Ants are such amazing creatures - so small but so powerful. They are able to work together as a team to lift several times their own weight. For independently-minded first graders, it’s quite instructive to watch a group of ants work together to carry a crumb of food back to their anthill to share with the colony. This activity is a good chance to help kids explore other perspectives by considering, for a moment, how gigantic that crumb must appear to an ant, and how insignificant it may look to us. This activity will help your first grader think about this viewpoint and create her own story about an ant’s adventure in her home, while reinforcing the importance of teamwork and building excellent writing skills at the same time. And what first grader isn't fascinated by bugs?
What You Do:
- You can begin this activity several ways. You can either talk with your child about what she thinks it would be like to be an ant or you may want to read one of the many classic stories discussing this topic. One suggestion is "Two Bad Ants," By Chris Van Allsburg.
- Next, have your child think about what the objects in your home might look like to a tiny little ant. What might the television or the computer look like? What about the refrigerator or the stove? Would an ant be afraid of the vacuum or a broom?
- Then invite your child to take an "ant's tour" of your house with a camera. She'll need to position herself very low and very close to each object she examines...have her photograph some things she sees from this "miniature" perspective.
- Have her take three pages of the primary writing paper out. The first page is for the "beginning." Help her paste one or two photographs onto the picture section of the primary writing paper, and then have her write a few sentences or more describing what an ant would see if he entered your home, keeping in mind what she's been thinking about throughout this activity.
- Have her repeat this process for the two other pages, explaining that the second page is for the middle of the story, and the third is for the end. What's most important at this stage in your child's writing development is that she just write...but if it doesn't interrupt the flow, it's OK to remind her that all sentences begin with a capital letter and end with either a period, question mark or exclamation point.
If she enjoyed writing this activity, next time she can write a story from the perspective of a fly or bee. If she has seen and enjoyed Bee Movie then this should prove to be a popular activity. She can also take the adventure outside and photograph some plants, or anything else she might like, from an ant's or a bee's perspective. It will be a great project for a warm day. Collect the stories together to create an entire book. Who knows—it’s quite possible she will have created a literary family classic.
Victoria Hoffman, M.A. Teaching and Leadership, is an elementary school teacher, writer and mother from Leonardtown, Maryland. She has taught grades K-5 in both regular and special education classrooms.