When children see insects/bugs in their natural environment it can provide a realistic understanding of how harmless these tiny creatures really are. An average garden has approximately 2,000 different species of insects/bugs. In order to understand the conditions that minibeasts prefer take your child on an exploration of a garden. Plan this carefully together. What resources will you need in order to examine the insects/bugs?Talk to your child about the importance of carefully handling insects and placing them into a safe tub or jar in order to get a better look. Here is a great opportunity to develop your child's empathy, talk about the need to replace the insect back to it's correct habitat, carefully and safely.
Guide your child to the areas in which they will not find much life (dry, bright and bare areas) and then to areas that will be abundant with minibeast life (dark, damp and sheltered). Help your child to understand this link, that certain habitats will support life.
This is what we found on our minibeast hunt today!
Once you have established what each type of insect/bug is with your child, begin to consider the idea of building a minibeast hotel! If you encourage your child to design the hotel and choose the correct location for it, you will encourage and sustain their interest and enjoyment.
You do not need to purchase expensive resources for your hotel, in fact quite the opposite! Here is the perfect opportunity to encourage recycling, use of any throw away item that you can find. Items from around the house and garden can be used, encourage your child to be as creative as possible when thinking of their design.Small Terracotta Hotel
The most simplistic design involves the construction of tubes from newspaper thus encouraging your child's fine motor-skills. This will also allow exploration of the capacity of the container that is to be filled. Looking around the garden we found an old flowerpot. This was an ideal resource as it was easy for a five year old to handle independently. Help your child to roll the initial length of newspaper. Roll it into a tube that is slightly smaller than the pot. Ensure that the tubes are big enough to allow minibeast to crawl into. Pack the tubes tightly into your container. Now find the perfect location for your little home.
This hotel will take the form of a tube. We recycled an old crisps (potato chip) canister. We used old garden string to wrap around the outside of the cylinder and looped long handles in order to hang it from a tree.
Ensuring your child's safety when constructing a hotel is crucial. It's important that they attempt to build the hotels independently, all used tools must be appropriate for your child's age. Ensure that your child is wearing appropriate clothing and if possible gloves, particularly when pushing items such as bamboo canes into containers.
Now insert the bamboo canes into the cylinder and discuss what length the bamboo should be. Cut your bamboo to size (this was an adult job for us!) Fill the cylinder up with bamboo canes. Attach the hotel to the chosen tree top/shrub location and wait for your guests to arrive!
Brick and Pipe Five Star Hotel
We were starting to gain more confidence and decided to create a deluxe model. We had found a lot of the minibeasts under bricks that line the borders to the garden and therefore decided to incorporate these into our final luxurious design.
It is really important to talk about how to hold heavy items such as bricks safely.We also decided to protect our hands with gardening gloves when transporting them. We found another broken flower pot and grouped the bricks into it. We covered them with conifer cuttings and dry leaves. Alongside our main building we placed an inviting pile of large branches and old plastic tubing, hoping to entice larger minibeasts.
Return to your hotel a week later and observe what guests have come to stay! We can't wait!
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