Ant Farm Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Through activities in this lesson plan, teachers can guide students through building their own ant farm and carrying out scientific observations of the ants' habitat and behaviors.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • describe behavioral habits of ants
  • build an ant farm
  • identify parts of an ant's body


60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.4

With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)

  • NGSS Science Standards 2-LS4-1

Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

Materials Needed

  • The Magic School Bus Gets Ants in Its Pants by Joanna Cole
  • Diagram showing parts of an ant's body
  • Materials for making ant farms (see activity)
  • Chart paper for a 'Facts About Ants' chart


  • Ant farm
  • Antennae
  • Mandible
  • Thorax
  • Abdomen
  • Entomologist


  • Activate students' prior knowledge about ants by asking students if they have ever seen ants. What do they know about them?
  • Start a chart titled 'Facts About Ants.' Add to it as the students learn more about ants.
  • Read the book The Magic School Bus Gets Ants in Its Pants by Joanna Cole aloud to the class.
  • Ask the students if they learned anything new about ants from this story, and add information to the 'Facts About Ants' chart.
  • Show a diagram of an ant's body. Tell the students that an ant's body has three main sections: the head, thorax and abdomen. Label these parts on the diagram.
  • Point out the antennae, mandible, eyes, and legs on the diagram and label those as well.
  • Tell the students that the ant has special eyes that have many lenses so that it can see very well. The ant's antennae are used for hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. The mandible is its jaw and is used for eating.
  • Introduce the activity by telling students that they are going to be entomologists, who are scientists who study insects. They are going to build ant farms so that they can study the behaviors of ants.


  • Put students into groups of 4-5. Each group will be making its own ant farm.

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