Discovery Box

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Discovery Boxes make your visit more interactive! While enjoying all the sights and sounds of the wide open spaces of ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, take some time to get hands-on and engage all your senses with our new Discovery Box. The Discovery Box is free to use by any school group visiting ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. The Discovery Box is a fantastic way to enhance your students' visit to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. Discovery Boxes can be used to compliment a booked zoo education session or as a part of a self-guided visit.

What is a Discovery Box?

The Discovery Boxes are large green boxes situated around the Zoo. Our first box to be launched is opposite our amazing Asian elephants enclosure. The Box contains interactive objects and engaging activities for your students to participate with including elephant teeth, adaptation games and sound bites from our scientists in the field. The Discovery Box is designed so that the teacher can tailor their use to match the needs and experience of their students. See, smell and touch different objects that link the animals you see before you to the learning outcomes of your visit. 

Who is a Discovery Box for?

The box can be used by any booked school group but our teacher support resources are designed for Key Stage 1, 2 & 3. They can be used by a group of up to 30 students at a time, but to get the most out of the boxes, we recommend smaller group sizes. 

At each key stage there is a different focus topic that links in to the national curriculum. 

To accompany the box is a teacher’s guide (downloaded from the helpful documents section of this page). There is a different guide for each Key Stage and inside is all the information needed for you to help your students to explore the Discovery Box. Included is also a pre-visit activity to prep your class ready for their visit and post-visit activities, to consolidate their learning after the visit. 

We recommend that class teachers look through the correct guide before visiting the zoo, this will allow you time to decide which of the objects within the box you would like to use and what of the provided information you would like to share with your group on the day. 

For Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 students there is an activity booklet to complete on the day, alternatively if you feel this is not right for your students, all the teacher’s guides provide questions to ask your students and additional information surrounding the objects from the box to share with your class.

National Curriculum links for boxes

KS1 Habitats Box

National Curriculum links (2014):

Science KS1: 

  • Animals, including humans-
    a) Identify and name a variety of common animals that are carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.
    b) Identify and name a variety of common animals that are birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and invertebrates.
    c) Notice that animals including humans have offspring which grow into adults.
    d) Find out about and describe the basic needs of animals, including humans, for survival (water, food and air).
  • All living things and their habitats-
    a) Identify that most living things live in habitats to which they are suited and describe how different habitats provide for the basic needs of different kinds of animals and plants, and how they depend on each other.
    b) Identify and name a variety of plants and animals in their habitats, including micro-habitats.
    c) Describe how animals obtain their food from plants and other animals, using the idea of a simple food chain, and identify and name different sources of food.

English KS1:

  • Spoken Language
    a) Listen and respond appropriately to peers and adults.
    b) Ask relevant questions
    c) Articulate and justify answers

KS2 On the Edge box

National Curriculum Links (2014):

Science KS2:

  • Living things and their habitat
    a) Recognise that living things can be grouped in a variety of ways. For example grouping them into the different parts of the IUCN Redlist.
    b) Recognise that environments can change and that this can sometimes pose dangers to living things.
  • Evolution and Inheritance (Yr 6)
    a) Identify how animals and plants are adapted to suit their environment in different ways and that adaptations may lead to evolution.
    b) The variation in the animal can either help or hinder that animal’s chance of survival in their environment.

Geography KS2:

  • Locational Knowledge

English KS2:


a) Transcription

Spoken language:


a) Word reading

b) Comprehension

KS3 Ecosystems box

National Curriculum Links (2014):
Science, Biology KS3-

  • Interactions and interdependencies; Relationships in an ecosystem
    a) The interdependence of organisms in an ecosystem, including food webs and insect pollinated crops.
    b) How organisms affect, and are affected by, their environment, including the accumulation of toxic materials.
  • Genetics and evolution
    a) Differences between species.
    b) Changes in the environment may leave individuals within a species, and some entire species, less well adapted to compete successfully and reproduce, which in turn may lead to extinction.

Geography KS3-

  • Human and physical:
    1) Weather and climate.
  • Locational knowledge

English KS3-

Spoken English


Would you like to investigate further?

Due to the nature of the Discovery Box it can only be used by one group at a time so it is necessary to book.. 

During busy times, you maybe given a 45 minutes time slot to use the Discovery Box.

Booking can be made by contacting the Discovery and Learning team by email or by phoning our team on 01582 871514. 

When contacting please have you booking reference number and date of visit to hand. 

When you contact you will also be provided with a lock code for use with the box, if wishing to use the Box on subsequent visits all of these will need to be booked as the lock code is regularly changed. 

Should you require any additional information regarding this activity please contact