities for schools studying aspects of the natural environment and habitats of the surrounding area.

A full range of the onsite and outreach programmes, run by the education team can be found in our education leaflet, downloadable by clicking on the image below:

 edu leaflet thumbnail

On-site programmes

Pre School Teddy Trails
Especially for the under 5’s

A programme dedicated to encouraging the under 5’s age group to learn and appreciate the world around them in the beautiful surroundings of Oxford Island. Activities can include woodland discovery walks, minibeast hunts, butterfly spotting, bird watching and arts and craft activities.

Primary School

Key Stage 1&2: Fresh water life, fresh water invertebrates, woodlands, minibeasts, birds and nature games.

Secondary School

Key Stage 3&4: Lough Neagh ecosystems, habitats of Lough Neagh and Oxford

Island, sampling techniques e.g. vegetation surveys, birds and map reading.


WOODLANDS: Key Stages: 1&2

Available throughout the year with plenty to see and do in every season:

  • Woodland habitats
  • History of native woodland and the uses of trees
  • Tree types (deciduous/conifer, native/ non-native)
  • Tree identification
  • Simple measuring techniques for trees
  • Woodland games, crafts and sensory activities

AUTUMN/ WINTER (September- February)

  • Seed dispersal, nuts and berries
  • Looking at leaves
  • Bark and buds
  • Woodland nutrient cycle/ fungi

SPRING/ SUMMER (March- June)

  • Plants of the woodland floor/ spring flowers
  • Signs of spring in the woodland

BIRDS: Key Stages: 1&2

  • Identification and observation of birds in their natural habitat
  • Migration – our summer and winter visitors
  • Adaptation
  • Feeding and behaviour

AUTUMN /WINTER (September- February)

  • Winter migrants
  • How to care for birds in winter

SPRING/ SUMMER (March- June)

  • Summer migrants
  • Bird song
  • Nesting birds
  • Summer plumage
  • Birds and their young (June)

MINIBEASTS: Key Stages: 1&2

AUTUMN: (September & October)

  • Safari in the woodland for terrestrial minibeasts
  • Identification, classification and recording of different species of minibeasts
  • Predator / prey relationships and food chains
  • Life cycles
  • The Lough Neagh fly and its life cycle
  • The importance of minibeasts as nature’s recyclers

SPRING / SUMMER (March – June)

  • As above



  • The importance of freshwater to animals and people
  • Freshwater invertebrates – identification, life cycles and adoption to life in water
  • Breathing, moving and feeding
  • Fish
  • Pollution

*A study of freshwater life involves a pond dipping session in one of our wildlife ponds.

GRASSLANDS: Key Stages: 1&2

SUMMER (May and June)

  • Butterflies – their life cycles, identification and habitat needs
  • Meadow flowers – identification, parts of a flower, life cycles and folklore


  • Nature awareness games are very popular with younger children. The games are fun but also educational reinforcing some of the topics covered during the visit.
  • The use of plans and photographs introduces children to simple map reading skills and fits in well with the geography curriculum.


  • Water sampling
  • Pond habitats – freshwater food webs, freshwater ecosystems and pollution


  • Woodlands
  • Grasslands
  • Freshwater
  • Mans influence on the ecosystem of Lough Neagh


  • Vegetation surveys – reed beds, primary and secondary succession and human interference
  • Birds – migration, identification, adaptation and behaviour
  • Sampling invertebrates using pitfall traps plus other pieces of equipment

Outreach Programmes

Available to all groups, our outreach programmes help young people interpret, discover and appreciate the world outside the classroom.

The outreach programmes listed below are available from October to March and are available to all schools within the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council area as well as schools outside the borough.

Garden Birds

This programme looks at the variety of birds which come to our gardens and school grounds.  It covers the topics of adaptation, classification and migration.  Children will learn of the threats faced by our garden birds and ways in which they can be helped.  This programme includes some practical activities aimed at helping birds in the school grounds.


This programme looks into the range of minibeasts that share our world with us.  It explores some of our local habitats and the creatures found within them, looking at their characteristics and the benefit they bring to our lives.  Practical activities focus on improving the school grounds for invertebrate and insect life.

Wildlife, Habitats and Biodiversity

This programme looks at some of our local habitats, the plants and animals found in our immediate surroundings, and the interdependence between them.  It looks at the threats faced by our local wildlife and ways in which people can play a role in protecting wildlife and resources of the area.  This topic is most suited to Key stage 2 children and is also useful to groups setting out to develop biodiversity projects in their school grounds.


This topic explores how important water is in our everyday lives and the water resources available to us in Northern Ireland.  It looks the range of plants and animals fresh water supports with emphasis on the Lough Neagh ecosystem.  The way we use water resources and the threats placed on our rivers and lakes will also be examined.

Energy, Pollution and Recycling

This programme looks at the way we use energy in our lives, where it comes from and the resources needed to fuel our lifestyles.  It tackles the problem of packaging in our modern world looking at recycling and ways to reduce our energy and resource usage.

Growing your School Grounds

This is a programme which has been designed to help schools make the most of their grounds and is a longer term programme with a series of monthly visits to the school. Staff from the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre can help staff and pupils to develop the following projects.

  • Setting up of raised beds and the growing of vegetables, flowers and herbs.
  • Minibeasts hotel
  • Willow domes
  • Compost heaps
  • Habitat creation

*Many of the projects will help schools setting out to achieve their Green Flag award.