It's been about twelve years since I discovered the illustrated picture book Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose. Kaitlyn's first-grade teacher, Angela Koopman, had it on her wish list at the Book Fair that year, so I bought a copy for her and figured I'd best get one for our family. It was perfect timing for me because a career change had taken me from being a high school counselor to a middle school filled with fifth and sixth graders, and this little jewel with a powerful punch served as my very first guidance lesson tool to teach respect and the golden rule.
I made an acronym out of the word ANTS and created a bookmark using these four virtues as talking points to use with the students to enrich the lesson. After reading the tale aloud, we took a look at who the ants are in our lives and what is our ANTidote for handling them?
A is for Awareness
N is for Negotiation
T is for Tolerance
S is for Sensitivity
The lesson went really well, so I posted it online at my little school webpage for our parents to read. The author found my article and wrote me an email to thank me for the interesting spin I'd put on his work. He encouraged me to submit the idea and a copy of the bookmark to Teaching Tolerance magazine and guess what? They liked it and my review was published! If you own a hardcover copy of the eighth edition or later, you'll see an excerpt from that article on the back jacket cover.
A few years later, we hosted a Picnic With The Author Of Ant and Phil came to Family Character Night, where he brought his book to life by acting it out for us. He followed that with an old-fashioned Sing Along and it was a glorious gathering. If you don't know this gem, which is available in twelve languages, I'd encourage you to check it out. It will always be one of my all-time faves! There's even a musical score in the back if you'd rather sing the book. Click here to hear the song.
A few of our first-grade classes are currently in the midst of a PBL (Project-Based Learning) study using this book but substituting the word spider for ant. They are working on deciding whether or not they should squish spiders, not based on how they feel about spiders, but by looking at the data that they find out about them from their research. Are spiders actually our friends? I can't wait to hear what they decide.
If you love picture books as much as I do and want even more titles that you can think about, explore, and teach with, you simply must visit