Minibeasts – Working Scientifically

Project Overview

Our science topic this half term was about the invertebrates ‘minibeasts’. We kicked off our learning with a minibeast hunt in the campfire area of school. The children found slimy creatures, insects with shells and lots of creepy crawlies and observed them in detail with a magnifying glass. We discussed similarities and differences and talked about the names of insects we weren’t familiar with.

The children then used microscopes to look really closely at millipedes and spiders. The discussions we received from the children were amazing: “You can see all the lines in the body”, “I can see lots of legs as they are walking across the screen”, “the spider looks smooth without the microscope, but when you see it closely it has spiky hair!”

We classified minibeasts in to three different groups according to their characteristics and worked together in small groups to discuss which group each insect should go into. These groups looked at insects with an exoskeleton (e.g. beetles), with a soft body (e.g. slugs) and bugs that are tubular shape with a segmented body (e.g. worms).

In the classroom, we looked after five caterpillars which grew every day and spun silk in preparation to form as a chrysalis. They were displayed in class so the children were free to look at them when they wanted and experienced the life cycle from caterpillar to butterfly. Once the caterpillar had formed into a chrysalis it took approximately 2 weeks until the butterflies emerged. We then needed to feed them sugar solution and fruit until we set them free in the playground 2-3 days later.

What The Student Says

“Those insects look creepy under the microscope!” –  1FP pupil

“The baby caterpillars are so cute, I loved seeing them fly away!” – 1LS pupil

“Look at all of the colours on the butterfly’s wings” – 1FP pupil

“We have caterpillars! Look, you can see the empty chrysalis and the butterfly on the side of the net – we need to give it some fruit!” – 1FP pupil

What skills were developed?

  • To work scientifically as a ‘real’ scientist would do
  • To observe minibeasts closely, using simple equipment
  • Speech and language to discuss ideas
  • Discussions with others to pose simple questions about the minibeasts
  • The ability to identify and classify insects

What The Teacher Says

“The children absolutely loved this topic! They were amazed to find so many varieties of minibeasts and took the time to look at them through the magnifying glasses as well as look at what other children had found. They  classified the minibeasts in small groups and had great conversations about the features they could see.  They were able to discuss what they could see on their minibeasts but also listened to their peers when they explained their creepy crawly. All the children could see through the microscopes and describe their observations – some loved seeing them so close, others not so much!” 

Miss Holmes, Year 1 teacher.