Wednesday, 29 May 2013


We have a problem in our classroom and it's been a problem all year long!  We have ants!  Not just one or two ants.  And we don't see them all the time.  BUT we have noticed we have lots of ants in certain places in our classroom. A scrap of food on the floor under our snack table seems to be an invitation for ants to enter our classroom.  A bit of cracker kicked behind our door appears to be a dinner invitation for more ants. Even in winter we still had ants appearing to eat/collect scraps of food.

DG loudly asked the question one day "Why are there so many ants?" And so an inquiry began.  

MJ - D talk to us about what you are thinking.  You are the one who got this investigation going.

DG - That’s because I like ants because they’re small, tiny and only small ants are babies.  I like babies. 

RM - Hey I like babies too.

NB - Some aren't baby ants.  Some are grown up ants.

RM - Yeah some are big grown up and some are going to be this huge.  

NB - These are grown up ants (points to photo). 

MJ - DG how do you know if an ant is a baby or grown up?

DG - Because there’s God to take care of babies or grown ups and babies have to grow up so some ants will have to be babies and if they aren’t babies then they really are grown ups.

MJ - DG do you think these are grown ups or babies (referring to photo)?

DG - Well they do look big there.  But out here they’ll just look this big (uses his fingers to show length of ant on floor) and baby ants this big (and he reduces size between fingers). 

MJ - So are you suggesting these are magnified to look bigger.

RM - Yeah and some ants can look this small.


This video was captured in our classroom in the space between our garbage can and the snack table.  

L - I can’t believe something so small can move something so big!  The ant is so little and the popcorn is so big!

MJ - I’m wondering how long would that piece of popcorn feed his family?

Our OISE teacher candidate Ms. G took an interest in the investigation and continued to provoke thinking during her time in our classroom. 

C - When I was drawing my ant I noticed these things…(pointing to antennae)

Ms G. - Do you know what they are?

C - No

Ms G. - Should we find out?

C - Yes!

After doing research by watching a few short video clips:

RH - Those things are called antenna's.  I think they have them to smell and hear.

DG - They have to suck the juice out with them, out of the leaves.

RH - I thought ants chew their food.

NB - I know how they hear.  They have these....

RH - They're antennes.

NB - The hear with them and they smell with them. 

BG - They like eat what we eat.  They can eat other animals like insects. 

Ms G - How do you know that?

LF - I know the holes that you said.  When they make their home, that's what the girl said, they dig the holes in the ground. 

Ms G  supported students as they created plasticine ants using a similiar technique demonstrated by one of our favourite illustrators Barbara Reid. 

At our Ant Inquiry Centre Ms G and our research team of students continued to investigated ants by watching/listening to a video on the ipads.

N - Ants have holes.   
Ms. G - What else did we learn from the video?
N - Ants have two stomachs.
R - Ants don’t have ears.
Ms G. - How do they find food?
N - They have tiny eyes

Looking closely at the different ants they noticed there are red ants and black ants.
C - They may be friends.
C - They remind me of the red ants outside that crawled up my arm and bit me.  

Ms G. -  Why do you think they did that?

C - They think your skin is food.
R - Black ants don’t bite.

The team read from the book Ant Cities by Arthur Dorros
which pushed their thinking further.

RH - Ants go down below when it is cold.

R - I helped an ant make a home before.  I added sand. 

KL - I helped an ant make a home too. 

Our latest wondering:  What is an ant colony?

MJ - You started telling me something about the ant colony.  What do you know?

JC - The ant colony.  Oh yeah, um like the ant colony is a type of hill and it has a hole in it and that's where the ants go through it.  They have sticky on their legs to get down the ant hill, like inside when there's danger and they fight the mosquitos with squirters.

MJ - K what were you going to tell us about ants?

KL - They eat skitos.

JC - When they hear danger coming their eyes go big and they hear danger from their...(motions to head and antennae).

MJ - Their antennae like R told us?

JC - Yeah.

Thank you to Ms G for being part of our Team at Jersey.  We will miss you.  As we continue our investigations we hope you will visit our blog often with your wonderings and inspirational comments.   


  1. I loved this inquiry on ants. I remember how my Grade 1 and Grade 2 students were fascinated with ants. I think that all students are ... They are such tiny creatures, and yet, so fun to watch. They cause joy and they cause panic.

    I never even considered launching an investigation into ants, but this would have been the perfect inquiry in my Grade 1 and 2 class: on both living things (for Grade 1) and insects (for Grade 2). I will need to remember this if I even go back to those grades again ... :)

    Thanks for getting me thinking!

  2. Thanks for your comments Aviva. It is always rewarding to hear we have inspired others with our thinking! This ant inquiry began as a way to engage the little boy who initially asked the question. I was trying to find the 'hook' for him and this was it. Enough of our students were also interested in the subject so the inquiry took off. Such a simple topic and so much interest. We are still working on bits and pieces. DG did a survey of the classrooms on the main floor and found they all had ants. Need to still visit the upstairs classrooms and get data from them before our mathematicians can record their findings and report back to the office and the caretakers.