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RE: reptile demonstration at elementary school...help needed!

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Posted by: blackpine at Sat Sep 11 03:26:06 2004  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by blackpine ]  
   

I answered a question similar to yours in another forum and I hope this re-run of my answer will help you.

Iíve given snake presentations at libraries for years. I do a slide show and show a few live animals. The whole thing takes 45-60 minutes. My audience is usually 5-12 year olds. Most of the time I work alone. I only have an assistant if I borrow a friendís large constrictor. Iíve had large audiences (over 200) but find that presentations to 60 people or less are more interesting and enjoyable for both the audience and me.

The key is for you to be in firm control of the situation. I give the kids my ground rules before I startÖ everyone stays sitting on their bums, no fast movements, no silly fear displays (kids act up in front of their friends but if you tell them to cut the goofiness, they do!). I show the snakes one at a time and I walk the animal through the crowd, talking about it as I go. It doesnít take long per animal, everybody gets a close look without the snake being mobbed, and, if anyone acts up or stands up to get a closer look, I immediately walk away from them and tell them why Iím doing so (they always behave after that). Often, parents are in the audience and the rules apply to them too (although they, of course, are usually sitting in chairs rather than on the floor with the kids). When I first started doing these talks, I had kids gathering around me and I realized that there was too much potential for an accident. The walkabout works much better and I remain behind after a presentation for those who want to chat more about the snakes.

I also tell the audience whether or not they can touch each animal (e.g. my BP has done this for years and doesnít care who touches him but my black pine has only done half a dozen shows so far, so I donít want to stress her more than necessary). I remind the children that a snake is not a dog or cat. It can be docile but itís not domesticated. I ask them to touch the body but not the head, as even my most placid snake can be a little head shy at times.

As I walk around with the snake, I watch the kids far more closely than my snake. I know each snakeís personality and what itís likely to do. If something bad were to happen (and thank goodness, it never has), thereís a far greater chance that it would be due to an audience member rather than one of my snakes.

The first snake I always pull out is my daughterís large plush toy rattlesnake. I tell the audience that Iíve got a large snake in the bag, I stick my hand in and shake the rattle (always getting a comment like ďOh, thereís a rattlesnake in there!), and then I quickly whip it out. Itís always good for a laugh, breaking the tension that sometimes exists, and it gives me a gauge of how my audience is likely to react to the real animal. After I whip out the toy, we discuss why I would not have a rattlesnake or any other potentially dangerous snake with me during my presentation.

I guess Iíve rambled on enough. As you can tell, I really enjoy doing these presentations and itís great PR for the snake world. I hope this helps you and I encourage you to give it a try.


   

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<< Previous Message:  reptile demonstration at elementary school...help needed! - HerpGirl, Wed Sep 8 13:31:12 2004