Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ants - Our Outdoor Challenge Brought In

As a part of our Daily Outdoor Challenge this week, we spent a good deal of our outdoor time, hunting for ants and figuring out how to capture them! Xander has reacted pretty bad to ant bites in the past and I was so proud that he bravely took this project on with such eagerness.

It was truly a scientific process - full of plenty of mistakes that we had the opportunity to learn from.

For instance, we discovered that using a plastic spice container is not an ideal way to contain captured ants when consistently adding more...  Those little suckers are fast and kept crawling out.

We learned that it is NOT ideal to transfer ants from a plastic spice jar to our AntWorks habitat inside the house.  One ant escaped when we were attempting the transfer.

We learned that the size of the ant matters as the two remaining ants from our front yard that we had managed to get into our AntWorks habitat escaped out of the tiny air holes at the top...   

But did this thwart us?

{Although I'm convinced that ants are crawling all over me, all the time...} 

We set out the next morning to find BIGGER ants and figure out an easier way to capture and contain them.  We discovered that like us, the ants tend to hide during the heat of the day, but are out in full-force after 6pm.

We learned that a skinny test tube provides a great way to contain them.  One flick of the tube and they all fell to the bottom so we could add a new ant.

We learned that even big fat ants can still squeeze their bodies out of impossibly tiny holes.  Those holes are now sealed.  Mom or Dad carefully lifts the lid each day to give them some fresh oxygen.

We continued our evening nature strolls each night and have enjoyed having our senses sharpened to notice more of the tiny, subtle things happening around us on our walk.  The more we slow down and enjoy these evening strolls, the more animal life and plant changes we notice.

We also love going to the zoo on a regular basis.  We try to make it at least once a month during the summer months and twice a month during the cooler months.  There are always new things to see.  I didn't take my camera this last time and I'm regretting it.  While walking through one of the bird enclosures, a female pheasant kept coming up to us.  Pretty soon a very jealous male came strutting up and proceeded to perform a very elaborate mating ritual dance around our feet, much like the birds are doing in this video (I promise it is G-rated).  This strange strutting and display of feathers scared the boys until I told them that he was simply trying to impress the girl and find a 'wife'.  {How's that for anthropomorphizing?}

So that is what we did this week as I joined my kids outdoors and explored each day!  I'd love to hear what you have been up to.  I was so inspired last week by some of the ideas Famiglia and Seoul shared of their daily outdoor adventures and how Our Side of the Mountain kept a running tally of their outdoor hours vs. their screen-time hours.  My kids have little to no screen-time, but eek - I was convicted to reduce my own computer time...

The Daily Outdoor Challenge

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  1. The lessons you all learned from working with ants are such good life learning as well as great nature discovery. To try again when the first idea didn't work (instead of quitting in embarrassment) produces explorers that are not afraid to make mistakes while they mature, or even after they are all grown up, like you!

  2. How fun! What a wonderful time your boys must be having with all those ants! And explorations in God's world are amazing tools for teaching them about HIS Greatness! What a blessing it is to know the ONE Who created it all!

    Blessings to you this week Heather!

  3. My girls love bug collection. I need to try some text tubes for the little bugs. What a great idea.

  4. Just added our everyday outdoor play post from this week. I made the commitment to my girls at the beginning of the year that we would play outside everyday and so far we are doing great!
    I love the ant adventure, what fun they are having.
    Thanks for sharing this on the outdoor play party!