While tandem homeschooling my girls, I discovered that it was absolutely essential to involve the two of them in one another’s activities. So as the younger one likes to involve in higher aged group arts explorations and sensory play, so does the elder one enjoy being the teacher/ instructor in lower aged group activities. As I began to introduce the English Alphabet to my 2.5 year old, the elder one enjoys the simple set ups as well, but she did demand a higher challenge on the theme as well. Thereby came the Nature exploration series : the first in the series being Ant Explorations.
You will find Letter A themed activities for 2 year olds here.
How do you initiate nature explorations and learning?
1️⃣Step 1 observation. Allow for space to observe life around you. What you may consider a pest may be a great learning opportunity within the 4 walls of the house in itself.
2️⃣Step 2. By allowing questions and encouraging curiosity. As a mother I know as well as you how absolutely annoying the question “ why” can be. But more often than not, these “whys?” Are opportunities to initiate child led explorations and learning. Allow that space. Even if you can’t answer it right away, make a note of it with your child so that whenever you find the mind space to set up an activity, you may.
3️⃣Step 3. Journalling. You don’t always need paper to journal. Imagine the floor to be a huge squared sheet, a graph paper if you may. Explore, hands on, bent down on your knees, eyes and mind wide open.
You can photograph, make notes and journal on paper later on.
4️⃣Step 4. Read read read. The more you read, the more you will know. Very aptly said, by Dr. Seuss. And reading more will lead to more questions, deeper understanding and a clear path of what next?
Nature observation includes requirement of a few essentials : OPEN EYES, KEEN EARS, A SENSE OF SMELL AND A TON OF WONDER. You may also keep along magnifying glasses (to look at things close up) and binoculars ( for things that are too far away), a camera, notebook, field guide and pencils.
Ants appear in large number in spring. When temperatures begin to rise, it’s time for egg laying, and so the ‘foraging for food’ exercises begin in greater numbers. Do you know any more signs that herald the onset of spring?
Choose to read about ants, maybe a story book about ant behaviour and anatomy or simply go around on an ant hunt, follow them around, observe their activities, hunt for an ant hill! Any or all of these initial activities sparks interest in observing and starting conversations about ants and allows for curious minds to be activated.
Ant fingerprint painting or Anatomy study follows well and you may find details on this here.
Art forms a great part of learning for young minds and throw poetry writing into the mix and you have a module of rich learning to follow up.
Journalling prompts such as the one shown below- what lies under an ant hill? Or How do leaf cutter ants build their leaf nests?
Journalling doesn’t always have to be on paper. There are so many ways to learn, and it’s best to follow the child. However, the same topic, revisited in a different way opens up new perspectives and brings wonder to a child’s mind.
Here is the anatomy of an ant colony #diorama built using ragi flour, beans, pasta, peanuts and leftover flowers from a bouquet.
Learning about ants and their life cycle, behaviour and lifestyle all rolled into one.
Find the 10 page pdf printable on our webstore under the title A as in Ant – one of 52 nature learning prompts that’s under preparation for ages 6-10 year olds.
Spend a morning collecting data. Put of food for forager ants to collect. Keep washable markers or watercolour pens ready. Each participant must follow and trace the path of one ant each. Follow and trace these patterns till a nest is located.
Next, look for an ant or group of ants carrying food. How is their track different from the forager ants? How do ants collaborate and cooperate to carry large chunks? What all do they collect? How do they find their way home? How do ants communicate?
In pic: 6 year old and 2.5 year old tracing the paths of foraging ants and ants that have found food, leading all the way back to the nest. We discussed and modelled what happens if an ant gets lost, how they carry large chunks of food, how do they know where to go and then completed the activity by journalling all about the experience.
Have you checked our Ant study Printables on the webstore as yet? Link in bio to download the 6 page ant study and journaling prompts.