You know how those last couple weeks of school the kids just seem to catch spring fever?
Well, this homeschooling momma caught it, too!
So we decided to switch things up a bit and explore the great outdoors. We’ve been having so much fun that we plan to continue it through the summer, and we will be sharing what we do in our new Nature Study series.
This week: get ready to go on an ant observation!
Our observation actually started with a fallen Goldfish cracker.
It didn’t take long before an ant found it. And when it left, another ant came, and another, and another…
I asked the kids what they thought ants would prefer, something slightly salty and crunchy like the cracker, or something sweet.
We were all leaning towards something sweet. (I mean, who doesn’t like a little bit of sugar, right?)
While they were watching the ants, I popped into the kitchen and got a tiny piece of leftover cake so we could test our hypothesis.
After setting out the cake, we took a little break from watching ants. We returned about 15 minutes later to see what was happening.
We were surprised that there were way more ants on the cracker than on the cake!
The kids were also surprised by how strong ants are!
A quick Google check let us know that ants can carry objects 50 times their own body weight!
Of course no ant observation would be complete without getting out the magnifying glasses!
Closely observing the ants led us to a further discussion on what makes an insect. Under the magnifying glasses it was easy to see all the things that make an ant an insect. We counted 6 legs. We observed all three of the body parts: head, abdomen, and thorax. And we were also able to see their antennae. So fun!
After watching the ants a little longer, we decided to try one more type of food. This time we poured a small amount of Kool-Aid (flavored sugar water) into a lid. We wanted to see if the ants would like this more than the cake.
It took a while, but pretty soon our sugar water was pretty busy!
Now it’s your turn!
Grab your materials and get outside to watch some ants! (By the way, here’s our favorite magnifying glass, perfect for little hands!
Want to take your ant observation a little further?
Have your kids figure out how much they’d be able to carry if they were an ant! (If your child is too young to multiply, you can use a calculator together to determine what 50 times their body weight is.)
Create your very own egg carton ants.
See if you can follow the ants back to their home. Want to really explore ants? You could dig up the ground at the entrance to their nest and see what happens. (Remember, ants do bite! But watching as they swarm to defend their home is pretty exciting to kids.)
Or, flip over some big rocks and see if you can spot part of an ant colony that way. We were excited to find an ant nursery when we tried this! (Okay, the kids were excited… Me? I am not crazy about ants. But I did it for the kids and the learning involved.)
And, of course, there are tons of great ant books just waiting to be explored! We really liked National Geographic Readers: Ants.