This year we’ve started following an amazing nature curriculum by Raising Little Shoots called Exploring Nature with Children. It’s suitable for all ages as you can pick and choose what you do and how deeply you’ll explore a topic. The curriculum gives you ideas, book recommendations, a poem and a piece of art work to explore for a week. This week is Minibeasts Week and I can’t wait to show you some of the lovely resources I’ve gathered together for this week and tell you how and why we are using them. You don’t need to be following this specific curriculum to get lots of minibeast ideas from this post to explore in your own way at home or school.
What I love about the curriculum is that you don’t need to have specific resources you can just use them as recommendations. Hopefully, the resources that you see in this minibeast post will give you ideas of what you might be able to use that you already have and things you could make. Things that I really like I often add to a wish list and periodically add things to our collection. Lots of the items we have in our collection have many purposes and are used time and time again. I’ll pop a list of links to resources at the bottom of the post if you’d like to know where to get things from.
There are three things that have naturally become part of our rhythm alongside this curriculum. Firstly, is to get out in nature. We often go to the same nature reserve, but it can be as simple as your garden or a local park. Going to the same place is great to be able to observe the changes with the passing of the seasons. Secondly, is to collect some natural treasures. These might be seeds, leaves, twigs, berries and bring them home to observe further and add to our nature display. Then we use the experience of observing nature and our collections to complete a nature journal entry for that week. Both my little one and I have our own journals and we paint, draw or collage together. It’s a lovely, shared experience. If you’re looking for a mindfulness activity to do alongside your child this is PERFECT!
I often get asked about what age you can nature journal with children and my honest answer is any. We’ve only recently started and I wish we had done sooner. Floss is now just three and thoroughly enjoys our weekly journalling sessions.
Child Led Minibeasts
I always try to incorporate what my daughter, Floss, is interested in as we enjoy this nature based curriculum. Right now she’s loving print and letters and developing an understanding that collections of letters come together to form words. With this in mind I printed off an extra set of the minibeast flash cards and separated the words from the pictures on the extra set. We then used these as Montessori three part cards to match picture and words. Floss is also enjoying identifying initial sounds in words so I’ve added the oak letters to match with our minibeasts too. If you’re beginning phonics you might be interested in the phonics blog series I write – link here.
The flashcards and minibeast sheet from Fiddlesticks.Kids are beautifully illustrated by the lovely Becca. We use these to identify creatures that we find, as bug hunting recorders with a clipboard and also as stimulus for our nature journalling. These are the ones I made into Montessori three part cards by printing an extra set. For spotting we also love the Usborne 199 range of books, the perfect size to pop in your bag while you’re out and about exploring.
Small World & Story Props
The puppets, minibeast figures and story stones always get used lots in our home. Floss is very much into small world play and using props with stories so these sort of resources are ideal. Often you get a really good understanding of what she has learnt by watching her play with these toys. Listening as she acts out different adventures using her newly acquired language.
We use bakeable play dough from Tiny Land to make different characters and use alongside some of our wooden treasures. This is a lovely activity when exploring minibeasts as it requires careful observation of either creatures in real life or books to be able to choose colours and add features to your models. We have bees and ladybirds, but you could easily try beetles, spiders, caterpillars, butterflies etc. A great fine motor activity for control and strength too!
Once we’ve headed out into nature to observe first hand our next favourite thing is to get creative in lots of different ways. This year we enjoyed learning more about bees and looked at the products they make and ways that we can use the products. Here’s a blog post on how we used these beeswax resources. You could also have an afternoon tea with honey and bread.
Into the Wild
We’re members of the Wildlife Trust and they run lots of brilliant sessions on how to bug hunt using soft brushes and little magnifying pots to help you observe minibeasts safely. Definitely check out their website for events local to you if you’re in the UK, I can’t recommend them enough. We love a particular session called Nature Tots.
Generally, when looking at a topic like minibeasts I’ll see what Floss becomes more interested in and we’ll go off and focus more on that particular creature. Some of the creatures we’ve enjoyed looking at in more detail this year have included bees, caterpillars and ladybirds. Usually it focuses around what she’s observed during our nature explorations and what minibeasts we’ve been lucky enough to find.
Minibeasts & More
For children a lot of the learning they are doing is around the acquisition of new language associated with different topics. Using language in a range of ways and contexts helps children to consolidate these new words. Floss loves counting right now so using objects related to the theme you are looking at while exploring numbers is the perfect idea to apply new vocabulary alongside other learning opportunities. Very much a more thematic way of exploring learning.
Ladybirds are great for looking at doubles with little ones. Minibeasts are perfect for counting the number of legs. You can then discuss which insects are minibeasts by looking at bodies and number of legs. For older children you could look at sorting using Carroll diagrams.
Last year I set up a minibeasts themed area at home with lots more ideas – link is here.
Another lovely minibeasts activity is to use loose parts to make bugs. Now these can be naturally found resources such as twigs, leaves and seeds or you can use other resources such as Grapat Mandala pieces or Rainbow pebbles to make your creatures. Conkers make great body parts!
I’d love to know how you’ve been investigating minibeasts, please do share in comments.
Minibeast Songs we Love
- Incy Wincy Spider
- This pack by Learning Resources HQ is brilliant – lots of bug rhymes – link here
- All Things Bright and Beautiful (religious)
- Grimms Letter cards
- Mini Beast Flash Cards
- Imagistones Story Stones
- Lanka Kade Wooden Bugs
- Stamps – Charity shop find. I often find fab stamps like this in charity shops. Worth looking a few weeks ahead and collecting things ready.
- Letters – Reelwood Solid Oak Letters
- Three Part Puzzle Cards – www.tlji.com – I’ve asked them where you can get them from in the UK as I love them. I got them from TKMaxx. I’ll update if they get back to me.
Other Items in Images
- Grimms Rainbow
- Beeswax Modelling Wax
- Beeswax Candle Making
- SumBlox Numbers
Hope you’ve found this post useful, happy bug hunting! – Love Lisa & Floss 🙂