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We couldn't possibly go through our bug theme and NOT focus on ants. Kingston's current favorite bug is probably the ant. He is constantly trying to pet them (which only leads to bad things for said ants) and he loves observing them. After Kingston went to bed one night, I put together an awesome anthill themed small world. That morning, before we dug into the bin, I took K outside to find some anthills to observe.
We found some great ones in our driveway, and K was extremely excited to explore them. He loved watching the ants go in and out. I explained to him that they were bringing food into their home and digging tunnels inside. We had a great chat about the ants at work.
After we observed the ants for a bit (part of which consisted of Kingston chasing the ants with his favorite rhino), we went up on the deck to dig into the ant small world. With the anthills fresh in his mind, K new exactly what the scene set up was all about.
To make the small world, I used our favorite sensory medium: Kinetic Sand! I molded the sand around small plastic flower pots and a plastic container lid. Then I poked holes in the top using a pen. I added the ants from our Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Bugs, as well as an ant from the Dollar Tree. On the sides of the bin, I included some small river rocks. The last addition to the bin were some magnetic letters that spelled out "Ants". I couldn't resist adding a small literacy touch!
K couldn't get his hands in the bin fast enough. He went right for the ants and began to engage in pretend play. I love seeing his imagination develop. This kid has a HUGE imagination. Watching him in situations like this is so much fun.
He told me that the ant was yellow and walked him around the bin for a bit. Then he explored the anthills further. Kinetic Sand is such an amazing sensory medium. He was able to pull the tops of the anthill off to explore inside, and then put them back on without damaging them.
He still finds the texture of the sand itself fascinating! I love the faces he makes.
He then began exploring the rocks that I had included. K is rock obsessed, as I mentioned in our Rock Hunt and when we made our Color and Number Learning Rocks. He typically likes to build with rocks when I include them in small worlds and sensory bins, however, I was pleasantly surprised when he told me they were the ants food! He clearly had been paying attention when we observed the ants bringing little bits of food into their anthills. He fed each of his ants multiple times, and was having an entire discussion with them about their food.
He did this for quite sometime. He even arranged them as if they were eating a meal together and set a rock in front of each of them. It was super cute!
When he was finished feeding the ants, we spent some times spelling the word "Ants". He identified each of the letters, and then he repeated the spelling of the words after me. Then he spent some time printing the different letters in the sand. Kinetic Sand is SO fun to print into. He was excited to make "t's" which is his favorite letter!
This small world kept his attention for a long time. He loved playing and imagining in his own little ant world. This may have been one of his favorite bins yet!