Minibeasts and Creepy Crawlies Week

Period: 30 March - 5 April 2020

We’re going to find out about Arthropods, take a very close-up look at spiders, build our own friendly mini-beast trap, discover how strong an ant actually is and also enjoy a brilliant but beastly game - one the whole family can enjoy.

Come on a journey of discovery about mini beasts and other creepy crawlies some of them quite close to home and others from far far away.

Take your time to watch the videos and get involved by taking photos and drawing pictures which you can share on the web site and you might even win a prize.

Trigger Warning: If you do not like spiders or creepy crawlies, please come back again on Wednesday for a fun, family friendly game!



What are Arthropods?

Arthropods include insects, spiders, crabs, centipedes and many many more - in fact there's one million arthropod species on earth!

There are 4 major types of arthropods - let's find out about them.

Watch our Arthropods Video below and then answer questions on the Arthropods Worksheet (PDF). This can be printed out, or you can copy your own version onto some blank paper.


Now we are going to look a little closer at one of these types of arthropods, the Arachnids.

Watch our video about the Goliath Bird-eating Spider.

Goliath Bird-Eating Spider

It's difficult to get a close view of the fangs in our video, so take a closer look at Goliath Bird-eating Spider Fangs.

Use the information in the videos to answer the Spider Anatomy Worksheet (PDF) - remember you don't have to print it out, you can draw your own!

You can then check your answers, Spider Anatomy Worksheet (Answers) (PDF).

Want to see how a Goliath Bird-eating Spider behaves in the wild? Watch this short clip with Steve Backnell from YouTube.

Goliath Bird-eating Spider

Some Things to Think About...

Remember to come back tomorrow when we are going to take a closer look at spider webs. We'll be asking you to find spiders and spider webs in your house and garden - so remember NO dusting between now and then!

In the mean time here are some things to think about...

  • Why are spider webs called cobwebs?
  • Do all spider webs look the same?
  • How does a spider know how to build a web? Spider School?
  • What does a spider web do?

See you back here tomorrow!

What Can You Find in Your Garden or House?

You won't find a Goliath Bird-eating spider in your house or garden in Dundee, but it's time to find out what is there!

Photograph any spiders you find and use this link from the Natural History Museum's Take Part section looking at Spiders in Your Home with a downloadable guide (PDF) to help you identify them.

We would also love you to find, and photograph, spider webs as our next task is all about the architecture of the spider web.

Spider Webs

Some find them terrifying and some find them annoying, especially when you've just dusted and you look up and discover yet another one on the light shade in your room, they are often called cobwebs and they are always used at halloween to make everything spooky and creepy... however, here at the Dundee Science Centre we love spider webs and today we are going to have a closer look at why they are incredible feats of architecture.

Some spiderweb facts,

  • Spiders make their webs from silk, a natural fibre made of protein.
  • Spiders have structures called spinnerets on their abdomen, these are silk-spinning organs.
  • Often spiders use their web for trapping prey.
  • Most spiders use silk to wrap their eggs.
  • British spider webs can be grouped into seven broad types based on their architecture: orb, sheet, tangle, funnel, lace, radial and purse.

Spider webs can look very different between different kinds of spider families and today we are going to take a closer look at the architecture of the Garden Orb Weaving Spider web. You will have seen many of these webs in the past, but just to remind you have a look at the Natural History Museums web site.

Building a spider web is a tricky business, and we'll find out how tricky now when we draw one!

Watch this video clip from BBC Earth on YouTube (below) to see a spider web building time lapse.

Spider Web Builder Time Lapse Video

This short YouTube video (below) shows a very clear view of the process.

Spider Spinning Its Web

The process of building a spider web can be broken down into 7 stages as shown, very simply, in this sequence below.

Formation of a Spider's Web

Now you can answer the worksheet A Closer Look at a Spider Web (PDF).

You can then check your answers, A Closer Look at a Spider Web Worksheet (Answers) (PDF).

And it's time for you to Draw Your Own Spider Web remember to look back at the spider webs you found to see if you can spot all the different threads you've just been finding out about!

Some answers...

  • Spider webs are called cobwebs because the old English word for spider was coppe. Turns out that cobwebs are only produced by Theridiidae (cobweb spiders) and Linyphiidae (money spiders) - all others should be just known as spider webs.
  • Spider webs do not all look the same, there are orb, sheet, tangle, funnel, lace, radial and purse.
  • Hmmm how do spiders know how to build a web? We would love to hear some ideas from you!

We would love to see photos of any spiders and spider webs you have found in your house and garden, as well as any art work you produce during this week - remember to send them in!

Use the Competition of the Week link to upload any work.

Come back tomorrow for a fun, but beastly, game for all the family!

Beastie Drive

Today it's time for some fun for all the family with a Beastie Drive!

For this game you need a dice - if you haven't got one, don't worry you can print out this Make Your Own Dice Template and make your own. You can also print out the Beastie Drive Worksheet, but don't worry if you can't - all you need is some paper to draw your Beasties on!


  • Start with the youngest player - roll the dice. You can't start drawing until you roll a 6 and have a body. Take turns around the table.
  • You can't draw eyes or antennae until you roll a 5 and have a head.
  • The first person to complete the beastie drawing shouts "BEASTIE" and scores a maximum or 14 points (1 point for each of the 14 body parts). Everyone else counts up their score, 1 point for each body part drawn.
    • 1 Body
    • 1 Head
    • 2 Eyes
    • 2 Antennae
    • 2 Wings
    • 6 Legs
  • The overall winner is the person with the highest score after all the games.
  • Be creative! Your beastie needs to have all 14 body parts, but you can make your beastie as pretty, or scary, or funny as you like!

We're looking forward to seeing photo's of you playing your Beastie Drive and seeing some photo's of your fun Beastie art!

Make your own dice
Beastie Drive Print Out

Make Your Own Pitfall Trap

We have already had a look at spiders, but today we are going to find out what else is in your garden by carefully catching some interesting and friendly creepy crawlies.

Our short video clip below talks you through the process of making your own Pitfall Trap and explains how it will work.

Minibeasts - Make Your Own Pitfall Trap

This worksheet will remind you of all the steps explained in the video, Pitfall Trap Worksheet (PDF).

We are going to remind you to check back again very soon and we'll investigate what you have found!

The Ceratopogonidea - Scotland's Deadliest Predator!

Scottish Midgie close-up

Have you ever met a Ceratopogonidea?

As you'll discover in a minute, this is a very big word for a very teeny tiny wee beastie! Find out how to say Ceratopogonidea and impress all your family!

If you live in Scotland we're sure you definitely have met this beastie before - but you know this arthropod by another name, the 'Scottish Midgie'.

Challenge of the Day - Watch the video below without itching!

Giant Swam of Midges

Today we want you to find out all about this dreaded wee beastie, but not by googling - instead we want you to ask your parents, phone or message your grandparents, aunties, uncles, or anyone who has had experience of dealing with the Scottish Midgie.

Using the information you are told we would like you to draw a picture of what you think this wee arthropod looks like close-up.

Might he have fangs and a kilt?

We can't wait to see!


Let's Find Out About Ants!

What is the biggest ant in the world? Hint... The Elephant

Wait, no, whoops - that's definitely not a scientific fact!

Let's find out some actual ant facts;

  • One of the types of mini beasts you can find in your home or garden
  • They are small insects
  • They have survived on earth for more than 100 million years
  • There are around 1 million ants for every human in the world
  • There are about 12,000 species of ants in the world - 50 different species are found in the UK
  • Some insects live only days or even hours, but the queen ant can live up to 30 years!
  • Ants can be found on every single continent except Antartica - Ironic, when you look at the name
  • Ants live in colonies with 15,000 other worker ants

This BBC Earth clip on YouTube (below) shows a very detailed look at how Leaf-cutter ants cut and carry leaves.

Leaf Cutter Ants

We can also look at these happy Leaf-cutter ants going about their business in this video clip from St Andrews Aquarium in Scotland.

Leaf Cutter Ants At A Zoo

These little insects are very impressive in many ways - let's have a look at the How Strong is an Ant Worksheet (PDF) to find out more about how strong they actually are.

10. Draw Your Own Ant - Make Your Own Ant

A fun little activity to finish off the week.

Have a go at drawing your own ants - we've created a time-lapse video (below) to give you some guidance.

How To Draw An Ant

You might also enjoy making your own ant so we have a Make Your Own Ant Worksheet (PDF) to explain the steps, you'll need to find a cardboard egg carton for this one!

Remember to let us see everything you've been doing during our Creepy Crawlies week.

Also see our other Home Learning Topics information and our Learning Resources.

If you have enjoyed these activities please share them with your friends and family.