Puzzles are a great way for preschoolers to develop hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills. They also provide an engaging introduction to the critical thinking skills necessary for elementary school learning.
For this particular activity, we discussed the differences between a queen ant and a worker ant. We then reviewed the colors and anatomy of an ant. Lastly, we constructed our own ants using pre-made puzzle pieces.
While working on these puzzles, your little ones were directed to recognize the colors they saw, and later learned that they sum of parts make up a whole – a concept that will foster math skills later on.
Focused learning and cooperative play are the hallmarks of small group activities.
The preschool classroom is the perfect place to learn the give and take of working together with other students. When paired with engaging projects, cooperative learning stimulates cognitive growth and promotes prosocial behavior.
For this activity, we used a few materials to create an ant colony. Before starting, we talked about what an any colony was. We then read the book Ant Cities, by Arthur Dorros.
In this book, we learned that ants create networks of tunnels. These tunnels enable them to live and support their colony.
Using boxes, toy ants, and cardboard tubes, we created the tunnels we saw in the book. With our friends, we pretended to be “worker ants”, working together to create a home!
Several species of ants commonly inhabit home lawns and ornamental plantings of trees and shrubs.
Using tweezers, plastic ants, and plastic grass, we practiced our fine motor skills by looking for these interesting critters.
Before we began this activity, we talked about what kinds of ants live in urban areas. Your little one learned that a wide variety of ants owe their existence to large urban areas like Los Angeles and New York City.
Some ants they learned about included carpenter ants, pavement ants, acrobat ants, little black ants, and fire ants.
This activity encouraged fine motor development, the application of new subject matter, and hand-eye coordination.
Ants undergo complete metamorphosis, passing through a sequence of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. An ant’s life begins as an egg. Ant eggs are soft, oval, and tiny – about the size of a period at the end of a sentence.
Not all eggs are destined to become adults – some are eaten by nest mates for extra nourishment. An egg hatches into a worm-shaped larva with no eyes or legs. Larvae are eating machines that rely on adults to provide a constant supply of food. As a result, they grow rapidly, molting between sizes.
When a larva is large enough, it metamorphoses into a pupa. This is a stage of rest and reorganization. Pupae look more like adults, but their legs and antennae are folded against their bodies. They start out whitish and gradually become darker. The pupae of some species spin a cocoon for protection, while others remain uncovered, or naked. Finally, the pupa emerges as an adult.
Young adults are often lighter in color, but darken as they age. The process of development from egg to adult can take from several weeks to months, depending on the species and the environment. For this activity, we talked about the ant life cycle and the different ants within the colony. Using pre-made cutouts, students completed the life cycle by placing them into kinetic sand: starting with the queen, moving on to a larva, continuing to a pupa, and finishing with a worker ant!
Though most preschoolers are unable to yet read, there are several activities they can partake in that promote literacy.
One of these activities is recognizing letters and working with manipulatives. To encourage focus, and promote an experience that will foster their pre-reading skills, your little one placed “ants” onto a bingo dauber card (to which an A was attached).
Activities involving manipulatives are an ideal means to introduce your little one to essential literacy and prewriting skills. They provide a fun, hand-on experience that your budding reader is sure to relate to.
To help us hone our fine motor skills, we strung pipe cleaners through an ant-themed lacing card. Parents may think that activities like these have very little developmental significance, but the truth is just the opposite.
Activities like these are crucial because they allow a break in the sometimes monotonous tasks of tracing or even coloring, and provides a wide range of motion that young writers can use.
Lacing activities also enable young children to become aware of the roles of their dominant and non-dominant hands. Stabilizing the cards while working the pipe cleaner through the holes strengthens those little fingers and muscles.
Storyboarding, or picture writing, is the origin of all written languages, used by ancient cultures before text evolved and as a natural bridge to text. The Chinese language was built using pictographs.
Egyptians used storyboards, or hieroglyphics, first etched in stone and later written on papyrus, to organize a complex society and to rule the ancient world. In our classroom, we use a variation of the story board.
We call it the story tray! Story trays are one of several tools introduced during circle time that work for younger students for whom the visual and the concrete are helpful elements in absorbing abstract ideas.
For this activity specifically, we recreated the story of The Ants are Marching, by Dan Crisp. To begin with, students surrounded the story tray to reenact the story. They were then each given a character in the story.
As the story progressed, students placed their “character” onto the tray. We did this until the story was completed.
Writing can be especially frustrating for young learners, and so we use a variety of methods to keep our spirits high! One of these is the salt tray! Adding a salt tray or salt box to the preschool classroom is a wonderful way to promote writing skills.
In our second week of ants, we talked about the letter A. To encourage your little one to practice their writing skills, we wrote letter As in salt tray!
Using small paint brushes, your little one “painted” a letter A with their salt.
They then added ant toys that they placed “inside” their letters.
Lastly, they enjoyed pushing their ants around, creating salt ant hills for their creatures to live in.