Giant Anthill

Children will make a paper model of an anthill.

Lesson Objective

Children will learn about ants and how they live in an anthill, which is an ant habitat.


What You'll Need

  • Large roll of brown butcher paper
  • New, unsharpened pencils with erasers – 1 per child
  • Black tempera paint – 1 bottle
  • Small paper plates – 1 per child
  • Black crayons – 1 per child plus a few extra
  • Masking tape

What To Do

  1. Cut a giant anthill shape out of the butcher paper.
  2. Using black crayons have the class help you draw rooms and tunnels all through the anthill. 
  3. Show the children how to dip the eraser end of the pencil into the black paint and make three eraser prints in a row onto the anthill.
  4. Distribute a pencil and a plate of black paint to each child. 
  5. Let the children make as many ant prints as they like.
  6. When they are done, have the children wash their hands and put away paint and pencils. This will give the paint time to dry. 
  7. Display the giant anthill in your classroom.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Where do ants live?
  • How do you think they make their house?
  • Describe their houses.
  • What do they do with the dirt as they dig?
  • What other animals make their homes like this?

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Begin a discussion about insects, include the fact that all insects have six legs. Show the children how to use a fine-tip marker to add six legs to each of the ants on the anthill.
  • Place additional materials (ink pads, pencils, brown construction paper, thin black markers or pens) in the art area so that children can create individual anthills.
  • Add plastic ants to your sand table and encourage children to make anthills.
  • Create this snack with the children: "Ants on a Log"
    • Ingredients: Celery, cream cheese and/or peanut butter, raisins, and a plastic knife.
    • Wash the celery and cut it into three-inch pieces.
    • Spread each piece with cream cheese or peanut butter.
    • Place raisins one after the other on top of the cream cheese or peanut butter.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Did the children understand how ants make anthills?
  • Did each child recognize that an anthill is the home or habitat for the ant?
  • Can the children describe what an anthill looks like?
  • Can the children talk about ant habitats in relation to other animals’ homes?


Did You Know

Ants are insects that make their homes beneath the Earth. A family of ants is called a colony and they live beneath the Earth. They dig many tunnels in the ground. An anthill is typically a pile of Earth, sand, pine needles, or clay, or a combination of these things and other materials, that has come out of the Earth where the ants made their entrance. Beneath the ground, the family of ants, including many worker ants, carries tiny bits of dirt and pebbles out of the hole and deposits them near the exit of the home. The material taken from the Earth is normally put at the top of the hill to prevent it from sliding back into their home.

Arthropods are animals with segmented bodies, six or more jointed legs, and a hard shell called an exoskeleton. They are the largest animal group on Earth.  Most belong to one of three major groups: insects, crustaceans, or arachnids. Insects have three body parts (a head, thorax, and abdomen), two antennae, and six jointed legs.  Most adult insects have wings. Flies only have two wings. All other insects with wings have four. Eighty percent of all animals on Earth are insects. Ants are insects, but spiders, for example, are not insects.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • insect – a very small animal with three body parts: a head, thorax, and abdomen.
  • ant – a kind of insect, often red or black; ants live in large groups in the ground.
  • tunnel – a space dug under the ground or under water allowing animals and other things to travel through.
  • habitat – the natural environment of an animal or plant.
  • huge – very large in size or amount; very big.
  • anthill – a pile of earth made by ants as they dig their underground nest; anthills are found near the nest entrance.

Lesson Tips

  • If your class is too large or too young to work around a single anthill, create several anthills and have the children work in smaller groups.
  • You can use ink pads rather than paint if you prefer.


  • Are You an Ant? by Judy Allen
  • Hey, Little Ant by Phillip M. Hoose
  • The Ant and the Grasshopper by Rebecca Emberley

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS