Summer after the SATs is an ideal time for pursuing the minibeast through park and playground.
An ingenious and well-designed contrivance for doing it is the Creature Peeper. This is a robust plastic viewing chamber, about 15 cm high, where small creatures can be kept and inspected before being released.
Two built-in lenses provide 3x magnification from above and below. It's also watertight, so tadpoles and sticklebacks can become residents as well as ladybirds, spiders and beetles. The enlarged images are sharp and the whole thing has a stable base so that young naturalists can draw, discuss or quietly observe their charges without risk of spilling or losing them.
If it's wet or everyone's too tired to go out, you can still use the computer. Butterflies, Bugs and other Beasties is an excellent CD-Rom for children aged six to 10. It contains a thorough and informative reference section, complete with pictures, films and text copying facilities, on dozens of tiny creatures from the devil's coach-horse to the wolf spider.
Another section gives advice on looking after them, reminding you how to keep woodlice from getting waterlogged and avoiding the smell of dead crickets. And lots of delightful games test your knowledge and your IT skills as you sing with grasshoppers, collect aphids and steer bees towards nectar-rich flowers.
Creature Peeper, Price: pound;5.99 From Insect Lore, PO Box 1420, Kiln Farm, MK19 6ZHTel: 01908 563338Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgButterflies, Bugs and other Beasties, pound;39.99 (incl. resource pack) from Spiny Software, POBox 2311, Cardiff CF23 5YXTel: 02920 495992Email: email@example.com www.spinysoft.co.uk