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by N. C. Volding 

Instructor,  Fort Bend ISD

Welcome to my thematic unit on Ants. My goal is to create a theme that is multi-grade level as well as multidisciplinary. Ants are busy little workers who accomplish alot...a good model for children. There are many wonderful fiction and nonfiction books available on the subject. This encourages children to read. Ants are fascinating little creatures, and all students, no matter what level, have a certain amount of prior knowledge which they are able to bring with them to enhance our learning experience. Feel free to browse and ... ENJOY!


ACTIVITY 1: DRTA Reading Strategy

Two Bad Ants, by Chris Van Allsburg



1. The first step in the DRTA strategy is predicting. Create interest by closing eyes and visualizing what an ant would see if it looked at various objects...introduce point of view (perspective). Without introducing the story, pass out prediction sheets (see example following). Let the children predict to what various parts of the story could be referring. Have them record their predictions individually, then record on a class prediction chart.

2. As a class, compare and contrast responses. Also show the cover of the book at this time and predict what the story will be about.

3. Take up the children's prediction sheets to pass out again tomorrow. The children can refer back to them to check their predictions after the story is read.


1. Review the predictions that were made yesterday.

2. Begin DRTA strategy. Read the Read the story for enjoyment and for confirmation or rejection of predictions that were made. Supply evidence from the text to back up opinions. Based on new knowledge gained from the story, discuss changing any prior predictions. Continue reading and stopping at various intervals, as needed, as new information allows us to verify prior predictions or reject incorrect ones.

3. When the story is complete, all incorrect predictions should be marked out and only correct ones should be left on the chart.

4. Discuss how we see crystals so differently than ants see the crystals. How would an ant see a puddle? A sidewalk? A cricket? A bedroom? A dog? Etc...

5. In cooperative groups, compare points of view of various group members to the subjects above (and others you think of).

6. As a class, review responses from groups making sure all groups are heard and recognized.

7. To wrap up, discuss what the ants could have learned from their adventure. Generate a moral or main idea from the lesson they learned. Share any stories that students might have had after being warned of danger or trouble.

EXTENSION: Use this story as a springboard (Reading/Writing Connection) for children to create a story or write their own adventures. Take time to share stories when completed during share time. Students might choose this story to publish later on.



a forest


a mountain


a strange world


glassy curved wall


giant silver scoop


boiling brown lake




wet dark chamber (room)


smooth metal wall; something comforting



"FOCUS OUTWARD". . . an outdoor experience.

Objective: The learner will experience nature through writing.


1. Explain the concept of "Focus Outward". The goal is to focus completely on one ant and follow it. Write down the thoughts, feelings, and activities of the ant as you think he would be experiencing it...from HIS point of view. PREDICT: What is he doing? Where is he going? Why is he going there? Is he carrying anything? To whom might he be taking it? NOW YOU ARE THE ANT! What are you feeling? Are you excited? Are you frightened? What do you hear? What do you see? What are you thinking?

2. After returning to the room, share experiences. Have the children tell what the based their writing on. Some might have much prior knowledge they can share with the group. Keep a visual chart with predictions of where and what the ants could have been going and doing. After reading some nonfiction materials and learning more about the ant, we will "Focus Outward" again. Hopefully, the students will add more knowledge based vocabulary and information the second time. They can compare the first writing to the second one and see how much more knowledgeable they have become.


Writing Poetry using Patterning

Objective: The learner will use a patterning strategy to create an original poem.


1. Brainstorm a list of words that describe dogs.

2. Show the poem "Beans, Beans, Beans" as an example.

3. Model/Guide the children through writing a poem about dogs using the same pattern.

4. Now, brainstorm a list of words (mostly adjectives and adverbs) which describe ants. Include vocabulary from science and spelling integration.

5. In groups or individually , have children write a poem about ants using the same pattern.

6. Share poems during share time.

7. Publish in a class book or hang for admiring eyes to view.

Beans, Beans, Beans


Beans, Beans, Beans


Baked Beans

__________ _________

Butter Beans

__________ __________

Big Fat Lima Beans

________ ________ ________ ________

Long Thin String Beans

________ ________ ________ ________

Those are just a few.

Those are just a few.

Green Beans

__________ _________

Black Beans

__________ _________

Big Fat Kidney Beans

________ ________ ________ ________

Red Hot Chili Beans

________ ________ ________ ________

Jumping Beans, too !

__________ __________, too !

Pea Beans

__________ _________

Pinto Beans

__________ __________

Don't Forget Shelly Beans

Don't Forget ________ ________

Last of all, best of all,

Last of all, best of all,


WE LIKE __________ __________ ! ! !

ACTIVITY 4: Word Extension Strategy for Vocabulary Development

There's An Ant in Anthony, by Bernard Most

  • Objectives:
  • The learner will participate in a word extension strategy to develop vocabulary.
  • The learner will use divergent thinking.
  • The learner will write using patterning.


    1. Instruct students to list , on a sheet of paper, as many words as they can that have the ANT in them. Give examples so that all students understand (i.e.: important, plant, antenna). The teacher models writing words that have ANT in them on the overhead (turned off) and allows the students 5 minutes (extend time, if necessary) to write as many "ANT" words as they can on their papers.

    2. Read There's an Ant in Anthony. As the story is being read, have the students circle any words that the book uses that they have on their own paper. Again, the teacher models.

    3. When the book is completed, have a student read the words he/she had thought of that had not been included in the story. The other students circle words on their lists that are called out by a classmate. Continue having one reader at a time read words until all students have every word circled. This keeps all the children actively involved, therefore, actively learning. The teacher has actively modeled on the overhead so the students can see her.

    4. Use this list as a springboard for future writing. Make sure it gets put safely into the kids' Writing Folders to be used tomorrow.


    1. Have each child retrieve his/her list of ANT words.

    2. Review yesterday's story involving Anthony. Discuss how the story evolves based on ANT words the author selects.

    3. Read Ulysses S. Ant and Robert E. Flea, by Tom LaFleur. Discuss the evolution of the story based on the words chosen.

    4. Read Antsters, by Cathi Hepworth. Discuss the ANT word pattern.

    5. Have the class choose 7 words they would like to use in a class story. Model writing the story with the children. Encourage the students to use categories in their stories...for example-Susie did not find ants in trees, in dirt, or in flowers, but she found an ant in PLANTS. All things could be categorized as outdoor things.

    6. Have each child take out a colored pencil and darken the circle around at least 7 words he/she would like to use in his/her story.

    7. Students write, and the teacher facilitates. Take time to share their stories during Share Time. Also find a way to celebrate their writings by publishing.


    Building Ant Cities (Art Integration using Sandpaper)

    Objective: The learner will use sandpaper to create an ant mound with rooms labeled and drawn using knowledge gained during our ant study.

    Additional Resources needed: Each child will need one square (about 9x11) of sandpaper (whatever is cheapest), and various colors of construction paper (for decorating). It is also necessary to gather and use as a discussion various nonfiction books on ants, insects, etc. The two books I find especially helpful and interesting when building ant cities are Ant Cities by Arthur Dorros and Ants by Cynthia Overbeck. But as I mentioned before, most nonfiction books on ants have interesting and varied facts on their habitats.


    1. After researching and discussing the arrangement of an ant mound (and brainstorming the various rooms and tunnels within the nest), each student will design his/her own ant city containing all of the specific rooms which are present within the tunnels and underground habitats of ants.

    2. After designing the nest, the students will receive a sheet of sandpaper each on which to draw and cut out the individual rooms. Use the back (smooth paper) of the sandpaper sheet to draw the design. Then cut out the tunnels and individual rooms with scissors being extremely careful NOT to cut out the outlines as the outlines will serve as the habitat. The inside cutout will be tossed in the trash or used for further island type decoration if a tunnel got too wide in the cutting process.

    3. Students will now mount the boundary sandpaper on a manilla paper (sand side out).

    4. Now it is time to label the rooms, add the contents to each room, and add ants to our cities.

    5. The kids love to decorate the top of the ant mounds when they are finished. Some cute ideas they have come up with are flowers growing out of the mound and a Nike sports shoe stomping it.


    Reading and Writing Fables (genre)

    • Objectives:
    • The learner will use the KWL strategy to tap prior knowledge and focus learning.
    • The learner will create a story map summary after reading the stories.
    • The learner will identify the moral of the stories as an implied main idea.


      1. Using a large KWL chart on chart paper or the chalk board, tap prior knowledge of what kids already know about ants and doves. By viewing the cover of the book, full in the sections of he chart for WHAT WE KNOW and WHAT WE WANT TO FIND OUT.

      2. Read The Ant and the Dove an Aesop tale retold by Mary Lewis Wang. Discuss how each used its special talents to help the other in times of need. From this discussion, generate a moral (or main idea).

      3. Now, go back to the chart and write new things we learned about ants and doves and how they worked together. Write these comments in the 3rd column, WHAT WE LEARNED.

      4. In the bottom part of the 3rd column, generate some responses from the students about questions they still have. This might provide some extension activities in the areas of fables, fantasy, etc...

      5. Emphasize the importance of the various elements of a story. What would the story have been like had there been only ONE character? What was the importance of the setting in this story? What if the setting had not included water? Could the story have been the same? Would the problem be the same? Continue questioning along this same line until all of the story elements have been touched upon.

      6. Have the children complete a story map to show comprehension of the essential elements in a story, as well as the cause/effect relationships which create the plot.

      ***7. Now read the story The Ant and the Elephant by Bill Peet. In the story, the kind elephant rescues the lion, the giraffe, and the rhino when they were in a bind. But who will save the elephant when he runs into trouble? The kids will love to make comparisons between the stories and discuss the obvious character flaws of the animals. They will also love to create their own fables by choosing two (or more) animals of their own liking to intertwine into a fable of their own. Be sure they include how the animals used their own special talents to help each other out of a bind.

      ACTIVITY 7

      Cooperation + Problem Solving + Scientific Vocabulary = Fun meaningful learning!

      • Objectives:
      • The learner will use ANT scientific terminology to create word problems relating to the specific strategy being stressed in class at the time (varies).
      • The learner will use correct spellings of scientific terms to provide extra spelling/accuracy practice.
      • The learner will work cooperatively in a group to accomplish a common goal.


        1. Review specialized vocabulary and meanings previously learned. Have all displayed openly so students can clearly see.

        2. With the students' help, compose an original word problem using and spelling terminology correctly. Try to incorporate 3-5 terms into each word problem. (Example: The queen ant lays 9 eggs on Monday and stores them in the nursery of the nest. She lays 8 more eggs on Tuesday and 6 more on Wednesday. How many eggs do the workers have to take care of when the queen decides she needs to rest? 9 + 8 + 6 = 23 eggs)

        3. Divide the class into cooperative groups of 3 children each.

        4. Groups work cooperatively to compose a word problem. The teacher acts as the facilitator.

        5. When all groups have completed their word problem, each group will present its own to the class. Students will individually work the problems. If the information is vague or unclear, the class will act as facilitators to help the group state the problem more clearly. When all have finished sharing, the word problems will be compiled into a class book to be checked out by students and taken home to share with parents and family.


        • The Ant and the Dove, retold by Mary Lewis Wang
        • Antics, by Cathi Hepworth
        • Bear Underground, by Boegehold
        • Effie, by Allinson
        • There's an Ant in Anthony, by Bernard Most
        • Two Bad Ants, by Chris Van Allsburg
        • Ulysses s. Ant and Robert E. Flea, by Tom LaFleur
        • The Ant and the Elephant, by Bill Peet


        • An Ant Colony, by Heiderose and Andreas Fischer-Nagel
        • An Ant is Born, by Harold Doering
        • Ant Cities, by Arthur Dorros
        • Ants, by Cynthis Overbeck
        • Busy Bugs, by Ada and Frank Graham
        • Eyewitness Book Series: Insects
        • Looking at Ants, by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent


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