If you’re stuck for ideas for a free activity with the children over the summer holidays, why not try going on a minibeast hunt?
Not only does it provide a purpose to a walk (and escape from screen time!) but there are many skills that can be developed and knowledge learnt. It’s also brilliant fun and can be enjoyed by a range of ages.
How do you do a minibeast hunt?
Minibeast hunts can simply be going for a walk and looking for insects. What’s fantastic about this activity though, is you can differentiate it easily to match the children’s ability and ages. For example they could take a note pad and camera to document what they find, or you could create an identification sheet with a list/pictures of creatures for them to tick off.
What Skills Can Children Develop During a Minibeast hunt?
–Identification Skills- Working out which insect is which is no easy task, children are learning how to notice the characteristics of each creature and how to compare them to others.
‘Have you noticed that bee has yellow and black stripes?’
‘How does that bee differ from that wasp we saw?’
With support they may even start to learn how to categorise the Minibeasts
‘Which other insects have stripes and wings like a bee?‘
We used this placemat by Edge Ahead Learning Resources Ltd after our Minibeast hunt to provide another opportunity for the children to practise identifying and categorising Minibeasts. This wooden placemat, with its bold and bright Minibeast illustrations is a stunning resource to help support this topic.
– Patience– As my friend pointed out, when we took three under 4s for a minibeast hunt, patience is definitely key! Children soon learn the reward of being quiet, calm and patient- when it means they discover more interesting Minibeasts. And as I’m sure you’ll agree, patience is a tricky skill for children- so any, fun opportunity to practise is golden!
–Numeracy- Through counting and documenting the various different Minibeasts you find during a hunt, basic numeracy skills can be developed. Children can practise their counting and even addition (adding the number Minibeasts they found together, for example)
– Speech, Language and Communication Skills- In my experience, Minibeast hunts are a brilliant opportunity to get children talking. Many children will be excited by their discoveries and keen to share the news of which insect they have found. Prompting with questions and modelling descriptions about observations, can further fuel this opportunity.
What Knowledge can Children Acquire from a Minibeast Hunt?
– Names of Insects- Using books and other resources to support, children can learn the names of the various different Minibeasts they find. We found that a placemat at home with the names of the Minibeasts on helps to reinforce learning during meal times.
– Habitats- Minibeast hunts provide a brilliant opportunity for children to learn what habitats are and the various factors needed for creatures to stay alive. Whilst searching for the Minibeasts you can discuss where they might live, and why. Whether they need to hide from any predators, need to be near a water source, near their food etc.
–Food Chains- This activity lends itself nicely to introducing simple food chains. Discussing what the Minibeasts might eat and which animals that might eat them. Key terms such as ‘producer’ can also be taught during this activity.
How Can you Further Enhance and Support a Child’s Learning of Minibeasts?
We were excited to discover Edge Ahead Learning Resources LTD (who kindly sponsored this post) have resources to support and enhance learning about insects. They have three beautiful products under the Minibeast beast theme, a placemat, a Minibeast t-shirt and a Food Chain t-shirt.
The placemat features 17 brightly coloured types of Minibeasts with their corresponding names typed below. We loved that it helped reinforce children’s understanding of Minibeasts and excite them about the topic. Having it on a placemat is clever, as meal times are a often an excellent time for talking together as a family and it provides a prompt for conversation.
Six of the most popular Minibeasts can be found on their beautifully simplistic Minibeast t-shirt. Their Food Chain T-shirts displays a simple food chain of three stages (carrot, rabbit, fox) with the key scientific words ‘producer’, ‘consumer’ and ‘predator’ underneath. Again, both these resources help to support a child’s learning of the topic (as people they talk to throughout the day are likely to comment on it and ask them questions). It also makes them excited about Minibeasts, food chains and science in general, keen to learn more and provided them with ownership over their own learning.