Usually I do all I can do to keep ants from entering my house, but this month I actually paid for ants to live with us for awhile. Since we’ve been studying about farms, I thought it would be fun to have an ant farm in the house for observation. I wanted to allow my preschoolers to see up-close how amazing ants can be. So we did a little ant farm nature unit study.
Ant Farm Nature Unit Study
This is the second time we’ve done an ant farm unit study and I highly recommend the Fascinations AntWorks Illuminated Blue Ant Farm (afflink). It is so cool to see them tunneling through gel!
At the same time I ordered the farm, I ordered the ants (afflink), because I thought they’d arrive on the same day. It’s no fun to get the ant farm and then have to wait for the ants! My ants arrived in a small package and my ant farm hadn’t even shipped yet! Thankfully, my Facebook friends helped me come up with a Plan B: a mason jar and damp sand. Our ants lived in that habitat over the weekend. When our ant farm arrived, we transferred the ants to the new habitat (that’s why you can see grains of sand in the picture.)
This particular ant farm consists of a special gel that doubles as ant food. The ants are just starting to tunnel in this picture. It was fascinating to watch.
Not only did my preschoolers love to watch, but everyone else in the family too. There was always a chair pulled up to the table to see how far the ants had tunneled for that day. We saw how hard the ants were working! This reminded me of a Bible verse:
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
7 It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.
Proverbs 6: 6-8
This naturally brought up the topic of diligence. We could see how diligent the ants were working. We could also see that the ants were cooperating together. We pulled out our We Choose Virtue cards and worked on “I am Diligent” for a couple of weeks. If you haven’t seen these cards, they are available as faith-based or community cards. The cards contain adorable, cartoon kids paired with a special “catch-phrase” to learn about the virtue.
I placed a small jar which held several magnifying glasses so that the children could observe details on the ants. Our ants were harvester ants. It was easy to see the mandible, count legs, and count the ant body parts. One thing we wondered was if the ants had a tunnel plan or if they just started tunneling and wherever it went, it went?
One of the ant books we read while observing ants was Are You An Ant? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries (afflink). The book taught about ants in a way that captured the attention of my preschoolers. They asked to read this book over and over again, and I often found them looking at the pictures.
After two weeks, our ant farm looked like this. Tunnels everywhere! This was truly interesting to watch. We would not have been able to observe these creatures so easily if we didn’t have this ant farm. This is an activity I know we will do again.
More Ant Resources:
We used a printable ant journal found in my Nature Study Printables for Toddlers and Preschoolers ebook.
Insect sorting and counting activity – Spell Outloud
100 Angry Ants math ideas – Homeschool Share
Hey Little Ant Writing Prompt – The First Grade Parade