Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Garden Mural Project, Lesson 3: Insects: Ants and Bees

Garden Mural Project, Lesson 3: Insects: Ants and Bees

This lesson is designed to last three weeks or more.

You will need to purchase an ant colony kit in advance or have available the materials to make an ant colony in a glass jar. (Instructions on how to make an ant colony with jars can be found here.)

Day One: Ants and Bees are both social insects. Research and discuss social insects. (Exploring Creation with Zoology I, by Jeannie Fulbright, chapter 11 is one such resource, or you may find books at the library.) Make ants to add to your garden out of black construction paper. Use 3 ovals, a small, medium and a large one, and 8 thin rectangles. Guide your student to glue the three ovals, with the smallest at the top and the largest on the bottom. Review body parts. Have them glue the legs and antennae on in the appropriate places. Review how many legs insects have and the word antennae.

Day 2: Have your student look through books on ants and then write about one species of ant or draw and describe an ant colony in his science journal. 
"Children should be encouraged to watch, and quietly, until they learn something of the habits and history of the...ant..." -Charlotte Mason, Home Education, Vol. 1. p 57
Day 3: Set up the ant colony kit or make one in a glass jar. Have the student fill a large glass jar full of dirt and tape dark construction paper around it. Wait until tomorrow to add the ants. (Full instructions can be found here.)
Day 4: For this week's nature walk, focus on finding and observing ants. You can follow the guidelines at the Handbook of Nature Study blogOutdoor Hour Challenge, Ant Study. Look for an ant hill, and observe the ants coming and going on the hill. Discuss what they are doing. Carefully dig up the ant hill, including the surrounding dirt and place it all in the jar you have prepared. Place wet piece of cotton on the dirt and keep it damp to provide moisture for the ants. The ants may be fed by adding ant food or tiny table scraps twice weekly. Make holes in the lid and secure. To observe the ants, remove the dark paper. Have the student draw a picture of what he sees.
Day 5: Most insects have two antennae. The antennae are used to feel and smell and sometimes taste and hear. Ants and bees rely more on their sense of smell than their sight to tell who belongs in their colony. Give everybody in the family (or group of friends) cups with cotton balls - half scented with strawberry extract and half with vanilla extract. The strawberry scent represented the ants and the vanilla represented the bees. Have one student play the role of the sentry bee of the bee hive was responsible for letting in the bees (vanilla scented cotton balls) and stinging the ants (strawberry scented cotton balls). 
Day 6: Have your student make paper tunnels and chambers and have your student add this to the mural.
Day 7: Using the mural and the paper ants, act out stories of insect behavior. The hungry ants go searching for food and sometimes invade a beehive because they smell the sweet honey. They try to get in to get the honey but the hive's sentry bees won't let them. 
Day 8: The foraging ants can discover aphids on the flowers. Make paper aphids to put on the paper plants. These look similar to the ants, but are made from light green paper. Ants love to get honeydew that the aphids excrete from their bodies, and the aphids like the protection the ants can give. This is a symbiotic relationship.
Day 9: When a scout bee finds a good source of nectar, it dances a special figure 8 dance. The more rapid the dance, the nearer the food. The angle of the dance indicates the relationship of the nectar to the sun. Have the student pretend to be a bee that has just found a garden full of flowers containing nectar. Place a picture of a flower somewhere in the room and have the student do a dance of body language to show another student or family member where they can find the flower. Make sure the student knows he cannot point or look at the flower picture. 
Ants also forage. If you have a large enough group, you can have the ants forage and bring back food to their nests, too.
Day 10: Once bees are old enough, they follow the forager bees' instructions to find flowers and gather nectar and pollen. After having your paper bees visit the paper flowers on the mural, add pollen bags (of construction paper) on the back legs of our bees and glue pollen (cornmeal) to them, simulating the pollen they would have picked up from visiting the flowers. Give your students Cheetos for a snack and show them how they get the orange color from the Cheetos on their fingers just as the bees get the pollen on their legs.
Day 11: On this week's nature walk, have the student begin a list in his science journal of all the insects he finds and identifies. He may add to this list each week. (See Handbook of Nature Study blog's Outdoor Hour Challenge #5.)

Day 12: Give your student the seven hexagons that you made in lesson 2. Have him write a fact about bees on each hexagon and then glue the hexagons together in his science journal to make a honeycomb.

1 comment:

  1. I'm always amused when I see the suggestions of catching your own ants for an ant colony because I think of our local ants (fire ants) and how much they bite and it is quite a scary idea to pursue.


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