Classifying Minibeasts

During Classifying Minibeasts, pupils will be introduced to classification through the fascinating world of invertebrates. Using costumes the class will observe the body features of a selection of invertebrates and use a key to identify them and assign them to a group. In small teams, the pupils will then work independently to sort pictures and real invertebrate specimens into groups using the same key, and at the end they will also have the opportunity to meet and learn about some live invertebrate animals.

Age group:  Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 (KS2, Ages 7–11)

Duration: 45 minutes

Capacity: 35 pupils

Learning Space: Education Centre (map ref I2)


National Curriculum links:


KS2 Science

Lower key stage 2 (Years 3 and 4) programme of study (2014)

Working scientifically

  • gathering, recording, classifying and presenting data in a variety of ways to help in answering questions
  • recording findings using simple scientific language, drawings, labelled diagrams, keys, bar charts, and tables
  • using straightforward scientific evidence to answer questions or to support their findings

Year 4 programme of study (2014)

Living things and their habitats

Pupils should be taught to:

  • recognise that living things can be grouped in a variety of ways
  • explore and use classification keys to help group, identify and name a variety of living things in their local and wider environment

Year 6 programme of study (2014)

Living things and their habitats

Pupils should be taught to:

  • describe how living things are classified into broad groups according to common observable characteristics and based on similarities and differences, including micro-organisms, plants and animals
  • give reasons for classifying plants and animals based on specific characteristics


Intended learning outcomes:

Pupils will be able to:

  • Identify some of the key features of invertebrates
  • Use a simple key to identify pictures of invertebrates and live minibeasts, and assign them to groups
  • Gain an understanding of the terms insect, arachnid, mollusc, myriapod and crustacea

The objects from the natural world that are used in this session are loaned to us by HM Revenue and Customs. Please be aware that though we aim to use a live animal in this session, we do not guarantee that they will be present – animals can fall ill or be unwilling to be handled and their welfare is ZSL’s first priority.


For this session:


Before your visit:


While at the Zoo:

  • Use the Zoo Challenge worksheet to encourage your pupils to look more carefully at the animals in the Zoo: KS2 general visit Zoo worksheet (119.89 KB)
  • Various invertebrates can be found in B.U.G.S! (map ref.C7), the Aquarium (map ref. H4), the Rainforest Life (map ref. E2) and Butterfly Paradise (map ref. C5).
  • The table below will help you find your way around the invertebrates in the Zoo:


Animal group

Location (map ref.)

Butterflies and moths


Butterfly paradise (C5)

Red-kneed spider


B.U.G.S! (C7)

Leaf-cutter ants


B.U.G.S! (C7)

Apple snails


Rainforest Life (E2)

Sea anemone and coral


Aquarium (H4)


After your visit:

  • Play a game of 20 questions as a class or in pairs, where the children have to guess the London Zoo animal by asking questions about its features. Pupils are only allowed to ask questions that can be answered with yes or no, such as ‘Does it have wings?’