Lesson Plan: Little Me In A Big World

Length of sessions:
  • Five 30 minute sessions
  • Two 45 minute session
  • One 45-60 minute session
  • One optional 30 minute session

Introduction Activity (30 minute session)

Read Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg. Introduce the meaning of the words "obstacle" and "overcome" using examples from the story. Have the students cite examples from their lives to show they know the meanings of the words. Discuss obstacles the ants had to overcome and how they did it. If your students are interested, go on a preliminary trip around the school to look at where ants live and what they are doing.

Activity 1(30 minute session)

Using Ants by Michael Chinery or Ant Cities by Arthur Dorros, introduce background information on ants and their behavior. Have the students contribute what they already know about ants. Ask them to share what they would like to learn about ants. Teacher record on butcher paper. If applicable, record discussion as a 'web' of ant, where the word "ant" is at the center and lines extending out are labeled with adjectives, observations and facts about ants.

Activity 2(Two 30 minute sessions)

Review record sheet, counting body parts and legs. Discuss what to look for when observing ants. (Ant behavior - what are they doing?) Discuss observations. (Why do you think the ants do what you saw them do?) In teams, find and observe active ant nests on school grounds. Record observations. Brainstorm possible obstacles that could block an ant trail. Categorize the chosen obstacles. Teacher records on butcher paper, and checks that each category is represented. Each team chooses its obstacle. Make predictions of how the ants might handle the chosen obstacles and what they do with them on the record sheet. Send a copy of the first observation sheet home with the students to share with their parents. Ask the students to look around their home for different ants and complete the sheet. Remind them that ants may bite or sting and to use caution around the colony.

Activity 3(30 minute session)

Review discussions from Activity 1. Have the teams observe the ants' activity and record information gathered on Day 2 box of the record sheet. Gather the obstacles. Each team places their obstacle along the ant trail one at a time. Observe and record on record sheet what the ants did with each team's obstacle (words or pictures). Discuss how the ants overcame the obstacles. Teacher records ideas on butcher paper.


With this list, you can invent a verse for the ants and their obstacles using the song "The Ants Go Marching One By One, Hoorah, Hoorah." Insert your obstacles and results. (See sample.)

Rainy Day Alternative

Discuss the rain as an obstacle and have the students speculate on how the ants handle rain. Compare how humans deal with rain. After rain, check the ant nests. You might add this to the song.

Activity 4(45-60 minute session)

Review discussions from activity 2. Read I Can't Said The Ant by Polly Cameron. Ask each team to share one thing they have learned. Brainstorm obstacles that the students have or will have to overcome in their own lives (e.g., reaching the sink, crossing the road, etc.,). Record them in their journal or on paper (pictures or words). Brainstorm strategies to overcome these obstacles. Teacher records on butcher paper. Compare with the ants' strategies discussed in the last activities. Look for similarities and differences.

Activity 5(45 minute session)

Read Happy Birthday, Sam by Pat Hutchins. Discuss. Give each team an obstacle and have them role-play different ways to overcome it. Discuss feelings about overcoming the obstacles. (Is it better to keep trying or give up?) Teacher records on butcher paper.

Closure Activity(45 minute session)

Teach the students the song, "High Hopes." Review the feelings about overcoming obstacles as recorded on butcher paper. Sing the song.

Lesson Intro Set-up Lesson Plans Additions
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Center for Insect Science Education Outreach The University of Arizona
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