As part of our studies into minibeasts we discussed where they live during the mat session. We’ve been providing magnifying glasses during Outdoor Play time and I have been lifting up rocks or looking under bark and showing children how to find insects and other bugs. Consequently they came to the discussion with some prior knowledge. I also bought a digital portable microscope to have a look at the bugs with but I found it difficult to use properly and of course it ended up being infuriating for the children to use so we stuck with the magnifying glasses.
A few days earlier to making our habitat we painted the bases (we used pasteboard cut into 10 x 10cm squares) and then stuck the pieces together into a kind of half box shape. I used cover paper to make hinges (folded it in half) to join the pieces together to form the box. We painted one piece green for the grass/ground and the other two pieces blue for the sky.
Once the boxes were dry we went about making our bug to go into the habitat. Once again we used the plastic bugs as a model to look at while we made our bug from plasticine. I thought this child did a great job of capturing the praying mantis.
Then we set about making our habitat. We put some green card on the table for the children to make some grass from. They cut it into zig zaggy shapes and then folded the end over so it sat up on the base. We also gave them some cotton wool balls for clouds. We drew some grass, flowers and other details straight onto the sky with colouring in pencils.
Once the habitat was completed we placed our plasticine bugs inside the habitat and displayed them along our kitchen bench. In the past we have painted the bugs with a couple of coats of PVA glue. This makes them a little harder (and therefore hardier) and glossy. They look fine without this extra step though and you don’t have to wait for the bug to dry before putting it in the habitat.