Reminding kids from 1-100 how to have fun together
Hey, Little Ant Funstructions
I love sharing good books with kids so my ideas often start off with a book and then you can make the book come alive for them with fun activities. You can check the book(s) out at the library or buy the books in advance so your child will have them to add to their personal library.
Ants fascinate all kids and they are everywhere! Start with the book, Hey, Little Antby Phillip and Hannah Hoose. If your child is not a reader yet, read the book to them using 2 voices (one as the boy and one as the ant). If your child can read, let them choose the part they would like to play and you read one part and let them read the other. The story is written in rhyme so it’s fun to read aloud. The book is open ended, letting the reader decide what should happen, “Should the ant get squished? Should the ant go free? It’s up to the kid, not up to me. We’ll leave the kid with the raised-up shoe. What do you think the kid should do?” There’s a fun song in the back of the book that uses the rhyme of the text. If you can play the basic tune on the piano, it’s fun to sing. Otherwise, just enjoy the book! When you read the book a second or third time. Read the first part of the rhyme and see if your child can finish it. “Hey little ant down in the crack, can you hear me? Can you talk _____? “ Can they think of other ways that line could end. Working on rhyming words is fun and a great reading skill. After reading the book, you are ready for a fun day or weekend exploring the world of ants. The first thing I would do, is take a magnifying glass (for looking, not burning) outside and find an ant hill. Observe the ants and see how much you can learn about them just by observing. For young children, give them a clipboard and a pencil for sketching. Help by writing down what they observe. For older children, have them record what they see. in a small notebook and encourage them to sketch as well. Hopefully they notice things like how many body parts ants have, number of legs, what section of the body the legs are attached to, and antennae. Have them draw an ant from what they see. What kind of activities are the ants doing? This would be a fun time to have a picnic in the yard and discuss what you saw. Do any ants join you? See the picnic activities below! By now your child is probably asking a lot of questions about ants so it’s time to move to nonfiction. I’d recommend the book Ant Cities by Arthur Durros (a Reading Rainbow selection). This will give you and your child the basic ant facts and give them a good look at the ant cities that lay beneath your sidewalks and yard. Another great resource is Are You an Ant by Tudor Humphries.
Now for some activities!
Busy Ant Headband To help young children get into the act - make a headband out of a strip of paper and let them add two pipe cleaner antenna. Let them shape the antenna any way they like and then tape them inside the headband. You can write on the headband something like “ busy ant Mike”. Now they are an honorary ant for the day.
Ant furniture and toys In the book the ants make a table out of a bottle cap, a bed out of leaves and sticks, Collect some small items (maybe from recycling) from around the house and see what ant uses they can create for the items.
Ant Artwork For this art activity you’ll need a piece of drawing paper, a brown crayon or brown paint on a paper plate and a sponge (2x2 inch piece of sponge), a pencil with an eraser, and an ink stamp pad. Have your child draw some ant tunnels on the paper with the pencil. Then they can color the area around the tunnels brown by either peeling the paper off the crayon and with the side coloring in the “dirt” area or by dipping the damp sponge lightly in the brown paint and dabbing it lightly on the paper to fill in the “dirt”. If their sponge has too much paint (you don’t see the sponge pattern), have them dab the sponge on the plate or another piece of paper first and then on their ant tunnels. They can dab it several times until it runs out of paint. Once they’ve finished this part, just the tunnels should be left. In the tunnels they can “stamp” their ants by pressing the pencil eraser on the stamp pad and stamping 3 circle body parts of their ant ont he paper (be sure the circles touch each other). Then they can add antennae and legs to their ants. They should stamp many ants throughout their tunnels. They can even make up stores of what the ants are doing in the tunnels. Hopefully they have fun with this part and some of their ants are doing crazy things like having a party, a picnic or taking a shower! Blending the real and fantasy is half the fun!
Egg carton Ant For this activity you’ll need 3 sections of an cardboard egg carton, glue (Aileene’s tacky glue in the gold bottle works best for crafts), brown, red, or black paint, a paint brush, pipe cleaners,a black marker (mouth) and wiggly eyes.
Picnic It’s always fun to cook and eat together. Consider making some of these for your picnic!
Ants on a log You’ll need celery or a pretzel rod, peanut butter and raisins. Spread the peanut butter in the middle of the celery stick or on top of the pretzel rod and top with raisins (your ants).
Ants in the sand cupcakes Make your favorite kind of cupcakes. Mix some chocolate sprinkles (ants) in the batter. Crush some graham crackers in a baggie (sand) and add some chocolate sprinkles (ants). After frosting the cupcakes, pour the graham cracker crumbs and sprinkles onto a paper plate. Dip the frosting side of the cupcake into the sand and ants. Enjoy!
Ants at a Picnic Have your child gather the ingredients for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (they can make their lunch while in the kitchen). Divide a paper plate into 3 pie shaped
sections with a marker. Label each section and place the bread crumbs, a dab of jelly and a dab of peanut butter on each section. Make predictions as to what food you think the ants will like best. Put the plate out in the yard and sit in a chair to watch what happens (they can enjoy their sandwich while waiting). How long before an ant shows up? What happens after the first ant arrives? Are they attracted to all the foods or one particular one? Did you guess right?
Ant-Sized Tea Party Throw a tea party for the ants. Break off a tiny piece of white bread and roll it between your fingers until the bread forms a tiny snake. Coil the snake into a bun, dip it briefly in water, place it on the leaf, and dust it with a few grains of white sugar. Place the leaf on a stone in the garden and watch what happens! You could have a tea party nearby while you watch.
If your child is really interested in observing ants, you might consider buying an ant farm for him/her like this one from Amazon (right).
Ant Riddles Why was the baby ant so confused? All his uncles were ants What do you call a 100 year old ant? An antique. Why don’t anteaters get sick? Because they are full of antibodies. What is the biggest ant in the world? An elephant. What kind of ant is good at math? An accountant.
Other fun Ant books to share:
Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg - In this tale of two runaway ants, there is a visual puzzle to solve identifying common household appliances from an ant’s point of view.
One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elenor Pinczes - fun ant math book as one of the ants tries to rearrange the ants in rows to get them to the picnic faster
Find Anthony Ant by Lorna Philpot and Graham Philpot - in this book you search for Anthony Ant in underground mazes while counting and enjoying rhyme.
As a teacher for 30 years my expertise is in early childhood development, reading, and a masters in reading instruction but my passion is about teaching parents, grandparents, teachers, and anyone else how to have fun with the kids in their life and remember what it's like to be immersed in another world.