Minibeast survey

Learning outcome
  • To use knowledge of habitats to locate minbeasts and use a key to identify them (one hour session)
  • To recognise how a minibeast has adapted to its environment (extension for two hour session)
Key Stubbington focus

Environment - minibeasts

  • For Key Stage 2
  • Duration 1 or 2 hours
Success criteria
  • I can identify places where minibeasts can be found
  • I can explain what is meant by the term minibeast
  • I can safely locate minibeasts and transfer a minibeast to a pot
  • I can look closely to identify features and answer questions
Session plan

Introduction 10 minutes

In pairs, ask children to name as many different minibeasts as they can in 30 seconds. In Britain alone there are over 25,000 species of invertebrates known.


What classifies an animal as a minibeast?


Animals without a backbone. Do not have a skeleton inside. Some have a shell to live in. Some, like insects and spiders, have a thin, strong outside covering called an exoskeleton.

Invertebrates are grouped according to their characteristics.

To qualify as an insect, an animal must have 6 legs and a body divided into 3 parts – a head, a thorax and an abdomen.

To be an arachnid, an animal must have 8 legs. Insects and arachnids are probably the easiest minibeasts to classify. Main: (40 mins)


Where do minibeasts like to live?

Do certain types of minibeasts live in particular areas?

As each one is discussed, share the best way to locate and handle minibeast.

  • Under stones – Use the stone wall near Badger Bog. Lift stones carefully and replace carefully afterwards
  • Leaf litter – Outside the classroom, around well
  • Loose Soil – Outside the classroom, around well
  • Long Grass – Towards Badger Bog. Be careful when you take a sweep with the net
  • In trees – Place a white sheet under a tree and ask a teacher to help you shake the branches
  • Under Logs – Use the logs in the area outside the classroom, including the area around the well

Use spoons and collecting pots to collect minibeasts. Use hand lens to observe in more detail.

Make sure children know how to use the key. Distribute keys, sheets and clipboards.

Children to work in pairs to locate, collect and identify minibeasts.

Plenary 10 minutes

What have children found out? Are certain types of minibeasts located in particular places?


Extended two hour session

Looking at minibeasts in more detail

For the first hour the children locate and identify minibeasts, as outlined. At the end of the first session the children can select a minibeast to look at in more detail after a break (this might be more practical to do this in twos or threes depending on the size of the group). The minibeast is placed in a pot with a secure lid and left in the classroom.

The children then have a short break.


Ask the children which type of habitat they think their minibeasts prefers, ask them to give reasons to explain and justify their answers. Challenge them to prove this. Briefly discuss ways this could be done and lead the discussion towards setting up a ‘choice chamber’. Explain how a white tray could be used to house four habitats, one in each corner and then put the minibeast in the centre and observe which one it settles in – prefers. Discuss the various types of habitats/environments that could be used, make sure you include light, dark, wet and dry.

Show children the worksheet, which outlines this and can record results. Point out that whilst the minibeast is making its choice, other observations can be made and recorded on the sheet.


Children decide on the four habitats they are going to test and gather the relevant material. Make sure children know where they can gather material from, work with a partner and have adults distributed around the collection area. Children then use the material to set up their ‘choice chamber’ and put their minibeast in.

The children can use the worksheet to record their observations of this test and other observations of the minibeast.


Ask children what they have found out. Now they have looked even more carefully at the minibeast, can they identify the features which show how it is adapted to this habitat?

The minibeasts need to be carefully returned to where they were collected from. The pots and trays need to be emptied and rinsed out.

Less able children

Adult support with using keys.

More able children

Explain why some minibeasts are found in particular locations.

Previsit activities

Research minibeasts – what will they expect to find and where? Making predictions.

Follow up activities

Graph of results - Survey of school grounds and compare with their results from Stubbington Study Centre.

Health and safety checks
  • Adult to bang tree and supervise this area
  • Explain to children how to safely turn and move logs and stones. An adult to supervise the stone wall
  • Show children how to carry nets upright and then safely sweep with them
  • Stay away from the ponds
  • Wear long trousers, as ticks may be present in the long grass
  • Wash hands at the end of the session