Kids' Activity: Build Your Own Ant Farm!

by Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder

Making an ant farm with your children is fun and a good educational tool as well. It can teach children the importance of an eco system. Ants are a good pet for apartments or a home with limited space. They are perfect for families with allergies. And best of all, ants don't cost much to feed.

Ant farms are both easy to make and inexpensive. They come in all shapes and sizes and, to be honest, almost anything can be used to house ants. The habitat will be making uses materials you have around the house:

  • Large glass jar
  • Soft drink can
  • Black construction paper
  • Tape
  • Sand
  • Dirt and ants from an ant hill
  • Sponge
  • Piece of cloth and a rubber band
  • Food scraps

The next step is to catch your ants. Find an ant hill, and with a small garden shovel, dig up a bit of the ant hill, and a few of the ants. Capture as many ants as you can including a ant that looks larger than the others and a queen ant which may have wings. You might also scoop up little white eggs and larvae. Place the ants and the dirt in another jar, covered with fine mesh or cloth and a rubber band.

Here's how to make the ant farm:

  1. Fill the can with sand and seal opening with tape
  2. Place can in the middle of the jar
  3. Fill around the can with dirt and ants
  4. Dampen the sponge and place on the can
  5. Cover the jar with a cloth held in place with a rubber band
  6. Place black paper around the outside of the jar
  7. Feed ants by placing food scraps on top of dirt

Within a week you should be able to see many tunnels. Remember to keep the sponge damp and to offer food regularly. Your ants may like sugar water, dry pet food, toast crumbs with jam, pieces of fruit, leaves or vegetables. Don't feed them too much or their jar will get cluttered before they can remove it to their underground storage space.

Did you know:

  • Strong in relation to their size, ants can carry 10 to 20 times their body weight.
  • They work in teams to move extremely heavy things.
  • Ant brains are largest amongst insects.
  • Mushroom shaped brain appendages have function similar to the gray-matter of human brains.
  • It has been estimated that an ant's brain may have the same processing power as a Macintosh II computer.

Ants perform many activities that we think only humans can do. For example, ants herd aphids and "milk" them for nectar-like food and "farm" fungi. See if you can discover other human-like endeavors.

Julie Snyder is a mom of six, interested in kids, pregnancy, birth, people and lives in the outlying Seattle area. Melissa Jaramillo is mom to many. She's passionate about building, encouraging, and strengthening families on this adventure known as parenthood!

Copyright © Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.