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Woodlice Habitat Box

Target Audience:

Key Stage 1 / Lower Key Stage 2

Link to the National Curriculum:

Sc2. Life processes and Living things

Children should:

“identify that most living things live in habitats to which they are suited and describe how different habitats provide for the basic needs of different kinds of animals and plants and how they depend on each other”.( NC. Yr 2 programme of study for Living things and their habitats)


  • To enable children to understand that all creatures require different habitats to enable them to live and thrive.

Download worksheet

What you need:

  • Shoe box,
  • black / white lining paper,
  • craft knife*,
  • magnifiers
  • group of live woodlice and associated rotting leaves and wood bark ( after use to be returned carefully to their natural environment)

* Adults only to use craft knives.

What you do

  • Watch the video clip “woodlice habitat box” on the website
  • Line the light area of the box with white paper and the dark area with black paper to provide an extra incentive for the woodlice to secrete themselves in the dark area.
  • Additionally inside the dark area there should be placed damp detritus (rotting wood bark/leaves) from the area where the woodlice were discovered.

How it works

  • The chosen habitat of woodlice is a dark damp environment because they easily lose moisture from their bodies and in order to survive they need this moisture.

Group / Class Organisation

  • Depending on the adult supervision, the number of shoe box habitats available and the number of woodlice the children should be split into groups of three or four to observe the woodlice once placed into the light area of the box, over a five minute time slot.
  • Children should also be given individual observation sheets charged with the responsibility of observing what occurs with the additional opportunity of making first hand drawings of the woodlice once the observation period has expired. Hand held magnifiers would be useful for this purpose.

Preliminary activity

  • Most schools either have an area within the school grounds set aside for mini-beast hunting or have access to such areas outside the school environment and it is important that they are given such opportunities to undertake a number of visits to familiarise themselves with identification of such creatures they are likely to find.

Follow up work

  • This would take the form of class or group discussions after the practical investigation concludes to consolidate their understanding of where woodlice prefer to live. The completion of the woodlice observation sheet should be used as a basis for this consolidation.

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