Ant Cooperation Inquiry

Allister's Ant Picnic

Designed By: Carly Sannan, Christine Pohlman, Elle Folger, and Erin Smith

Age Level: 5-8

Materials Needed

4 ant puppets
artificial food (watermelon, chicken, donut)
picnic basket and checkered table cloth
Book: Time for Kids: Ants by Brenda Iosevoli (2005, Time for Kids)

Background Information

This lesson will take place in the beginning of the school year as we are establishing our classroom community. By teaching about the ants, we can compare an ant community to our own classroom.

Activity Description

  1. Read the book Time for Kids: Ants by Brenda Iosevoli
  2. Discuss the important vocabulary related to community and cooperation.
  3. Perform the play, Allister's Ant Picnic.

Wrap Up

Discussion Suggestions to follow the play include:

What did you notice about the way the ants solved their problem? Ants work together in their colonies.

What are some things they work together to do? In our classroom, how are we like ants? By themselves, ants are very small, but when they work together they accomplish great things.

What are some ways we work together in our classroom?


The students write a short story about how to protect our environment and share with younger children. Students should model the traditions of storytelling of the Indigenous cultures. Add illustrations to create a book with an environmental theme.

Literature Connections

  • Keepers of the Earth Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac (1999, Fulcrum Press)
  • A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History by Lynne Cherry (2002, Voyager Books)
  • Native American Legends Tales from the Natchez, Caddo, Biloxi, Chickasaw, and Other Nations (American Folklore Series) complied and edited by George E. Lankford (1987, August House Publishers)

Allister Ant’s Picnic Play

Characters: Allister, Alphie, Alice, Amber

Allister: (Thinking to himself) Hmmm I’m hungry. I wish I could find a picnic. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a yummy picnic? Boys and Girls, do you see a picnic anywhere? Oh yeah!

Allister trots over to the picnic while humming friendly music.

Allister: Wow! I see watermelon, mmmmm! Chicken, mmmmm! Even donuts! Boys and Girls, where should I start? I think I will start with the watermelon. My friends back at the colony would really love this.

Allister tries to lift the first food item, grunting and struggling, he can’t do it.

Allister: Boy, this is really heavy. Gosh, maybe I’ll try the chicken. Mmmmm, crispy fried chicken, maybe this will be easier.

Allister tries to lift the second food item, grunting and struggling, he can’t do it.

Allister: Man, this stinks. I will try one last thing. The donut has to work. I wonder if it’s a Krispy Kreme. What do you think kids, do you think I can lift the donut?

Allister tries to lift the last food item, grunting and struggling, he can’t do it. Looking sad and tired, he plops down.

Allister: Boys and Girls, what do you think I should do? How can I get the food back to my friends? You think I should go get help? Do you think my ant friends will help me? Great idea! I’m off!

Allister trots home humming as he goes.

Allister: Hey Alphie! Hey Alice! Hi Amber!

Alphie, Alice, Amber: Hey Allister! What are you doing?

Allister: I was out looking for some food and came up to a great picnic. There was fried chicken, watermelon, and donuts. I wanted to bring some back to share with you and all the others, but I couldn’t lift any of it all by myself. Some really helpful first graders told me to come back and ask you guys for some help.

Alice and Amber: OK that’s great, where do we go?

Alphie: Oh, I’ve been up all morning tunneling and I’m tired. Why don’t you guys just go? But, I’ll take some donuts when you get back.

Alice: Well, I’ve been tunneling all morning too, but I’m hungry so I am going to help.

Amber: Yeah. What do you think boys and girls? Do you think Alphie should come help us?

Alphie: Why do you think I should have to go boys and girls?

Amber: Allister’s our friend and he needs our help. Do you remember last week, when you needed help building that new tunnel for the colony we were right there to help you out.

Allister: And remember when Alice needed help building the nest. She couldn’t have done it without us. That’s what ants do – we work together as a team to get the job done.

Alphie: You’re right. I’m sorry I was selfish. If I want to eat the food then I need to be part of the team too. What else did you say was there? Did I hear you say chicken???!!!

Alphie, Alice, Amber, and Allister head off to the picnic humming as they go.

Alphie: This is sweet!

Alice: Wow! We can feed everyone with all this! The ants work together to put the food on each other’s backs. The ants struggle, but finally get the food on and head home.

Alphie, Alice, Amber, and Allister head home humming as they go.

Alice: Wow! Look at all this great food we found at the picnic.

Amber: We will be full for a while after eating all this.

Alphie: Allister, thanks so much for telling us about the picnic. I’m glad we worked together. Without teamwork we would never have been able to accomplish this big job.

All ants enjoy the food!