Ants in the Wild

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Science, Life Science

Grade 1- 3


Students observe and collect data about ants in the wild.


Find a source of wild ants near school for students to observe. Watch how they behave and try the various experiments which will be conducted with the students in this lesson.
During observations of the ants, you may consider having students use a piece of newspaper to sit on. This will help those somewhat frightened by insects to feel more secure than just sitting on the ground.
Consider taking photographs of all students observing ants during this study.
Distribute a file card to each student and have each draw an ant from memory. It should be as large as the file card to show details.
Take the students to an area near school to observe ants in the wild. Have them watch ants moving, asking them to describe the movement. (Usually ants move in a line, following a scent trail laid down by the earlier ants.)
Conduct some simple experiments with the ants so students can see how they react.

  • Draw a line through the line of ants so students can see how the ants react. (The ants will become disoriented for a while but then find their way again.) Let them watch to see how the ants reestablish the new trail. Ask students to think what method the ants might have used to find their path again.
  • Place an obstacle (e.g., pebble) in the line of ants so students can watch and discuss their reaction. (They may go around it or climb over it.) See if they can guess why the ants behave in the manner they do.
  • Put food (pieces of meat, candy, seeds, sugar cereal) in the ants' path and observe how they react. If they carry off the food, point out how much larger the pieces are than the ants. Have students notice that ants use their mouths to hold the food.
  • Let the students think of ways to study the ants and carry out their experiments.

Follow the ants' trail to find where it begins and ends.
Return to the classroom and group the students. Distribute the data sheets to the students and have them write illustrated stories about their observations of ants in the wild.


  • 3'' x 5'' (8 cm x 13 cm) file cards
  • Observing Ants in the Wild Data Sheet (page 17)
  • optional: magnifier for each student

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