Mini-beast explorers

A one day programme for 3-5 year olds, introducing the little ones to a woodland environment and the mini beasts that live in it. 

This programme was deisgned by Wild Things to be complimentary to early years mini-beasts projects, by helping to give children some practical outdoors experience of a woodland habitat and the mini-beast residents.

The children explore the woodland and some of the mini-beast residents by following a trail left for them by Nell the Woodland Gnome.

the programme is designed to help children

  •  to learn to recognise mini-beast shapes, colour and movements
  • to identify different mini-beast habitats
  • to have fun exploring and investigating in the woods
  • to develop respect for the natural world through first hand contact


The children receive a letter from Nell a woodland gnome inviting them to the woods to meet her mini-beast friends. 

1. Arrival

The children are introduced to the day at the gnomes camp where they are given mini-beast badges to split them into groups. A note left by Nell sends them off on a trail of discovery, and tells them to look out for hidden parcels along their way...

2. Sticky Snails

The children follow a silver slime trail through the woods to find large sticky snails which they fill with colours and shapes collected from the natural materials around them.

3. Bug Hunting

With the help of magnifying glasses, bug pots and white sheets, the children become bug detectives and spend time in small groups exploring bug habitats and looking more closely at mini-beasts which they find.

4. Bird & Bug Hide and Seek

This game is designed to look at the part which mini-beasts play in a food chain.

5. Mini-Beast Trail

It is time for lunch. The children follow a silhouette trail of well known mini-beasts and are asked to identify them along the way to their picnic site.

6. Bug Kitchens

Each group is asked to make lunch for their new mini-beast friends. The children are provided with a mud kitchen set up and encouraged to enjoy some free messy play time digging the ground, mixing materials and thinking about what mini-beasts might like to eat. With whisks, sieves, cupcake holders, oven trays and a woodland tea bar, the results are bound to please their bug friends!

7. Story Time

Puppets and a big story leaf are used to tell the story of Speedy the snail and his friends.

8. Habitat Building

Each group is given a soft toy version of some of the mini-beasts they may have met earlier in the day and asked to work in small groups to build a home for it. This encourages the children to think about different mini-beast habitats and their needs.

9. Departure

The children are led back to the camp. Throughout the day the children have come across hidden parcels left behind by Nell the Gnome. These parcels are now unwrapped to reveal a series of mini-beast models. The last challenge is to identify these mini-beasts and place them in the correct habitat on the woodland banner. The children all receive mini-beast explorer certificates before they go home.