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EYFS: Minibeast mapping


This activity builds on experiences of exploring the immediate environment while developing observation and recording skills in a familiar space. Minibeast mapping also builds on developing graphicacy and map-making skills. Children are invited to observe minibeasts in their mini worlds, and begin to develop foundational understanding of habitats and diversity.

Links to Understanding the world

  • Frequency and range of experiences increases children’s knowledge and sense of the world around them.
  • Making sense of the physical world.
  • Using observation to learn about the natural world.
  • Developing understanding of ecological diversity.
  • Enriching and widening vocabulary.
  • Using and creating simple maps.

Links to other areas of the EYFS

  • This activity provides opportunities for interactions and back and forth exchanges encouraging use of new vocabulary and speaking.
  • Using print to communicate meaning.
  • Expressing thoughts and ideas in a variety of ways.
  • Opportunities to use fiction and non-fiction texts to support understanding.

Starting points

You will need:

  • Access to an outdoor area.
  • Map-making materials and paper, clipboards or large surfaces at ground level to write on.
  • Magnifying glass (optional).
  • Insect guide or information sheet (optional).

Activity idea: ‘Minibeast mapping’

As a group, name all the minibeasts you know such as spiders, snails, worms, ladybirds, butterflies, beetles, bees, wasps, ants.

Discuss which ones might live in the school grounds or outdoor area. How do we know? 

Do the children already know any locations where minibeasts live in the school grounds? How do they know?

Children might suggest places such as a spider’s web on a fence, under logs in an outdoor area or worms in the digging area.

As these places are suggested, draw an outline of your school grounds or outdoor area on a large sheet of paper or whiteboard and add to this simple ‘map’ as you share ideas.

Show the children that you are making a minibeast habitat map. This is important information so that you can ensure these spaces are protected as minibeast habitats.

Take small groups of children outside and follow the class map to find minibeasts, but also find some new areas which are yet to be recorded. Provide the children with the same simple outline map and challenge children to create their own minibeast map by marking on the map where they have observed minibeasts and labelling their map to show what they have found.

Support the children to make their map clearer to use:

  • How could you make the map easier to look at?
  • Do you need to choose an appropriate colour to show features such as grass or water?
  • Which way up does your map need to be used? How could you show this?

In smaller groups, children can develop this further and observe where a minibeast might move over time; for example, watching a ladybird on a window or a butterfly moving around the garden. Encourage children to make micro-maps, showing the paths of minibeasts to record what they have observed.

As a class, you can compare the maps to see:

  • Which areas are most populated by mini-beasts, and why?
  • Which minibeasts move around the most and where did they go?
  • Which minibeasts are harder to map and why?

How to make this successful

  • Children will have varying experiences of observing and interacting with wildlife. You will need to discuss some approaches, such as caring for living creatures and habitats.
  • Model map-making as a shared activity before asking children to do this independently.
  • If using equipment such as clipboards or magnifying lenses, these will need modelling to the children before independent use.
  • Consider whether some children might benefit from pre-teaching of knowledge such as minibeast types, to support them to access this activity.

Ideas to build on knowledge

  • Encourage ongoing observation and recording skills by creating places to watch wildlife and having resources easily available.
  • Display a map of the outdoor area in your classroom and refer to it often, such as when explaining how the provision is set up today.
  • Include minibeast spotter guides in your book area, or have posters available all year for children to explore.

This Teaching Resource was written for the Geographical Association by Sarah Sprake.

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