Friday, June 22, 2012

You Be the Author & Illustrator [Ants Activity]

It’s a guarantee that any time we’re outside, we’ll stop to stare at the ants. My kids have always seemed fascinated by these tiniest of insects in our driveway.

The other day, my son and I read a great book about an ant walking along a railroad track and the switchman determined to save him from a seemingly inevitable head-on crash with an approaching train.

Its rhyming text has a rhythm, its ending is comical, and the book’s illustrations are wildly expressive and imaginative. If you’re looking for a fun fiction picture book about an adventuresome ant, this certainly fits the bill.

Download this PDF here.
Print pages 1 and 2 and flip over.
Print pages 3 and 4 on the back.
Fold and staple.

When we’d finished reading, I flipped back a few pages and asked my son to show me the rhyming words, pointing out that they were the last words in each line. Now it was time for my son to write his own rhyming ant story!

I gave him a book I’d created, printed on cardstock, folded, and stapled in the middle.

We started with the “illustrations” first. My son used an ink pad and his fingerprint to make ants on each page of the book (i.e. one ant on the first page, two on the second, etc.). He simply lined three fingerprints up and drew on antennae and legs. Voila, ants!

Now that the ants were added, it was time for some creative writing. Each page of the book I made has a beginning line that ends in the number of ants on that page. It was up to my son to think of a word that rhymed with those numbers and write a sentence where the rhyming word would fall at the end.

My son can easily match rhyming words into pairs, but coming up with them on his own was a challenge. I had to help him a little with clues. As we worked on the pages, I reminded him that the story was a progression. For example, he couldn’t say the ants saw something blue on page two and never tell readers what blue thing they saw on future pages; the reader would be left wondering.

This was a lot of brainstorming and more writing than son would normally do, but he stayed at it and was so proud of the finished book that he called a “meeting” at bedtime to read it aloud to the entire family. Success!

To reward my son for all his writing, we also made one of the characters from his book – Bob the Ant out of spray-painted plastic spoons, black pipe cleaners, and two googly eyes.

You can find the complete directions for this craft on Danielle's Place of Crafts and Activities on the Bug and Insect Crafts for Kids page. (Variation: We didn’t cut our spoons, but rather just layered one on top of the other.)


  1. Wow, you did so many awesome activities with this book! I especially love that your son made his own story and used rhyming words!
    Visiting from Read.Explore.Learn

  2. This is a great activity!! I think my two youngest boys would love to do this.

  3. This is AWESOME!! You seriously come up with the best stuff! The Spoon ant is super cool & so is the finger print ant. Pinning to use with Minnie for "A" week!
    Thanks for linking up to TGIF,
    Beth =-)

  4. Your ant is so cute! The book is such a great idea! What a great way to work on rhyming.

  5. Hi,
    I love this idea but I couldn't get the PDF to load - just got an error message.

    1. Sorry! Google Docs acts up sometimes. Try again later and if you still have trouble, send me an e-mail and I'll reply with a PDF attached.

    2. Could you email me a copy of this at cslhro @ yahoo dot com?

      Thanks so much - love this blog!!

  6. SO FUN! Great ideas for some Summer learning! Thanks for sharing on Saturday Show & Tell at Cheerios and Lattes this weekend!
    If you're interested, we would love to invite you to also link this up to the Summer Activities for Toddlers Collection! Here's a quick link: This would be a perfect activity to do with young ones!
    Have a great week and hope to see you again next weekend! :)

  7. Another great post! I love the ant spoons. I'm going to make these when we study ants in a few months. Thanks for sharing with The Sunday Showcase! I appreciate all of your wonderful ideas. My kids get to benefit. :)

  8. Oh great job! Expecially love the ant spoon!

    Am featuring this post on this week's Sunday Showcase - hope to see you link up this week too!


  9. After getting several emails that access to the printable wasn't working, I re-uploaded it to Google Docs and replaced the link. Hopefully that remedies the problem, but if not, send me an email and I'll reply with a PDF attached!

  10. Very cute! Thank you for sharing!

  11. This is SUPER cool!! We are starting a bug unit in a couple weeks and this is PERFECT!! I love the little ants you son created & the spoon ant - so cool! I shared it with my Facebook readers - thanks for linking up to TGIF!

    I tried to download the mini-book, but sound not found. Could you email it to me:

    Thanks =-)

  12. What great activities. I wish I had seen these before we attempted to make ants. Thanks for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

  13. fingerprint ants are so cute but that spoon ant is my fave - genius! You never cease to amaze me! :) Thanks for always taking time to share your fabulousness on the sunday showcase

  14. Hi - the download isn't working for me. Could you email me a copy to ebink @ shaw dot ca ? Thanks so much

  15. Hi there! I LOVE your blog. I'm so thankful for it. You are making our summer way more meaningful than I could on my own. Thanks!

    I just got this book from our library and went to print out the PDF. I can't access it either. Would you be willing to send it to my through email? I would really appreciate it! Thank you!! :)