One hundred hungry ants travel in single file to enjoy a picnic but it seems to be taking too long to get there. They solve their problem by rearranging themselves into various groups. Talk to the children about the term, “group” to gain an insight into their understanding of the word. They might relate the word to small groups of children, while others may think of it as sorting or classifying.
Read “One Hundred Hungry Ants” by Elinor J. Pinczes in the Spring time if you want to integrate it with a bug theme. The story is fun to read, rhymes and has great lino cut illustrations by Bonnie MacKain. The following math and literature connections activities take place over a week’s time.
Materials for One Hundred Hungry Ant activities:
- labeled pictures of ants
- Unifix™ cubes and empty container
- newsprint and dark markers
- drier bingo marker and roll of adding machine tape
- 6″ lengths of adding machine tape or 2″ x 6″ strips of paper
- 2 pieces of chart paper
Day 1 – Before reading
- Talk about ants and show pictures.
- Give the children some time to share their own experiences with ants.
- Bring a few ants into the room in a jar for a short visit if possible. Let the children examine them.
- Have non-fiction books about ants available and read them throughout the week also.
Day 2 – Read then count
Read One Hundred Hungry Ants to the students and allow time for any comments.
- Tell the children that you are going to drop 100 plastic Unifix™ cubes or similar blocks (you can pretend they are ants) into an empty plastic dish tub.
- Ask – Do you think 100 cubes will fit in the tub? Let’s find out.
- Put the empty tub in the middle of the carpet and drop one Unifix™ cubes at a time into the tub as you count with the students to 100.
- Those who can’t count to one hundred will listen and copy. Children’s number sense to 100 will increase as they see how much space 100 blocks take up and how long it takes to count 100 blocks.
Day 3 – Read and draw
- Before class: Make 2 charts.
- Draw a picnic basket at the top of each piece of chart paper (or photocopy some food from the book and glue it on).
- Draw a few flowers around it.
- Label one chart: “1 at a time”, label the other chart “10 at a time”.
- Put these aside until you need them.
Step by step drawing –
- Read One Hundred Hungry Ants again and point out the parts of an ant’s body using the illustrations
- Give the children newsprint and a darker felt marker and tell them they are going to make a step by step drawing of an ant.
- Make this a counting activity.
- Draw 3 balls for the ant’s body – the head, the thorax and the abdomen.
- Draw three legs on one side of the middle ball (the thorax) and 3 legs on the other side of the middle ball. How many legs all together?
- Draw 2 antennae coming out of the ant’s head.
- Let the kids practice drawing ants all over their picture and help them where necessary. Let those who want to embellish their pictures with picnic baskets and flowers do so.
Day 4 – Single file
Use the book, One Hundred Hungry Ants, to point out to the children the terms single file, walking in twos, walking with a partner, walking in fours, etc. Act out walking in different formations. Ask, who else walks in groups? Possible answers – marching bands, soldiers, cheerleaders, walking with a partner on a field trip.
The following activity works well in a classroom if you complete it during center time.
- Have a roll of adding machine tape on the table and let each child stamp some circles (ants) along the adding machine tape.
- A drier bingo marker works well, new ones are too messy.
- Do not cut the strip until all the students have had a turn.
- The number of circles each child stamps depends on how many children you have in your class. You want to end up with 100 circles (ants) on your long strip.
- Let the strip dry.
- Tape one end of the strip horizontally to the “1 at a time” chart and let the strip of ants go across the bulletin board and tape the other end to the wall.
- The children love to see their long line of ants marching across the wall.
- Tape the labeled pictures of ants from day one to the excess chart paper.
Day 5 – Rows of Ten
- Give each child a strip of adding machine tape about 6 inches long (or 2″ x 6″ strips of paper)
- Demonstrate first, drawing the ants too big and too small, then just right so the children get an idea of how big to draw the ants
- Have them draw 5 ants on their strip and then trim off any extra tape.
- Have two students at a time glue or tape their 5 ant strips on to the “10 at at time” chart to make 10 ants in a row, starting at the bottom of the chart
- If you have more than 20 students, photocopy the book cover and let some children tape the extra sets of ants around the outside, then use the photocopy to decorate the bulletin board.
- If you have less than 20 children, have some draw 2 sets of 5 ants.
- Continue gluing or taping until you have 10 rows of 10 ants traveling to the picnic.
Compare the One Hundred Hungry Ant charts. Ask – how many ants on each chart? how are they different? the same? how many ants in each row on the second chart?
Practice counting with the charts
The following week use the charts to practice counting to 100 by 1s and 10s. The charts and the children’s ant drawings make a great bulletin board display. Add a photocopy of the cover of One Hundred Hungry Ants if you haven’t already done so.