Bugs, spiders, ladybirds, butterflies and slugs all fall into the category of minibeasts. Scientifically, a minibeast is a creature that does not have an internal skeleton. Students may think minibeasts are creepy, crawly and slimy bugs. Engage students with hands-on activities to help them understand what minibeasts eat, how they live and where they can be found in the natural environment.
After introducing minibeasts to the students, take the kids on a field trip to a forest or field. Assign each of the students a small area (3 to 5 feet in diameter) and have a contest to see who can find the most minibeasts. Encourage the children to look under rocks and leaves. The students will be surprised to see the number and diversity of the minibeasts that inhabit these areas.
To bring the natural environment inside, purchase a butterfly garden or dome so students can watch the life cycle of the butterfly. Assign a time each day the students can take turns observing the dome. The butterfly begins as an egg. After two to three weeks, a caterpillar emerges from the egg. The caterpillar, which begins life small, grows exponentially until it begins to moult, shedding their skin three or four times before creating a cocoon, or chrysalis. The chrysalis begins as a green hard covering and over the course of a few weeks becomes transparent as the caterpillar becomes a butterfly.
Have students set the butterflies free after they emerge because they only live another two weeks.
For younger children, Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" provides a visual introduction to minibeasts and more specifically to butterflies. Read and discuss the book with students. To make it more interactive, bring in a stuffed caterpillar and all the fruits detailed in the book. After you finish reading the book, have all the students make butterflies with construction paper and talk about the transformation of the caterpillar.
Minibeasts come in many shapes and sizes. Give the children styrofoam balls, pipe cleaners, small coloured balls and glue so they can make their own version of the creatures. Have them tell you about their minibeast creation: What it eats, where it lives and its life cycle. If you have space, ask students to create a natural environment in which their fictional minibeasts live. Split the class in two and have them present their fictional minibeasts to each other or have parents come in to see the display so the children can show parents what they have learnt.