Enquiry 3: Animals & their Environments

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Key questions

> What animals are in our environment?
> Where are they?


Children will be given the opportunity to search for minibeasts in the school grounds. This activity focuses on helping children develop the scientific / geographical skills of observing. The children will classify (sort) their animals (or those pictures in Investigation 03a, if a range of animals were not found).


Collect resources required. Choose an outside area where the children can search for minibeasts. Ensure the area is clean and that litter has been removed.

Learning outcomes
On completing these activities all children will be able to:
> collect minibeasts and make close observations, recording their observations using
detailed drawings / maps; and
> classify animals into groups and develop lists of characteristics for each group.


  • Dessert Spoons / Teaspoons / Small trowel
  • Collection box with lid (e.g. plastic lunchbox, take away containers)
  • Magnifiers / Bug viewers (optional)
  • Multiple copies of picture / photo cards in envelopes (Investigation 03a)
  • Minibeast Hunt worksheet (Investigation 03b)
Pdf ../../../../../../../../aai-files/assets/Environment/Environment for Kids/Eco Detectives/03a-minibeast-identification-card.pdf
Pdf ../../../../../../../../aai-files/assets/Environment/Environment for Kids/Eco Detectives/03b-minibeast-hunt.pdf

Learning activities

1. Give each pair/ group a large and a small spoon and a collection box with lid. Let the children search for minibeasts in the soil, leaf litter and under rocks or fallen branches.

2. The children bring the minibeasts into the classroom. The children observe one minibeast at a time, using the following types of questions:

> Where was it found: Was it light or dark? Dry or wet? In the open or underneath something else?

> Look at its head and body: What do you see? Is it hard or soft / big or small? Does it have legs?
Does it have wings? How many?

> Look at how it moves: Does it move all the time? Does it move quickly or slowly? Does it leave a trail?

3. Encourage the children to make a drawing of the minibeast they are observing and where they found it, using the Minibeast Hunt page (Investigation 03b). Each group can then discuss their observations in pairs / with the whole class.

4. Give each group a set of picture cards (Investigation 03a) and afford them a few minutes to look at the different pictures. Encourage the children to discuss the characteristics of each of the picture cards – by asking the same types of questions as above.

5. Each group then sorts the cards into two, three and four groups (or more) in turn. Encourage the children to name their groups each time, e.g. flying group, hairy group, etc. The children could then paste the pictures onto larger sheets of paper.


• In classifying and then justifying their actions the children are working as scientists.
• It is important to try to avoid telling the children the names of the minibeasts immediately. Let them observe the minibeasts first, and then perhaps later tell them the names.
• The children should be encouraged to return the minibeasts to their natural environment. They should wash their hands, and the surfaces on which they were observing the minibeasts should be cleaned thoroughly.