Our project for the Summer Term is “MiniBeasts”!
As the weather gets a bit warmer, it’s time to start thinking about embracing opportunities for outdoor learning!
Looking at minibeasts helps us to learn about how we care for other creatures and for our environment.
So, what is a minibeast?
A minibeast, also called an invertebrate, is a creature without either a backbone or an internal skeleton. There are many different kinds of invertebrates, around 40,000 species in Britain alone, and millions across the rest of planet Earth.
Butterflies, bees, moths, dragonflies, centipedes, spiders, scorpions, snails, beetles, crabs and worms are all minibeasts.
About 97% of creatures on Earth are invertebrates and without them we would not be able to survive. They help to pollinate plants, recycle waste material, provide food for other creatures such as birds and reptiles and much, much more.
We feel it’s really important to encourage our children’s curiosity about the natural world, for they will be the next generation safeguarding the future of our planet. Minibeasts, in particular, play a vital role in nature and our children love to learn about how bees pollinate our plants, ladybirds eat the pests on our crops, and worms help to keep our soil healthy.
Life-cycles form an important part of this project and we’ll be giving the children a chance to watch their very own hungry caterpillars growing and turning into beautiful butterflies, which we’ll release in the school grounds.
Problem solving, reasoning and numeracy can all be supported by activities that lend themselves well to this project.
- Minibeast surveys using tally/mark making charts
- Minibeast counting games – spots, legs, wings
- Sorting – minibeasts with legs/spots/wings etc
- Repeating patterns – threading bead caterpillars
- Measuring quantities in cooking (honey sandwiches/honey cakes)
- Symmetry – butterflies
To encourage our children to experiment creatively we offer a wife range of arts and crafts activities.
Children often particularly enjoy cookery activities, which can also tie in nicely with a minibeast theme!
One cooking activity is able to promote all seven areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage and because children enjoy the experience so much, they aren’t even aware they are learning about numbers or developing skills. As well as this, it’s a sensory experience often using all five senses, making it a more memorable experience and truly engaging for the early years age-group.
There is a wealth of children’s fiction and non-fiction books that support this topic. ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ is always a firm favourite that children love to act out and re-tell.
There are also lots of songs and nursery rhymes that we’ll share together in nursery, such as ‘Incey- Wincey Spider’, ‘Ladybird Ladybird’ and ‘Little Miss Muffet’. The children love taking part with actions and words.
Here are some fascinating facts about minibeasts that you can share with your child. Did you know…
Eating Habits: Most minibeasts eat either plants or other invertebrates. But did you know that some eat more unusual things, including solid wood, animal droppings and rotten food? It might sound disgusting but they are very good for the environment because they recycle lots of waste materials!
Camouflage: Minibeasts are great at disappearing into the background. They use camouflage to protect themselves from being eaten or to help them creep up on and catch other creatures.
Explosion of Colour: Whilst some minibeasts try to blend into their background, others want to stand out. Bright colours are often a warning to predators like birds. It means that the creature tastes nasty or is poisonous, so predators know to leave it alone.
Great Pretenders: Lots of minibeasts pretend to be what they are not, to fool other creatures! The Peacock butterfly has patterns that look like eyes on its wings to fool predators like birds. Many minibeasts mimic bees and wasps, like the hoverfly which doesn’t have a real sting but still manages to fool other creatures.
If any of our parents have a particular interest in our project, and would be willing to come in to give the children a small talk, please speak to a teacher to arrange this.
The world of minibeasts is amazing. There is always something new to learn, so we’ll be putting on our sunhats and sun cream, packing our binoculars and magnifying glasses, and setting off to explore the incredible tiny world that’s all around us!