When children have an ant farm to watch and explore, teaching them facts about ants is done within a more helpful context. For example, information about ant body parts, such as head, thorax, and abdomen, makes more sense and is better retained when the ants are right there in front of the students, rather than presented from a book or a picture of one ant. When the ants are an interesting, moving colony, the children see the three parts again and again and can learn to distinguish the parts in each ant they track. Children also see first hand how many legs the ant has and where the legs attach to the body. When these facts are taught separately from the real living and moving creatures, there is less reason to remember them.
Children watch the ants and observe how they move. After they have spent some time with this free time of watching, you can begin their study with questions such as:
How many parts are there to the ant's body?
How many legs does an ant have?
Where do the legs attach to the rest of the body?
What is attached to the ant's head and what do you think they are for?
Your students will learn and understand the information better when they are involved with collecting the data. Even if they make a mistake, you can redirect them to the ant farm to look more closely and give them the experience of careful observation. They will learn and understand the information better when they have this living experience.