Lots of children are fascinated by insects and small animals. This is a great activity for developing respect and understanding of the natural world.


  • Large bricks, logs, rocks 
  • Twigs, stones, leaves, bamboo, pinecones


First, you and your child need to find something that you can use for the floor and walls of the hotel. This could be some large bricks or cinder blocks, or perhaps a couple of larger branches, logs or rocks. 

Find a place in your garden that is well shaded to create the foundations of the hotel. Ask your child to make the decisions about which materials to use and where they should be placed (though you may need to carry the heavier items, such as bricks or branches) to create the structure of your hotel. Section off different rooms. Once your child is satisfied with the layout, it’s time to start hunting for resources for furnishing the hotel, such as twigs, pinecones, seed pods, bamboo off-cuts, as well as leaves and other garden waste. Having collected a good haul of resources, take them to your bug hotel and begin to fill the rooms. 

The idea is to create spaces that insects and other small animals would love to live in, or under. We don’t want to relocate the bugs from their natural habitat but instead create a space that they would like to make their home in the future. When you are filling the rooms, think about creating spaces and holes for the insects to crawl into as well as adding leaves and moss that will create a dark, damp home for certain insect guests. 

Keep checking in on the hotel over the following days and weeks to see what sort of bugs have taken up residence.


  • Encourages an awareness and empathy for the environment around us
  • Communication and problem-solving skills as you work together to design and build the hotel
  • Over time you may observe different small animals cohabiting in the hotel – this is the beginning of the study of ecology


  • Take it one step further by researching the habits of insects and other small animals that you want to encourage to live in your hotel
  • Take a trip to your local library and have a look for some books on insects and their natural environment
  • Remind your child that, ideally, we do not want to remove insects from their natural habitat. The purpose of building a hotel is to create another ideal environment/ habitat that would encourage more insects to move into your garden
  • Your child may wish to create a sign that welcomes insects to the hotel

Learn more about nature play and the opportunities it provides children to explore and learn more about the world around them.