National Insect Week has been running biennially since 2004, and at Hand Made Places we’re excited to be celebrating again! This year we’re sharing our ideas for minibeast activities in and outside the classroom.
Read on to find out all about the campaign, how to get involved, and why we’re passionate about creepy-crawlies!
National Insect Week
A large proportion of the population has something of a fear or a dislike of insects. Admittedly, it’s perfectly fine not to want to get too close to minibeasts. However, many of these ‘microscopic wonders’ are hugely important to our ecosystem. Furthermore, the vast diversity of insect species means there’s an endless stream of discovery keeping entomologists and other scientists busy.
Did you know: the United Kingdom is home to over 24,000 species of insect… and less than 0.5% of these are pests!
Education is at the heart of National Insect Week. That’s because the Royal Entomological Society aims to encourage people of all ages to learn about the earth’s tiny helpers. From pond dipping to photography courses, there are fascinating events to suit anyone across the UK.
Scuttling into schools: Minibeast activities
By promoting investigation and exploration as part of lessons, children think for themselves. However, taking those lessons outside the classroom ensures pupils take these strong thinking skills into the real world. That’s why, at Hand Made Places, we think schools should encourage children to learn in the great outdoors.
National Insect Week is a perfect opportunity for this! Here are our top ideas for outdoor learning through minibeast activities:
Plant a wildflower patch
Wildflowers are amongst the easiest plants to grow. This means children will feel a great sense of achievement! Not only are wildflowers particularly eye-catching, they’re also well-known to encourage activity from bees.
Bees are exceptionally important to our eco-system; in planting bee-friendly flowers, children have the opportunity to learn about plant reproduction whilst benefitting the environment. You can view our range of treated planters here.
This is a great way of using recycled materials to create something new. Instead of building an ornament which will eventually go to waste, a miniature garden allows children to be imaginative and green in a productive way. Simply find a plastic tray and clear moss from a slippery path – you have the perfect base for your gardens! For more ideas, follow the advice on this RHS activity page.
To make the most of this learning opportunity, we recommend teaching about the perfect environments for ladybirds and woodlice.
Take children outside for a minibeast search activity, encouraging them to observe insects at work. Make sure you have some pictures to-hand in case you don’t spot them in the perfect location! This will act as the ‘inspiration’ stage for their art.
You can teach about symmetry while children complete artistic activities such ‘fold-over’ butterfly paintings and the ‘draw the other half’ bee worksheet from our resource page.
There are plenty of mathematical challenges you can set which are based on minibeast activities. One of the best ways to teach about graphs and statistics is to allow children to collect their own data. Therefore, we suggest an insect hunt for making tally charts of habitats, types of species and distinguishing features.
Hand Made Places produces products for encouraging minibeasts. As well as helping insects to thrive, the Minibeast Motel and Minibeast HQ also make it easy to spot and count our little friends. As an extension, counting and multiplying legs also gives children an opportunity to brush up on their six times-tables!
To really inspire further learning, we suggest raising points for discussion whilst children are ‘on location’. If you have an outdoor classroom, this is a great place to discuss the importance of our insect population. Furthermore, as you sit outdoors, why not discuss all the different careers and hobbies that can stem from an interest in insects. For example, photography.
You can find plenty more ideas for minibeast activities on our Resources & Downloads Page.
If you’ve been inspired to take children outside for insect-based learning, make sure to let us know on Twitter or Facebook! Whichever way you celebrate, make sure you protect minibeasts this Insect Week.