Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by Leeds Museums and Galleries | The Discovery Centre


A whole host of animals make wonderful things, from nests and cocoons to tools and music. Making things can help animals and their eggs and babies stay safe from predators and bad weather, and can help them attract mates or catch food.

The things that animals make are good examples of how animals’ behaviour evolves, as well as animals’ bodies, increasing their chances of their genes surviving into the next generation.


Curriculum Links

Key Stage 2 Science: Living things and their habitats

Key Stage 2 Design and Technology: Design, Make.

Key Stage 3 Science: Interactions and Interdependencies


Activity Ideas


  • Find out about different animal homes. Think about what materials they were built with, and how. Why were these materials chosen? What are their properties?
  • Look at the building techniques used by different animals, and find comparisons in human building and making. Don’t forget to think about people in other places and times.
  • Try making your own paper out of waste paper. The processes involved will help you understand how wasps build their nests.
  • Work as a team to build a huge nest in your playground/school field. Collect different materials, and see how strong/comfy your nest becomes. Will it be weather-proof?!
  • Drilling holes in concrete fence posts or bricks gives solitary insects safe places to build their homes. Even tiny holes in bricks or mortar may get made into homes. You can collect materials and download instructions to make a bug hotel, to see what insects you can attract. 


  • Look at different armour made by animals, and compare them to different types of armour made by humans. Has any human armour been inspired by animals? Or even uses animals as materials?
  • You can also compare the defensive structures of animals’ homes with humans’ building defences. For instance, Trapdoor Spiders use trip wires and hatches!


  • Look for evidence of animals feeding around your school, or around your garden or nearby wood or park. Look out for cones eaten by squirrels, nuts eaten by mice and voles, spiders’ webs, owl pellets, and don’t forget poos! Can you use the data gathered to find out more about the biodiversity of your area?
  • If you have a mature tree in your school grounds (or garden etc), do a biodiversity survey on it.
    • What animals feed on the oak?
    • Can you see any galls?
    • Watch the tree to see which birds shelter in it. Can you make a food web of the animals you see?
  • How have was as humans made feeding easier for ourselves?
    • What different eating tools have been used throughout history?
    • What tools are used today in different cultures?


  • Use animal sounds and song as inspiration for your own musical composition. Think about which animals make percussive sounds, and those that sing tunes. 


Discussion Ideas

  • Think about which animal sounds we can recognise. Which are your favourites? How do they make us feel? Can you imagine a world without animal music in?