The Wonderful Wisdom of Ants

By Philip Bunting

The people I meet and collaborate with is a major bonus of my work. In this edition I have had the pleasure of collaborating with a friend from WA! We were lucky to meet at AISWA professional learning opportunities in Perth.

Sarah Lilley is passionate about all aspects related to learning and is always willing to share how she transfers new learning into her classroom.

I truly thank Sarah for collaborating with me to create these teaching ideas for you! 

Engaging our readers:

This book links to predicting, making connections, and summarising,

  • Activate background knowledge: Have cardboard ants begin to appear in the classroom. What do you know….?
  • Predicting: Why do you think Phillip drew an ant inside the front and back cover? The labels on the ants are different why? Confirm or reject your prediction after reading the book.
  • Making connections: What objects do you use on pages 1 and 2? Where do you find them? How do you use them?
  • Predicting: Before you read pages 3 and 4: There are lots of ants on Earth. How many do you think there are?
  • Predicting: Before you read pages 7 and 8: What do you love to do? What do you not like to do? What do you think ants love to do?
  • Making connections: Pages 21 and 22: Connecting knowledge about using the recycling bins around the school with how ants naturally recycle. The idea of using a compost bin to help feed a worm farm and create better soil is also utilised by ants.
  • Summarising: Pages 22 – 26: Philip summarises the amazing feats of ants by using key words to explain the most important aspects of ant life: Love your family; Waste nothing; Always do you best for others around you.
  • Summarising: Create a matching game of terms, pictures and definitions. Pages 13 and 14 are a great place to start!
  • Summarising: Create a table of what ants love and do not love. Create a table of information about yourself!
  • Summarising: Visit Philip’s website to gather facts to share.

  • Making connections: Investigate another book created by Philip. Were you able to make text to text connections?

Inspiring writers:

This book lends itself to writing to inform, entertain and vocabulary.

  • Vocabulary: Investigate the titles of Phillip’s books. What can you borrow for your own writing?

  • Vocabulary: What would you write in the caption on page 1?
  • Writing to inform: Pages 13 and 14 explore the jobs that occur in an ant colony. It highlights the use of keywords (rather than sentences) to display facts. This would link in well with HASS concepts about community members and the jobs they do. An interview with Mum and Dad, or a member of the school community, could be the final outcomes.
  • Vocabulary: Pages 17 and 18: What is odorous? aromatic? pheromones? These challenging words lend themselves to using scents in playdough on the Sensory Table. Focus on how smells evoke memories i.e. What does this citrus smell remind you of? (making lemon slice with my Nanna).
  • Vocabulary: Pages 19 and 20: The words that have a lot of syllables/claps. Omnivorous, carnivorous, herbivorous. What animals are herbivorous?
  • Vocabulary: What words would you add to your classroom word wall with your learners? How would you support them to use these words as writers?
  • Writing to inform: Write your own pledge/action plan in response to the message on the last page of the book.
  • Writing to inform: Create an image of ants by using your fingerprints. What ideas have you collected for your writing? What can you now write about?
  • Writing to inform: Observe an ant farm and jot down your observations to include in a factual piece of writing.
  • Writing to inform: What are the different jobs of the bees. What is the best way to present your information?
  • Writing to entertain: The day there were ants everywhere in my….
  • Writing to entertain: If ants could speak! They would say….

Motivating our mathematicians:

This is a great book to explore number, time, direction, mass, shape, and size.

  • Shape: What shapes can you see on the front cover of the book? What other objects are the same shape?
  • Number: What is the number on pages 3, 4 and 5?  How many zeros are in this number? What is the biggest number you have counted to?
  • Mass: On page 6 there is a picture that shows the weight of ants and humans. Heft a range of objects to find two objects of the same mass. Draw and label your objects. Weigh the objects using balance or kitchen scales.
  • Size: List words to describe the size of ants.
  • Direction: Pages 11 and 12, which explains how colonies are like villages is a great inspiration for teaching direction. It shows ants walking left and right and could be used for exploring positional language. Even though it is not a ‘birds eye view’, this page would also prompt the creation of a map of a village the students are familiar with; the classroom or school.
  • Time: Ants have powernaps. The sign says, ‘back in a minute’. What can you do in a minute? How will you record your findings?
  • Shape: The reduce – reuse – recycle symbol is three arrows. Where else do you see this symbol? How will you collect this data? How will you present your data?
  • Number: Ants have six legs. Can you find collections of 6 inside or outside? Photograph or draw your collections.
  • Number: Ants have six legs. Investigate the number of legs of other living things. How will you present your data?

A bonus social domain: Working as part of a team:

  • Pages 15 and 16 explain how ants work as a team. This video demonstrates how amazing ants can be when they have to traverse a gap.

This is such an engaging and informative text – we thoroughly enjoyed planning these teaching ideas for you!

When you implement one of these ideas tag me in on your post! Sarah and I would love to see these ideas come alive! 😊

Enjoy discovering more about ants with your learners!


Andrea Hillbrick