The other day, one of my students was planning an activity for the children in her classroom. They are studying (drumroll) – Bugs! She wanted to try her hand at planning a food experience and was asking me about my thoughts about Ants on a Log. You know this one; celery sticks filled with peanut butter or cream cheese and then topped off with raisins. They are supposed to look like a line of ants marching along a log.
This got me thinking about how confusing it is for young teachers to plan an activity and to really pinpoint what the goals are and what learning is taking place. Her thinking was that the children would be exploring “ants” as a part of their study about insects. So I asked her, “What will they learn about ants?” and she looked at me rather confused and said, “But it is called Ants on a Log.”
A food experience can nearly always involve math. There is measuring, filling, emptying, separating, and combining. When preparing Ants on a Log, children can choose how many ants they want to place on their log. They can eat some of their ants and then add some more, and they can saw their own logs into shorter pieces and add lots of cream cheese. It is also a food experience that allows children to do nearly all of the preparation, with little to no need for adult help.
It is NOT a study of insects.
It is fun.
It is NOT a science activity.
It is a math activity.
It might be a health activity, depending on the focus of the conversation surrounding it.
Here is a really nice video of a young teacher working with her group as they make their own Ants on a Log.