Summer Nature Activity: All About Ants
Here's a "tempting way" for children to observe ants and their habitats.
- Grades: PreK–K
SKILLS: Children will engage in a study about ants to develop science skills. They will learn to make predictions, gather information, and form conclusions.
- chart paper
- several magnifying glasses
- cardboard scraps
1 Engage children in a discussion about ants. On chart paper, write the heading What do we think ants eat? Ask children to think about the different types of foods ants might like to eat. Encourage children to think of foods that might be found outdoors in addition to the foods they eat. Will ants be attracted to sweet foods or sour foods? Record children's responses.
2 Explain to children that you would like them to be scientists and find out what types of foods ants will eat and what types of foods they will not eat. Assist children in choosing several of their predictions to test outdoors. Make a list of the food items they will be testing.
3 Gather together the different food items and place them on small pieces of cardboard. Find an area outdoors that will not interfere with children's play space and place the food items there in the morning.
4 Plan a visit outdoors after lunch or nap time to see if the ants have come. Provide children with magreifying glasses for a closer look at the ants. If the ants did not come, wait until the next morning to continue the study.
5 Use a camera to record the ant study. Assist the children in photographing the food items, including the items that did not attract ants. Encourage children to discuss what they notice about the ants as they observe them through the magnifying glasses. What color are the ants? How do they move? What do their body parts look like?
6 Gather children together and help them to draw conclusions about their ant study. What foods did the ants eat? What foods did they not eat? What did they learn about ants? Create a wall exhibit to document the process of the children's ant study.
For younger children: If possible, provide an ant farm in the classroom so that children observe and explore the work and habits of ants in ant colonies.
For older children: Continue your study of insects by having children explore the habits of butterflies, worms, and other insects in your environment.
Ask children to think about how many body segments and how many legs ants have. Encourage them to gather this information from books as well as photographs and observations from their study. Provide children with cardboard egg cartons, pipe cleaners, and a variety of paint. Invite children to use the materials to create ants. Follow up the activity with dictated stories from them about the ants they studied. Include children's ants and stories with the wall exhibit.