Looking for minibeasts? The FSC Woodland name trail is a great introduction to the animals of soil and leaf litter.
It features clear colour paintings of the most common groups of animals, from those with no legs (like snails, slugs, earthworms and roundworms) to insects, spiders and crustaceans with jointed legs (like beetles, centipedes, woodlice and mites). Use the trail’s straightfoward yes/no questions to find out the names. A concise Fact File on the reverse side describes what to look for in each group.
Most gardens, parks and school grounds have patches of bare soil, dead leaves and short grass. You can find minibeasts in all these places just by going out and looking. Or you can make a pitfall trap to leave out overnight. Lift logs, pots and stones to see what animals are sheltering underneath. You might find earthworms, centipedes or millipedes. Look closely among short grass, like a lawn. You might find lob worms, especially after rain, and worm casts. Alternatively collect dead leaves and put them in a white tray, then wait a few moments for the animals to come out of hiding. You don’t need any special equipment to find these animals, although a hand lens or microscope is useful.
As well as animal classification, the Woodland name trail supports scientific investigations at KS2 into food chains and food webs. Children can use the Fact File to classify the animals they have found as herbivores, carnivores and detritivores. An example woodland food web is included, and children might even construct their own.