Minibeasts are everywhere, including your garden!
Read this article to learn about all the different minibeasts and bugs so you can search for them yourself. There's so much to learn about these minibeast bugs and you can have so much fun while doing it, we have listed six activities for you at the end of the article that are simple, free and involve some playtime.
What Are Minibeasts?
Minibeasts are really small animals, that's why they are called mini! They're still ferocious little guys and these minibeasts are essential to our world. We really do need these little bugs.
These creepy crawlies are classified as invertebrates, that's their scientific name. Invertebrates don't have a backbone. They are soft and bendy, which is why some, like snails, have shells. Others have an exoskeleton that is tough and protective, like spiders and ants. This is a super strong layer on the outside of their body to protect their squidgy underneath.
There are three major groups of minibeast. They are Arthropods, Molluscs and Annelids.
Annelids are minibeasts that have no legs and no outer shell. Worms are in this category and we think you'll be able to find some outside if you search for them, make sure you don't get dirty though.
Molluscs have soft bodies, with a head and foot region and can be found in the sea and on the ground. Snails and clams are mini beast molluscs. Next time you're at the beach, make sure to search for these minibeasts and get a good look at them.
Arthropods are the largest group you need to know for your minibeasts facts. They include insects, spiders, crustaceans and myriapods (such as millipedes and centipedes). Make sure to keep note of these for your own resources about minibeasts, then when you do your free activity, it'll be fun and simple to do.
To count as an insect, a minibeast must have six legs and three parts to their body: head, thorax and abdomen. To count as arachnid, it must have eight legs.
Where Do They Live?
Minibeasts are found everywhere! You can be having fun in your garden, the beach or at a woodland when you find a few of these creepy guys.
Minibeasts are really special because they are adapted to live in a variety of different habitats and climates. Insects and arachnids have waterproof exoskeletons, so they can live in dry ecosystems such as deserts. Their exoskeletons reduce water loss from their bodies which means they can go ages without needing water. That's not like us, we need to make sure we regularly hydrate with water!
In Britain, invertebrates are found in every location. Their main habitats are rivers, lakes, ponds, grasslands, woodlands, seashores and even your garden. What's so fun about minibeasts is that they even have homes within homes! These are called microhabitats. This means that some minibeasts will be found in certain places within their habitat. An old log is a microhabitat within a woodland where you could search for woodlice. Woodlice are crustaceans in the arthropod group. If you search for a minibeast in your garden, you might find a little insect under a rock. That rock is another microhabitat.
Lots of habitats make up an ecosystem - the larger area where all living and non-living things live. Think of it as a community where all the different minibeasts (and other living things) live together. Each living and non-living thing in an ecosystem habitat has a role to play. They either produce, consume, or decompose. So everyone is necessary. When you put your resources to the test and look for a minibeast, be sure not to mess up their community. Each of these little bugs has a role to play so it's important they do it.
10 Facts About Minibeasts
Children will love these facts about our favourite little insects.
Minibeasts make up 97% of creatures living on earth.
Most use their sense of smell, as well as touch and taste, to navigate the world around them rather than sight or hearing.
They have lived on earth for 550 million years.
Slugs have four noses but only one foot.
A land snail can lift up to ten times its body weight.
Butterflies and caterpillars use their feet to taste.
There are 25,000 species of invertebrate in England.
Beetles are the most common insects on the planet.
Fireflies are the smallest insects on the planet, at around 0. 139mm long.
A strand of spider silk is twice as strong as a strand of steel.
Glossary Of Words To Know
You can use this glossary to help your children remember the different words in this topic.
Invertebrates: Animals that don't have a backbone.
Exoskeleton: The outer skeleton that protects an insect's soft body.
Endoskeleton: An internal skeleton, like we humans have.
Shell: The hard or protective outer case of a mollusc or crustacean.
These are great and simple activities for children to do, they will help kids to understand what they have learnt about minibeasts.
Butterfly Symmetry Painting
Butterflies are some of the most beautiful creatures and the patterns on their wings are symmetrical (one wing mirrors the other wing). For this activity, draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper and get your children to paint on one half of the paper. Then fold the paper along the line so the paint transfers to the other side and you'll find it mirrors the other side!
Using paper plates, some scissors, paints and decorations, this is a simple activity for children to do that you can help them with. Cut out a triangle in the plate to make room for their nose and cut out two eye shapes. Then you start painting and decorating the masks, using their own knowledge of creepy crawlies. We think it would be great fun if you use these masks in a theatrical way to talk about minibeasts. You could get your children to pretend to be a minibeast and tell you what they have learnt.
Creepy Crawlies Collage
Using different materials such as pens, paints, and stickers, you can create a minibeast collage with your children. You could even put some facts they've learnt on it too. They'll fall in love with learning with this activity.
This is a great, simple and fun activity for children to do. All you do is paint their hands (not the thumb) and overlap the handprints to create a spider (with eight fingers making eight legs). To create a masterpiece, add little details like googly eyes or help to draw on more detailed spider features.
This is a more educational activity, but it can be fun, free and a wonderful way for children to learn about minibeasts. Either use an online resource or create your own big, bright flashcards with images and vocabulary that you've learnt in this blog. Practice talking to your child with these flashcards, getting them to recognise and name different minibeasts and prompting further discussion around the topic.
Rock Bug Paints
All you need for this is some pebbles and paint. After finding some pebbles and making sure no minibeasts are still on them, paint the pebbles to look like specific different minibeasts, finally using googly eyes to bring them to life.
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