Melanie Elderton, Educational Leader, Explore & Develop Annandale, Bulletin 5/2022, July 2022

Last year, courtesy of a grant from the Glebe Society, we invested in several new invertebrates for our classroom to further support our science inquiry curriculum.

The consultation with Karen Player from Australian Environmental Education has led to the order for an additional number of invertebrates to complement the stick insects we already had in the classroom. Karen visited our students where she brought in the mini beasts and introduced us to each of our new invertebrates. The pieces of information about their habitat and food needs have supported the children and educators in establishing a habitat suitable for the invertebrates.

The children were excited to assist Karen with the initial set-up of the upgraded invertebrates; helping to transfer the mini beasts into their new home. We learnt that they like acacia (wattle) and lilli pilli leaves, in addition to the eucalyptus leaves we had been feeding our stickies. Having Karen share her knowledge was valuable to expanding our understanding of these animals.

Since then, the permanent presence of these invertebrates has led to ongoing opportunities for scientific inquiry. The ecosystem has inspired lots of engagement and investigation amongst children of all ages. The habitat has allowed us to observe the decomposition cycle and witness the different animals’ roles in this ecosystem.

The animals in the ecosystem were quickly adopted into the school menagerie. Interest has extended from exploring these animals’ needs and daily care to a desire to better understand the animals with which we share our immediate outdoor and local excursion environments.

The invertebrates’ role in our community was highlighted when the 2021 preschoolers included the animals’ presence in their design for a school flag. A burrowing cockroach, snail, and stick insect are all represented in the published design for our school flag, which now flies proudly at our ‘Little School on the Roof’.