Ant investigation lead by the child

This is the story of a following a child’s interest in ants.

My scaffolding of the ant investigation was inspired by Ursula Kolbe

WeeBeastieBoy was reading a book on ants. The book was put down and he wandered aimlesly.


“Would you like to do some more investigation of ants!”

Investigation is an invitationhe can never refuse!

So he showed me the ant book and shared with me some of the things he knew about ants.

I got out the ipad and we looked up a few things thatthe didn’t know but wanted to know.

One of them mentioned ant farms so we looked at a few of those and he said he would build his differently. He would build one so that you could see inside.

“I’d be interested to see that,” I said. “Can you draw me a plan?”

Out came big pieces of cardboard and some pencils.

“What do you need to build your ant farm?”  I asked.

He wanted to add white ants but the paper was white so he asked for black paper, drew individual ants and then cut them out and glued them on. Volcano’s are pretty much locked into his minds at the moment so there were also some red lava ants running around too!

When the plan was finished he built an ant farm with his blocks and some perspex.


These Mini Beasts insect and spider sets are always popular with children.

That afternoon I printed off the pictures we had looked at on the ipad and had them ready for him to cut out and add to the plan.

Ant Nomenclature Cards - Printable Montessori Materials for home and school.

I found some Montessori Print Shop Parts of the Ants cards and made them into books for them to complete. There were blank ones which they coloured in and added to the display. (See image above)

img_9387 img_9386

I made them up into booklets like these. The keyring rings are so handy for this and you can get them at hardware shops for a few cents each.

We pegged up the ant farm design with pictures of ants, what they eat etc on our wall. We added some leaves and bark as we had discussed that this would be required in the ant farm.

IMG_6513Image result for art using honey and antsRelated imageImage result for ant honey art Here is a aboriginal painting of honey ants which are important Busk Tucker.

We went outside to look for signs of ants until other things caught his attention and he drifted off to different games. Just by having read Ursula’s book I was ready and able to follow the his interests and come up with the materials and prompts for him to get a lot of satisfaction from his investigation.

That’s a big part of what’s it’s all about for me. What successes have you had recently where you have been able to support a child’s discovery and exploration?

I’d love to hear about it.

Lucy x

Meet the Ant Family Castes

A family of ants is called a colony. A colony has different types of ants, or castes, each has different jobs, all are crucial to their survival.


  • queen-ant-labeled
  • minor-worker-ant-labeled
  • major-worker-ant-labeled
  • princess-alate-ant-labeled
  • drone-alate-ant-labeled

One thought on “Ant investigation lead by the child

  1. This is a wonderful post, Lucy. In following their interests you are following the child and this is what Montessori is all about:) I love that this investigation led them to wonder and to research; to find out more about the natural world around them. and Ursula Kolbe…I need to borrow that book!


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