Invite ants to your next picnic with the Ants at a Picnic Activity.
Invite ants to your next picnic with the Ants at a Picnic Activity.

Kids who are curious about science, animals, or insects will love trying these ant activities for kids. From an easy-to-build ant farm to a set of experiments you can conduct in your own backyard, these activities open up a world of fun and spark a love for learning.

Curious kids will enjoy observing the fascinating behaviors of ants. These ant activities are great for groups of kids, too. Try them at a birthday party for a fun and educational twist on the traditional party game.

Follow the links below to start these great ant activities:

Ant Farm

Make your own ant farm by following the simple, detailed instructions in this article.

Ants Go Marching Nail Design

Ants make a fashion statement with this adorable ants-at-a-picnic design for your nails.

Deadly Doodlebugs Activity

Ant lions are the larvae of insects called doodlebugs. Complete this activity to watch the deadly ant lion larva snare an ant.

Ants at a Picnic Activity

Tired of ants crashing your picnics? Try inviting them instead. Find step-by-step instructions for this cool ant activity.

Hungry Ants Activity

Kids get to investigate which foods ants like best in this interesting ant activity.

Observing an ant farm is one of the best ways to learn about ants. Learn how to make your own ant farm in the next section.

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Ant Farm

Spark your kids' interest in science with this easy-to-make ant farm. Building this ant farm is just half the fun -- kids will love feeding the ants and observing their activities. This ant farm even comes with a moat to prevent escapes.

What You'll Need:

  • Gallon glass jar
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Water
  • Sand
  • Spoon
  • Pie pan
  • Small block of wood
  • Cheesecloth
  • Rubber band
  • Ants
  • Bits of bread

How to make an ant farm:

Step 1: Clean and dry a one-gallon glass jar.

Step 2: Measure the jar from the base to just below the shoulder and cut a long strip of cardboard that wide.

Step 3: Bend the strip of cardboard into a cylinder the same size as the mouth of the jar. Staple the ends together and put the cylinder into the jar.Step 4: Add water to sand until it is just barely moist. Spoon the sand into the space between the cylinder and the jar. Step 5: Set a block of wood in the middle of a pie pan and place the jar on top of it. Fill the pan with water. This forms a moat that will foil any ants that try to escape.

Step 6: Cover the top of the jar with several layers of cheesecloth held in place with a rubber band.

Step 7: Catch ants outdoors and put them on top of the sand of your ant farm. You should only put in ants from the same colony, so try to catch all of your ants around the same location.

Give the ants a few bread crumbs every few days to eat, and only feed them when their food has been eaten.

Keep in mind that an ant colony cannot survive or reproduce without a queen (who lives underground and is hard to catch), so your ants are probably worker ants. You will need to set them free or they will eventually age and die.

Ants become fashionable in the next section. Keep reading to learn how to make the ants go marching nail design.

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Ants Go Marching Nail Design

The ants go marching nail design is perfect for a summer picnic.
The ants go marching nail design is perfect for a summer picnic.

The ants go marching nail design is perfect for adding a little excitement to any picnic. It might take a little practice to get it right, but the result -- an adorable checkered pattern topped with crawly ants -- is worth the effort.

How to do the ants go marching nail design:

Step 1: Paint nails white. Let dry. Repeat.

Step 2: To create the checkered pattern, paint two small red squares (one on each side of the nail). The squares should be of equal size, and they should align top to bottom.

Step 3: Paint a small red square at the top middle of the nail. The bottom of this square should align with the top of the other two. Make sure the corners touch.

Make sure the corners of the squares touch.

Step 4: Paint another small red square at the bottom middle of the nail. The top of this square should align with the bottom of the middle two. Again, make sure the corners touch. Let dry.

Step 5: Using black paint to create the ants, in the lower right corner of the nail paint three small dots in a diagonal line. Paint another diagonal line of three dots in the upper left corner of the nail.

Step 6: With black paint and a toothpick, paint short, thin lines coming out from each of the ants -- three lines on each side of each body. These are the ants' legs.

Doodlebugs meet ants in the deadly doodlebug activity. Learn about this ant activity in the next section.

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Deadly Doodlebugs Activity

Complete the deadly doodlebugs activity to watch an ant lion larva snare an ant.
Complete the deadly doodlebugs activity to watch an ant lion larva snare an ant.

Kids get a close-up look at nature in action with the deadly doodlebugs activity.

Ant lions are the larvae of insects called doodlebugs. These larvae create funnel-shape holes in the ground, which unsuspecting ants fall into. Complete this activity to watch the deadly ant lion larva snare an ant.

What You'll Need:

  • Ant lion hole
  • Live ants
  • Tweezers
  • Garden gloves
  • Tea strainer

How to do the deadly doodlebugs activity:

Step 1: Find an ant lion hole. These funnel-shaped holes, about 2 inches in diameter, can be seen around paths, construction sites, and most buildings where the soil is loose.

Step 2: When you find a hole, use tweezers to drop an ant into the pit. If ants are not available, drop a grain of sand into the pit. The ant lion may be fooled into thinking it is an ant.

Step 3: After observing the ant lion in action, use a tea strainer to scoop up the sand at the bottom of the funnel. The sand falls through, and you can observe the ant lion.

Step 4: Release the ant lion, and watch it build a pit of death.

Safety Tip:

Don't use your hands to pick up ants that bite. Wear garden gloves when using the strainer.

What Happened?

The ant lion builds its trap in loose soil. Sometimes it will build traps under ledges of buildings to prevent rainwater from entering.

The ant lion will often hurl sand at the ant to make it fall into its pit. It then attacks the ant with long, sharp jaws, injecting poison and enzymes. Finally, the ant lion sucks out the inside of the ant.

When you scoop up the ant lion, you will see what makes it such an efficient killer of ants. They have bristles everywhere, and their huge jagged jaws are able to pierce the ant, inject poison, and suck out the juices.

Now that you've watched ant lions in action, move on to the next section to observe ants at a picnic.

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Ants at a Picnic Activity

Complete the ants at a picnic activity to watch ants steal your lunch.
Complete the ants at a picnic activity to watch ants steal your lunch.

The ants at a picnic activity lets you invite ants to join you for lunch. With peanut butter, bread, and jelly as bait, you can watch as ants creep up and steal your picnic.

What You'll Need:

  • Paper plate
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Peanut butter
  • Fruit jelly
  • Chair

How to do the ants at a picnic activity:

Step 1: For lunch, serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. On a paper plate, set out a pile of tiny ant-size breadcrumbs, a small dab of peanut butter, and a small dab of jelly. Set the piles slightly apart from each other on the plate.

Step 2: Set your chair near the ant colony, and put the paper plate down. Keep your feet off the ground. Observe how long it takes until the first ant finds the food.

What happens after the first ant shows up? Observe how many ants eat each type of food. Do they prefer peanut butter, jelly, or bread?

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are

Safety Tip:

Set up a chair prior to putting the food down. Sit in the chair with your feet off the ground. Do not do this project if your yard has biting ants or if you are sensitive or allergic to ant bites.

What Happened?

It might have taken a little while for the first ant to find your picnic. But when it did, the other ants in the colony knew soon enough. Quickly, lots of ants came to the plate.

Ants like the energy they get from sugary substances, so perhaps your jelly pile had the most ants. The ants carried food back to the colony. This was probably easiest to see when they carried the light-colored breadcrumbs.

Do ants like foods other than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Complete the hungry ants activity in the next section to find out the answer.

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Hungry Ants Activity

What kinds of food do ants like? Complete the hungry ants activity to find the answer.

Find an anthill somewhere around your house, either on a sidewalk or

a patch of dirt. Make sure it's in use by looking for signs of activity. Once you've found an active anthill, plan a test to find out what different types of foods the ants enjoy eating.

What You'll Need:

  • Ant hill
  • Jar of honey
  • Leaves or grass
  • Bread crumbs
  • Sugar
  • Piece of lettuce
  • Small amount of tuna fish
  • Spoon

How to do the hungry ants activity:

Step 1: Spread some honey on a couple of leaves or blades of grass, lay out some small bread crumbs, spread out a little sugar, tear up lettuce into tiny pieces, and spoon out a bit of tuna fish.

Make sure the different foods are at least an inch apart and that they're an equal distance from the ant colony.

Step 2: Come back a few minutes after you've put the food out to see what the ants are taking and what they're leaving. What do the foods the ants take have in common? What about the foods they don't want?

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