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Exploring The Life All Around Us

What you need...

How to prepare...

This activity doesn't need any preparation in advance of getting started with the children. A dry and sunny day might be the easiest option, but do consider going ahead with this activity even in the rain - it might be interesting to see if you get different results depending on the weather...

The activity process...

  1. Select your sample tree or bush. A tree is ideal, but a reasonably large shrub will work fine too. Peg your sheet out beneath the plant, trying to make it pulled tight.
  2. Carefully give the tree/bush a shake, being careful not to damage the plant. The idea is to dislodge some of the little creatures living in amongst the leaves, so use your judgement about how hard to work.
  3. Once you see the sheet is scattered with bits of plant and some creepy-crawlies, hand out the magnifying glasses and encourage the children to start exploring what they've found.

At this point how you proceed with the activity will depend a bit on the ages of the children involved. It's a great example of a child-led activity, so don't worry too much about steering their exploration in any particular direction. Some things you might consider doing include:

  • Keeping track of how many different types of insect are found, and which types are the most common.
  • Counting the legs on different insects using magnifying glasses
  • Using a book or the internet to try and identify the names of the insects by comparing the real thing to photos
  • Encouraging children to touch or gently hold insects, exploring fears and overcoming them
  • Talking about the importance of being gentle and not harming the insects
  • Considering predator-prey relationships and talking about why having lots of different creatures are important

Tracking this activity...

16 - 26 months

Mathematics, Numbers; "Says some counting words randomly."

22 - 36 months

Physical Development, Moving & Handling; "Squats with steadiness to rest or play with object on the ground, and rises to feet without using hands"

Mathematics, Numbers; "Recites some number names in sequence"

Understanding the World, The World; "Notices detailed features of objects in their environment"

30 - 50 months

Mathematics, Numbers; "Shows an interest in numerals in the environment."

Understanding the World, The World; "Can talk about some of the things they have observed such as plants, animals, natural and found objects."

40 - 60+ months

Mathematics, Numbers; "Counts objects to 10, and beginning to count beyond 10."