Problem Solvers

Design a bug hotel

Design a bug hotel

A creative construction task which asks your class to make a bug hotel using a range of different materials.

Activity overview

30 mins+
Ages 9 – 11

Science topics:

Living things and their habitats

You will need:

A range of materials, such as moss, dry leaves, straw, woodchips, bark, pine cones, hollow bamboo canes or plastic straws, terracotta plant pots, plastic bottles, slate or terracotta tiles, roofing felt, cardboard boxes, string. 

Sometimes you have to solve a problem on the spot. Explain that today the class will need to make a bug hotel using just the materials provided. 

Run the activity

1. Explain that they will have 20 minutes to look at the materials and come up with a design for a bug hotel. It should provide lots of warm and damp (but not wet) hiding places for different bugs.

2. After 20 minutes, swap creations with another group. Continue working but this time on their creation. How can you improve it?

3. After 10 more minutes, survey the final creations. What have they learned from swapping projects? 

Background science

By building a bug hotel you are providing a habitat for many different types of bugs, all of which have a vital role to play. You could expect to see lots of different kinds of insects and minibeasts staying at your bug hotel including bees and butterflies, lacewings and ladybirds, woodlice and wasps and even hedgehogs and toads. You might see birds coming to visit to look for some food, too.  

It’s important to try and support the sorts of inhabitants that would benefit from the insect hotel, for example pollinating insects, like bees and butterflies, help plants to reproduce. Other insects help keep pest numbers down. For example, ladybirds feed on aphids. Bugs are also food for many animals such as hedgehogs, birds and frogs.

Take it further

Make the activity more challenging and ask the pupils to design places in their hotel for different bugs e.g. woodlice, spiders, solitary bees by thinking about what they would need in a home. For example, solitary bees live inside small holes and tubes.

You could even decide on the best parts of each design to collaborate and build a bug hotel that can be placed in the school grounds. More information on how to build a bug hotel can be found on this BBC webpage.