KENMORE — Ants inspired first-graders at St. John the Baptist School to learn about hundreds of kinds of the creatures in the world. In addition to exploring the anatomy of ants, the youngsters discovered the interesting jobs performed by the different species, including weaving homes out of leaves, carrying cargo many times their weight back to their nest, or the pesky ones that bite people.
First-grade teacher Jill Parrino capitalized upon her students' curiosity of science and nature to engage them in expository texts, a focus of the Common Core learning standards.
"High-interest topics such as this create an enthusiasm towards learning to read," stated St. John the Baptist's vice principal, Linda Garrity. "The science behind it is exciting for them, as well as comparing their own industrious ways to the little worker ants."
Garrity recalled how the students enjoyed creating "ants on a log" using celery sticks, bananas and peanut butter, with chocolate chips to represent the ants.
"Linking their snack time to learning extended the lesson in a fun and creative way. Students really enjoyed the role-play that went on as they prepared their 'logs' for the chocolatey ants. Their ensuing chatter about which type of worker ant lived on logs, which ants were strongest, and so forth reinforced the lessons in the most appetizing way possible," Garrity said. "Our students are developing that true love for learning from their earliest days at St. John's School."