Literature Connections to
Ant Homes Under the Ground

Teacher's Guides > Ant Homes Under the Ground

The books listed here fall into a variety of categories. There are those that teach a great deal about ant behavior and activity and social life in telling their stories. There are others with strong mathematical connections. Some books examine ants from a different cultural perspective. A few books don’t contain factual information about ants but do foster an appreciation for ants and other small creatures. There is yet another group of books that enhance and build vocabulary skills through word play.
Also listed are books with the core message of the benefit of cooperative behavior which ants exemplify and students practice in these activities. And finally there are some books that fit into several of these categories.

There are many fables in which an ant is a main character. Aesop is credited with at least two familiar fables, "The Dove and the Ant" and "The Grasshopper and the Ant." Both of these use an ant to illustrate industrious and intelligent behavior. Aesop’s fables can be found in several different collections. La Fontaine, a seventeenth-century poet, retold many of Aesop’s fables in a book entitled The Turtle and the Two Ducks.

The story of the Grasshopper and the Ant is told in many different ways with several different endings. In Twelve Tales from Aesop, Eric Carle retells the story with some surprises. Another version is the basis for the book John J. Plenty and Fiddler Dan, listed below.

Aardvark’s Picnic
Amazing Anthony Ant

Ant and Bee and Kind Dog
The Ant and the Elephant
Anthony Ant’s Creepy Crawly Party
Antics!
Ants Don’t Get Sunday Off

Babushka’s Doll
Flit, Flutter, Fly! Poems About Bugs and Other Crawly Creatures

"I Can’t" Said the Ant: A Second Book of Nonsense
In the Tall, Tall Grass
It’s Mine!
John J. Plenty and Fiddler Dan
The Little Red Ant and the Great Big
The Magic School Bus Gets Ants in its Pants: A Book About Ants
Night Visitors
One Hundred Hungry Ants
A Remainder of One
Step by Step
There’s an Ant in Anthony
Two Bad Ants


Aardvark’s Picnic
by Jon Atlas Higham
Little, Brown, Boston. 1986
Grades: Preschool–4
When Aardvark plans a picnic for his aardvark friends he is sad to discover that he can’t find the ants needed for their tasty picnic treats. He decides he’ll have to find some as he travels to the picnic site. Along his wayAardvark meets some other friends with different picnic food ideas, but finds no ants. Young readers will giggle and squeal with delight as they see the ants that Aardvark doesn’t see. When Aardvark meets his aardvark friends at the picnic site it is very evident there are plenty of ants for the picnic. This is one picnic where ants are welcome guests!

Amazing Anthony Ant
by Lorna and Graham Philpot
Random House, New York. 1994
Grades: Preschool–4
In this innovative, hands-on book, the reader is invited to participate in many ways—by singing the text of the story, by lifting one of four flaps to complete the verse, by finding Anthony in an underground maze full of many interesting and humorous sites, and by following the maze as Anthony followed it. Another fun feature of the book is the long line of rapidly multiplying small ants across the top of each spread of two pages. This is a great visual for understanding multiples. While the actual biological information about ants is a bit skewed in this book, it is a fun way to explore an underground tunnel and makes a great math connection with its mazes, counting, and lines of ants.

Ant and Bee and Kind Dog
by Angela Banner; illustrated by Bryan Ward
Heinemann, London. 1992
Grades: Preschool–2
One in a series of several books about the adventures of Ant and Bee, this is an alphabetical story. When Kind Dog smells a good smell, he and Ant and Bee try to track it down. Their adventure occurs alphabetically—to find the smell, Kind Dog sniffs the air; they all walk along and find a bell then later a camel and a duck. The book works well as a vocabulary builder and the repetition of words will help and encourage early readers. Other Ant and Bee books help readers learn colors, shapes, counting, and days of the week.

The Ant and the Elephant
by Bill Peet
Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 1972
Grades: Preschool–4
When a tiny ant becomes stranded in the middle of a river, he seeks the help of a turtle who refuses to inconvenience himself. When the turtle himself needs help he asks a hornbill who says she will not oblige. In a chain of events, each selfish animal refuses to help another until finally several jungle animals find themselves in trouble. An elephant taking a stroll helps not only the ant but the other animals as well. Then when the elephant needs help, the ant returns the favor—with the help of 95,000 friends. A good read-aloud story to illustrate the benefits of cooperative behavior.

Anthony Ant’s Creepy Crawly Party
by Lorna and Graham Philpot
Random House, New York. 1995
Grades: Preschool–4
Like Amazing Anthony Ant by the same authors, this is a hands-on, reader participation book. Readers follow Anthony through an underground maze as he delivers party invitations then look for his friends under a pair of flaps. The final page shows Anthony’s party in full swing with a caterpillar cake with aphid milk for the guests. In looking for Anthony’s insect friends in their underground homes, readers develop their visual discrimination skills, and in following the mazes, mathematics skills are developed.

Antics!
by Cathi Hepworth
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York. 1992
Grades: All ages
For a totally humorous and very humanized view of ants, this is a great book. It is an alphabetical anthology of funny "ant" words. Each page has a large, richly detailed illustration of the word. For example, "A" is for Antique and the illustration shows a very old, spinster ant sitting in a rocker on a porch while knitting and listening to a gramophone. Many pages contain several funnies—the initial pun with the "ant" word plus more in the illustration. While more sophisticated puns and word play won’t be grasped by preschoolers, they’re liable to enjoy this colorful and funny book.

Ants Don’t Get Sunday Off
by Penny Pollock; illustrated by Lorinda Bryan Cauley
Putnam, New York. 1978
Grades: K–3
Anya, a busy and tired worker ant, longs for a little break from her chores. Nevertheless, when heavy rains threaten her nest, she takes charge and leads the workers as they rescue the queen and young ants. However, Anya becomes separated from them all. When she tries to find the nest, Anya has more adventure than she wished for. This easy-reader, early chapter book includes a nice map of Anya’s underground home as well as a map tracking her adventure. Facts about young ants, ant tunnels, and jobs of worker ants are nicely folded into the story.

Babushka’s Doll
by Patricia Polacco
Simon & Schuster, New York. 1990
Grades: K–3
Natasha is a demanding and rambunctious little girl who borrows a doll that turns out to be even more demanding than she is. Natasha learns something about herself—and that playing with Babushka’s doll once is enough! A good book to start a discussion about cooperative behavior.

Flit, Flutter, Fly! Poems About Bugs and Other Crawly Creatures
selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins; illustrated by Peter Palagonia
Doubleday, New York. 1992
Grades: Preschool–2
This book contains a collection of poems by a variety of authors about insects and other creatures that crawl, including a delightful poem about ants. Reading these simple poems fosters an appreciation for small creatures. The poems are gentle verses and the illustrations are soft and warm—a perfect combination for young children.

"I Can’t" Said the Ant: A Second Book of Nonsense
by Polly Cameron
Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, New York. 1961
Grades: K–3
With playful rhyming text, the story of a kitchen drama is told. When the teapot falls off the drain board, the whole kitchen cheers for a passing ant to rescue her. Unable to perform the task alone, the ant recruits the help of many other ants and two spiders. With the encouragement of many kitchen items, they cooperatively rescue the teapot. This is an easy-reader book with illustrations incorporated into much of the text that will enhance the vocabulary of early readers. Though this book is older and may be hard to find, it is recommended for its emphasis on the benefit of cooperation and its development of readers’ vocabulary skills.

In the Tall, Tall Grass
by Denise Fleming
Henry Holt and Co., New York. 1991
Grades: Preschool–K
With large letters and simple words, the rhymed text tells of the many creatures to be found in a grassy area—as seen by a caterpillar moving through the tall grass. The colorful illustrations show a variety of creatures—from beetles to bats—each doing something different in the grass. Ideal for a young audience, this book provides a playful and colorful look at small critters.

It’s Mine!
by Leo Lionni
Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 1985
Grades: Preschool–2
Three quarrelsome frogs quibble over ownership of their pond, the island, and even the air! A storm makes them value the benefits of sharing when they must share the last rock rising above the flooded waters. This is a useful story to introduce the merits of cooperation before beginning cooperative activities.

John J. Plenty and Fiddler Dan: A New Fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant
by John Ciardi; illustrated by Madeleine Gekiere
Lippincott, Philadelphia. 1963
Grades: K–6
This is a retelling of Aesop’s familiar tale of the Grasshopper and the Ant. The tale is elaborated in poetic verse and has some surprising twists. This book makes a good read-aloud for Activity 3, Sessions 2 and 3 since it has much to do with food storage.

The Little Red Ant and the Great Big Crumb
by Shirley Climo; illustrated by Francisco X. Mora
Clarion Books, New York. 1995
Grades: K–4
In this retelling of a Mexican fable, a small red ant feels unable to carry the large crumb of food she finds in a cornfield. She seeks the help of many others, but finally realizes she is the strongest among them. Many Spanish words and phrases are used in a natural way throughout the story—such as El Lagarto, the lizard and La Araña, the spider—and are formally defined at the back of the book. As fables often do, this one has a moral: You can do it if you think you can.

The Magic School Bus Gets Ants in its Pants: A Book About Ants
TV tie-in book adaptation by Linda Ward Beech and illustrated by John Speirs; based on The Magic School Bus book series
written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen
Scholastic, New York. 1996
Grades: 1–5
As the class project for the science fair, Ms. Frizzle’s class makes a movie about ants. In the style that has made the Magic School Bus so popular, the class really "gets into" their project—they shrink and are taken into an ant hill. The book clearly explains the different jobs ants perform, ant communication, food sharing, tunnel structure, and life stages. With Ms. Frizzle’s help, the class realizes that the ants work together cooperatively, and that every ant’s job is important for the survival of all. As in other Magic School Bus books, there is a page of facts in the back of the book, plus an ant hill project for parents and children.

Night Visitors
by Ed Young
Philomel Books, New York. 1995
Grades: 1–6
When ants invade his family’s rice storehouse, young Ho Kuan, who has great respect for all forms of life, must find a way to seal the storehouse to keep the ants out before his father kills them all. Through the strong visions he experiences in a dream—during which he becomes part of an ant colony—he finds the solution. This book is the retelling of a Chinese folktale. Many aspects of ant behavior appear throughout the story.

One Hundred Hungry Ants
by Elinor J. Pinczes; illustrated by Bonnie MacKain
Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 1993
Grades: Preschool–3

Told in lilting rhyme, this is the playful story of an ant colony swarming toward a picnic. As they march along, the littlest ant stops the procession and suggests they divide into different line formations to arrive at the picnic more quickly. In all the divisions of one hundred, the illustration actually shows the correct number of ants in each line. In the end, however, the ants’ rearrangements cause them to miss out on all the food; other forest animals have taken it all—even a snail and a turtle were faster than the ants. This book makes a great math connection as an early introduction to the principles of division. It can even be useful in teaching the real-world activity of how to make change for a dollar. All ages will love to follow along with the actions of these happy, but hungry, ants.

A Remainder of One
by Elinor J. Pinczes; illustrated by Bonnie MacKain
Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 1995
Grades: Preschool–3
When the 25th squadron of bugs march past their queen, she is dismayed to see that the lines of bugs are uneven. One bug, Joe by name, is left behind—a remainder of one. Knowing that their queen does not like untidy lines, the bugs divide themselves into different lines. It is only after several tries that Joe is included in even lines that march by the queen to the delight of all. Colorful and playful illustrations make this a fun math connection that introduces the concept of division and remainders.

Step by Step
by Diane Wolkstein; illustrated by Jos. A. Smith
Morrow Junior Books, New York. 1994
Grades: Preschool–1
In this simple story, a little ant and her friend spend a fun-filled day together. To reach her friend, the ant travels carefully, step by step over stones, across a leaf, and under a branch. Students may notice that the little ant is only wearing four shoes even though ants walk on six feet. The watercolor illustrations do a great job of showing the world from the small ant’s perspective. Throughout the story, many other small creatures are also pictured. Preschoolers, who also travel through a big world, can identify with the little ant.

There’s an Ant in Anthony
by Bernard Most
Morrow, New York. 1980
Grades: Preschool–3
After discovering an "ant’’ in his own name at school one day, Anthony searches for an "ant" in a variety of words and places. Each time Anthony finds an ant in a word, he picks it up and puts it in a jar—adding to the fun of the book. Readers can follow along counting the number of ants Anthony has in his jar—and the number of ants that find Anthony’s pants when he rests in a park! A great book to help early readers develop their vocabulary, this book is also helpful for developing counting skills.

Two Bad Ants
by Chris Van Allsburg
Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 1988
Grades: Preschool–4
When a colony of ants sets off in search of beautiful sparkling crystals (sugar) to feed their queen, it becomes a dangerous adventure for two curious ants who stay behind. After surviving many life-threatening situations, they become convinced to return to the safety of their colony. Illustrations are drawn from an ant’s perspective, showing the immensity of the world around them. Older students could answer the question, "How was the scout able to find her way back to the sugar in order to lead the colony there?" A positive aspect of the book is its portrayal of ants as social creatures who live best when they work together for a common goal.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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