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The Ants Go Marching...into Your Lesson Plans!

Why not capitalize on students' fascination with insects? Education World offers a scavenger hunt, with questions for students in all grades. Included: Fun activities to extend ants into your language arts curriculum!

Open your classroom doors to a learning invasion! You'll find ants all over the Internet... and Education World has made teaching about ants as easy as attracting them is! We've created a scavenger hunt with questions about ants for students of all ages. Just sort through the "graded" questions below to create your own custom-made scavenger hunt!

And be sure to check out the Fun Language Arts Activities that appear at the end of the scavenger hunt!

ARE YOUR STUDENTS "ITCHING" TO LEARN ABOUT ANTS?

A series of scavenger hunt questions follows. The answers to those questions will reveal many interesting facts about ants... Like ants, the questions cover a lot of ground. Some questions are more difficult, or require more online reading, to answer than others do. For that reason we've created a simple "grading" system (using stars) to help you custom-design a scavenger hunt to suit your students' needs and interests:

* one-star questions for students in grades 2-4

** two-star questions for students in grade 4-6

*** three-star questions for students in grades 6 and up

You might:

  • Choose a handful of questions appropriate for your students.
  • Create a hunt for your students that combines easy and more challenging questions.
  • Let students work in small cooperative groups to answer a handful of the questions.

However you approach it, your students are sure to have fun searching the Web. (The Answer Key appears below.)

THE ANTS GO MARCHING...HURRAH! HURRAH!
 

* 1. Learn about the different parts of an insect's body by clicking on the drawing. Name three parts of an insect's body.
Source: Entomology for Beginners
* 2. What kind of ant is pictured on this Trek Nature page?
Source: Trek Nature
*/** 3. About how many different kinds (or species) of ants can be found in the world? Choose the correct answer: 80 (eighty) 800 (eight hundred) 8,000 (eight thousand)
Source: Gordon's Ant Page 
*/** 4. What are the three main jobs of worker ants?
Source: Life and Habits of Ants
*/** 5. Tell about two of the ways in which an ant uses its jaw, or mandible.
Source: Insect Mandibles
*/** 6. How many fire ants might live in one colony? Choose the correct answer: 200 (two hundred) 2,000 (two thousand) 200,000 (two hundred thousand)
Source: Fire Ants
*/** 7. How are ants' jaws different from people's jaws? (Hint: The answer is in how they move!)
Source: Insect Mandibles
*/** 8. How tall might the nest of an imported fire ant be?
Source: Imported Fire Ants and Biology
*/** 9. How many ants can a giant anteater eat in a day? Choose the correct answer: 3,000 (three thousand) 30,000 (thirty thousand) 300,000 (three hundred thousand)
Source: Anteater: Digging Up Ants and Termites
*/** 10. Why are leaf-cutter ants also known as parasol ants?
Source: Leaf-Cutter Ants: They're Real Cut-Ups
*/** 11. What do army ants eat?
Source: Army Ants
*/**/*** 12. Draw a picture of a carpenter ant.
Source: Florida Agricultural Information
** 13. Do army ants find food by smell or by sight?
Source: Army Ants
** 14. One of the most common species of ants is called the "odorous house ant." How does that ant get its name?
Source: Odorous House Ant
** 15. Ants come in many colors. Do they come in yellow and purple and green?
Source: How Stuff Works: Ant
** 16. How many ant specvies are there in the world?
Source: Ants
** 17. How many eggs does a female odorous house ant lay each day?
Source: Odorous Ants
**/*** 18. How can you tell the difference between a native fire ant and an imported fire ant?
Source: Imported Fire Ants
**/*** 19. How does the size of an anthill relate to conditions inside the nest?
Source: How Stuff Works: Ant
**/*** 20. How do worker ants lead other workers away from danger or to a source of food?
Source: How Stuff Works: Ant
**/*** 21. Do leaf-cutter ants eat leaves? Explain your answer.
Source: Leaf-Cutter Ants
**/*** 22. Name three things that an ant's antennae enable it to do.
Source: How Stuff Works: Ant
**/*** 23. A special dog dish has been invented so ants won't get into a dog's food. How does this dish prevent ant infestation?
Source: No Ants My Doggy
**/*** 24. Why are "large yellow ants" sometimes called citronella ants?
Source: Pest Library
**/*** 25. How do ants clean their antennae?
Source: How Stuff Works: Ant
**/*** 26. Army ants often travel in moving columns. What's the longest column of army ants ever seen?
Source: Army Ants
**/*** 27. Through which port city did harmful fire ants from Mexico first enter the United States?
Source: Fire Ants
*** 28. Ants have two sets of jaws. What do they use their second set of jaws -- called maxillae -- for?
Source: Insect Mandibles
*** 29. Put the list of leafcutter ants below in order from smallest to largest. soldier leafcutter ant queen leaf-cutter ant worker leaf-cutter ant
Source: Leafcutter Ants
*** 30. How long have ants lived on Earth?
Source: Gordon's Ant Page
*** 31. Which worker ant lives the longest life -- the carpenter ant, the fire ant, or the odorous house ant?
Source: Ants
*** 32. When some ant species bite, they are able to make their bite seem doubly painful. How do they do that?
Source: Ants
*** 33. Does the carpenter ant eat wood like a termite does?
Source: Ant Control
*** 34. Things can be very difficult for a queen leafcutter ant that is starting a new colony. What might she use as a source of food in the first days of a new colony?
Source: How Stuff Works: Ant
*** 35. Do ants make sounds? If so, what kind of sounds do they make?
Source: How Stuff Works: Ant

A FUN LANGUAGE ARTS ACTIVITY

*/**/*** Send an E-Card! Visit Steve's Ant Farm on the Web and then go to the E-Cards page to send a postcard of Steve's Ant Farm to a friend. On the postcard, write at least two facts about ants that you learned by visiting ant Web sites.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Ants-On-a-Log Follow this recipe for a tasty snack. (The "ants" in this recipe are really raisins!)
  • The Ants and the Grasshopper An Aesop fable that teaches the lesson "It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow."
  • The Behavior of Ants A lesson for the middle school classroom. The primary goal of this lesson is for students to be able to use the steps of the Scientific Method to independently develop and test their own ideas through experimentation with ants. To accomplish this goal, students take part in a four-part study of the behavior of ants.

ANSWER KEY

  1. Students will list three of these parts: head, mouth, antennae, thorax, legs, wings, or abdomen.
  2. a red wood ant
  3. 8,000
  4. Worker ants gather most of the food, help raise the young, and defend the colony.
  5. Ants use their jaws to fight enemies; to grasp, carry, bite, or cut up food; to carry their young; to dig up soil; or to cut through wood to build a nest.
  6. 200,000
  7. Human jaws move up and down; ants' jaws move from side to side.
  8. 2 feet high
  9. 30,000
  10. Leaf-cutter ants carry pieces of leaves over their heads as if they're carrying little umbrellas or parasols.
  11. Army ants eat mostly insects, but any slow-moving creature can become a victim, eaten alive and left a skeleton in a few hours.
  12. Check student drawings.
  13. Most army ants are blind. They are guided by blind soldier ants that lay down scent trails.
  14. The odorous house ant got its name from the disagreeable smell (similar to the smell of rotten coconuts) given off when a group of them are crushed.
  15. Yes, ants come in yellow and purple and green.
  16. According to one estimate there are a million ants for each person!
  17. A female odorous house ant lays one egg each day.
  18. The head of the native fire ant is wider than its abdomen; the head of the imported fire ant isn't wider than its abdomen.
  19. The more area the mound of anthill dirt above the ground covers the more solar heat the anthill absorbs and the warmer the nest is.
  20. They lay down a chemical trail that the other ants follow.
  21. No; leaf-cutter ants chew the leaves into a pulp-like material which will sprout a fungus. The ants eat the fungus.
  22. An ant's antennae enable it to find and taste food; detect air currents; feel surface textures; hear; and smell.
  23. The special dog bowl has a rim area that circles it. The rim is filled with water so ants can't get to the dog's food!
  24. Large yellow ants (also called citronella ants) have a lemony smell when they are crushed.
  25. Ants use comb-like structures on their legs to clean their antennae.
  26. The longest column of army ants ever seen was a half-mile (.8 kilometer) long!
  27. Fire ants from Mexico entered the United States through Mobile, Alabama.
  28. The maxillae chew food into small pieces. Ants swallow the liquid that comes from those pieces and spit out what remains of the food.
  29. From smallest to largest, the leaf-cutter ants are the worker ant, the soldier ant, then the queen ant.
  30. The oldest known ant in the world, found preserved in amber, lived about 100 million years ago.
  31. Carpenter ants win the life expectancy race! Carpenter worker ants live up to seven years; fire worker ants live up to 180 days; and odorous house worker ants live for several years.
  32. Some ants squirt formic acid from the end of their abdomen into the wound.
  33. Carpenter ants don't actually eat the wood they attack. Instead, they rip and tear the wood to create their nests.
  34. A queen leaf-cutter ant lays special non-fertilized eggs just for eating.
  35. Yes, ants make sounds like those made by crickets and katydids, only not as loud. An ant also makes a sound by rubbing its body against another ant's body.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 2010 Education World

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Updated 06/08/2010

 

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