Learning Experience 10: Ant Jobs



For the class:

Ant farm

12 double lens magnifiers

Black stamp pad

Index cards*

Crayons/colored pencils*

Chart paper*

Felt-tip markers*


*provided by teacher


Read the background information in the Insects Teacher’s Manual. (Please see PDF)

Evaluation Strategy:

Students will make observations of the worker ants and give reason for preferring one ant job over the others.

Basic Skills Development:









Objective: Students will observe the worker ants and describe the worker ants’ jobs.

What jobs do ants have?

There are three types of ants in a colony: a queen, a few males, and thousands of workers (all female). A queen’s job is to lay eggs that will grow into new ants. (In the ant farm provided with this kit, there is no queen ant.) A male’s job is to mate with the queen. The worker ants do all the rest of the work. Each worker ant has a job. Ask students to look carefully at the ant farm with a double lens magnifier to see if they can identify what some of the worker ants’ jobs might be and give reasons for their ideas. List on the chalkboard all the jobs that the students think they observed in the farm. The main jobs that the ants may have in their colony are listed below. Before giving the job description for each type of job ask students what they think the worker ants would do in that type of job.

Nurse: cares for eggs and larvae

Construction Worker: digs new rooms and tunnels and carries dirt outside.

Hunter: goes in search of food and brings it back to the nest.

Security Guard: defends the nest against enemies.

See if some of the students’ ideas of ant jobs fit into any of the categories. Go back to the ant farm and, again, observe the worker ants. Ask students to look carefully to see if they can identify ants that are doing each of the jobs described. Ask students why they think each job is important to the ant farm.

Discussion Questions:

What jobs do the worker ants perform?

What job do you think is the most important and why?

If you were a worker ant, what job would you be and why?

What happens when we sprinkle crumbs into our ant farm? Do the hunters come looking for the food?

How do the construction workers differ from the other ant workers? Are they more active?

Ask each student to vote for the job he/she would like to have if he /she were a worker ant. Prepare a class graph to show the results by first labeling four index cards with the four job titles. Give each student an index card and ask him to write his/her name on it. Ask the student to press a fingertip into a black stamp pad and onto his/her card three times to make three connected ovals representing the ant’s body. Provide crayons or colored pencils so he/she can add six legs and two antennae to the picture. Ask each student to tape his/her card next to the job he/she would prefer and give and explanation for his/her choice. Once the graph is completed, the concepts of more, fewer, and equal can be discussed as the votes are counted.

NurseConstruction Worker
Security Guard
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