Toddlers can learn about ants while watching them inside an ant farm.
You run for the ant traps when you see ants in the house, while your toddler revels in chasing and touching the creatures. Toddlers are naturally curious about the world around them and often have no fear when it comes to most kinds of bugs. Make a toddler-safe ant farm to satisfy the pint-sized scientist's curiosity, and teach him more about ants than the fact that you don't like them crawling loose in your home.
1Purchase the most narrow glass container you can find so the ants will be visible from both sides as they build tunnels inside. Window blocks from a craft or home improvement store work great.
2Scoop loose soil or moist sand into the container. Fill it to about an inch from the top. Tap the container on the ground gently to settle the soil or sand. Allow "Miss Curious" to help scoop in some of the filler.
3Locate an anthill outdoors. Take your "super insect finder" out with you, as he may spot ants before you do. Look around a sidewalk or driveway where ants have dug into the sand underneath, or check for anthills near trees in the yard.
4Arm yourself and your pint-sized helper with gloves and small hand shovels. Set the ant farm on the ground close to the ant hill. Take turns carefully scooping up some ants and putting them inside the container. Try to include a queen ant, which is usually larger than the others.
5Drop a wet cotton ball and some bread crumbs inside the container. Put the lid on tightly, then put some heavy duct tape over the lid to hold it securely before taking the ant farm inside the house.
6Dissolve three packages of light-colored gelatin mix in two cups of boiling water. Stir until all the gelatin is dissolved. Add two cups cool water and stir.
7Invite your little helper to hold a one-quart bowl while you pour the lukewarm gelatin into the bowl. Put the lid on the bowl and place it in the refrigerator until the gelatin is firmly set.
8Remove the set gelatin from the refrigerator and let it set until it is cool, but not cold.
9Have your "insect hunter" help you find an anthill around a sidewalk or driveway where ants have dug into the sand underneath, or near trees in the yard. Set the ant farm on the ground close to the ant hill. Put on gloves, and take turns carefully scooping up some ants with the hand shovels and putting them inside the container. Try to include a queen ant, which is usually larger than the others.
10Soak one or more cotton balls in water and drop them into the container. Add some bread crumbs. Place the lid on the container and fasten it with duct tape.
- Make a small temporary portable ant farm with a clear DVD or CD case. Fill the case with soil, moist sand or gel. Add a few ants and some small bits of bread. Tape the sides closed to keep ants in and children out. Let the ants out of this "farm" after a day or two of viewing, so they can find more food and water.
- Supervise while your "Curious George" watches or handles an ant farm, because you know that he will figure out how to open it sooner or later.Remove the tape and lid from the containers every day or two to add more bread pieces and wet cotton balls.
Things You'll Need
- Clear, narrow, glass window block with lid
- Soil or sand
- Queen ant
- Hand shovel
- Bread pieces
- Cotton ball
- Duct tape
- Gelatin mix
- Measuring cup
- Wooden spoon
- Clear, 1 quart bowl with clear lid