Building Vocabulary Through Word Hunt, Illustration, and Display

By Ruth Manna on October 20, 2010
  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5

Here’s an idea for vocabulary development for 2nd and 3rd graders using Horrible H

Here’s an idea for vocabulary development for 2nd and 3rd graders using Horrible Harry and the Ant Invasion by Suzy Kline. Characters in this book gave my reading group students the inspiration to try this activity.

Drawing: "Antitoxin"


Horrible harry and the ant invasion
          Our Inspiration

Finding Words With ANT — First students brainstormed words with ant in the beginning, middle, or end. Students started with dictionaries and the letter A. They learned the meaning of the prefixes ant and anti. Once students exhausted words that started with A they moved on to words with ant in the middle and end. Students found words like can’t, deodorant, brilliant, anthem, antonym, and rant. They learned that a word may sound as though it ends in ant when it really ends in ent, as with detergent 

  Ant Words on Wall 1
                     Part of Our Display

Illustrating Words — Students selected words to illustrate on brown construction paper with pencils, Sharpies, markers, and crayons. Each illustration featured an ant as a character.

  Ant Words on Wall 3

Making a Display — We decided to put up our ant illustrations in the hallway. Students and staff saw what the 2nd graders were doing and suggested more words. Our display began to grow. We added ant tunnels and ants to the display and put up tunnels so ants crawled across the ceiling and down the hall.

Students showed an amazing level of engagement and motivation for this vocabulary activity. They asked their parents and older brothers and sisters to suggest words. They took dictionaries out to recess and sat at a picnic table eagerly looking up new words.

After about two to three weeks we moved on to other activities, but we left our ant words up and continued to add to our display.

More Ideas for Horrible Harry and the Ant Invasion Activities

Antworks close-up

    Ants Tunneling Through Gel

AntWorks — AntWorks is a space age ant farm in which ants get all their nutrients from the gel they tunnel through. AntWorks ant farm creators got their product idea from a 2003 NASA experiment. Scientists wanted to see if ants would tunnel in microgravity. Due to the lack of gravity in space, scientists used gel instead of soil. 

When our mail order ants arrived, students put them in a refrigerator to slow them down, just as Horrible Harry’s class did. Our ants lived for three to four weeks. Students observed our ant colony every day and recorded their observations.

Suzy Kline

Author Suzy Kline

Horrible Harry and the Ant Invasion Comprehension Quizzes

To test their Horrible Harry knowledge, students may take these five teacher-made comprehension quizzes on a computer. Each of the quizzes focuses on a different range of pages and feature multiple choice and short answer questions.


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