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Minibeast Safari

Resources
White sheet [bugboxes/magnifying glasses and minibeast chart are optional]

Where
Skinny Woods, Tall Trees, Greengables/Greendykes House Hedgerow, Greendykes Road Hedgerow, Hawkhill Wood, Innocent Walkway, Craigmillar Castle Park.

Why
To explore the diverse homes, body shapes, activities and functions of small bugs and insects, in order to stop myths about such small creatures, and develop an empathy with them.

How
It is very important to stress all the way through this activity that the creatures must not be harmed—the idea is to watch them in their homes. Rocks and logs can be likened to the roofs on our own homes (to emphasise their importance) and must be replaced carefully after watching. When the children have shown they can do this, they may be able to take some minibeasts out of their environment, using bug boxes and pooters. However, the creatures must be treated gently and after looking at them closely, they must be put back where they were found.

Ask the children to think about where they might hide if they were small animals, not wanting to be stood on or eaten! Suggest that under logs or rocks would be good places to start looking! How many different kinds of minibeast can you find? You can use a chart to identify some of the creatures found, but this is not absolutely necessary. Ask the children to describe the shapes of the creatures, and whether they are hard or soft, dry or slimy. Do they have legs? If so, how many? What might they eat here? What might eat them? What might put off other animals from eating them? What would it feel like to be that small? Encourage good practice by carefully removing logs or rocks and carefully removing a creature, then carefully placing the minibeast back where it was found and gently placing the log or rock back on top of it.

Other places to hide include the leaves and twigs of bushes and trees. In order to look at these creatures, place the sheet on the ground under the branch of a bush or tree and gently shake the branch, so that the minibeasts land on the sheet. These species will be very different to the kinds of animals found under logs and rocks. This technique can also be used in long grass.

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Go explore for yourself!