Is It Time To Bring In The Ants?

This week, Paula was away one day, and a supply who’s been in our classroom before was thankfully able to come back again. There’s so much that happens in our room, which we’re both accustomed to by now, that it’s interesting to hear insights about our program from someone on the outside. On Wednesday, it was her comments about “ants,” which inspired this post.

As many of my blog readers know, outdoor learning is an important part of our day. We love to connect the outdoor and indoor learning environments, and this seems to happen most frequently as students explore habitats. Over the years, and through various grades and different schools, I’ve been host to many creepy crawly class pets: from worms to spiders to bumblebees to centipedes, and now, to ants. With more classes outside in this warmer weather, our class has been going to “the mountain” each day. You can find numerous living things on this mini-mountain, but currently, ants seem to be around in high numbers. On Wednesday, a group of children found some ants, and created a habitat in a plastic bucket. They wanted to bring the ants inside. Our rules for bringing in bugs/insects/assorted creepy crawlies are that …

  • You need to have a way to keep them safe.
  • They need to become part of your classroom learning for the day (e.g., drawing about them, writing about them, creating items for them, etc.).
  • They need to go home with you and/or be released at the end of the day. For this last point, we’re incredibly grateful to our amazing families, who will happily bring home everything from worms to ants often to release in their garden spaces.

The students agreed, and so they brought in their ants. In the afternoon, they started to create a house for the ants. There was a lot of excitement as the ants appeared to “eat” the grass.

With Paula away, I captured and shared far less documentation than usual. I share this post though, as it was shortly before this moment that Paula’s supply went to look at what these students were doing with the LEGO. She came back to me and said, “Do you know that they have ants in the classroom?” Actually, yes, I do. I think this surprised her at first, but then we spoke about how these ants link with learning, from creating the Ant Books (which they both made, even though I never got to capture the process) to building a creation for the ants, and even linking this building with some reading and writing opportunities. Ants become more than ants, when there’s a longer period of time to settle into play and explore these creatures more.

I thought about this again yesterday, when students created another ant habitat to bring inside. This time, the ant play, conversations, creations, and problem solving, extended for almost three hours, and included a combination of different students throughout the day.

Watching this play and other play throughout the day yesterday, had Paula and I returning to this blog post that I wrote for The MEHRIT Centre. While this post might be focused on worms, it’s easy to extrapolate and make it about more than that. There was this wonderful feeling of calm and independence in the classroom yesterday. We’re now nearing the end of the school year, and it’s understandable why some kids and adults might be dysregulated. Could a little more connecting, creating, problem solving, and exploring with a variety of bugs/insects/creepy crawlies make a difference in these final weeks of school? I have to wonder. Maybe a few unconventional pets is something that many kids could benefit from right now. What do you think?


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