Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Ants in Your Pants

Diana Dome
Palm Beach County Schools


Students investigate different ways numbers can be expressed as a sum and use a chart to record and analyze their findings. The use of children's literature, hands-on manipulatives, and the Internet are incorporated.


The student adds and subtracts whole numbers to solve real-world problems, using appropriate methods of computing, such as objects, mental mathematics, paper and pencil, calculator.

The student displays solutions to problems by generating, collecting, organizing, and analyzing data using simple graphs and charts.


-Pinczes, Elinor. [One Hundred Hungry Ants.] Houghton, 1993. ISBN 0-395-63116-5
One hundred ants are rushing off to a picnic. Unfortunately, there's one ant who insists on regrouping them.
-Murphy, Stuart. [The Best Vacation Ever.] Harper Collins, 1997. ISBN 0-06-026767-4
A family is trying to plan a vacation, to find out where they should go they make charts to see where the best location would be for them.
-Pants for each group of students.
-20 laminated ants for each group of students.
-Computers for each pair of students.
-Link on the computers to the math games.
-Charts for each group.


1. Prior to the lesson have the computers setup with the Websites bookmarked.
2. Have a chart example to show students and have sufficient copies of a blank chart for each group. Have the book available {The Best Vacation Ever], which describes one use for a chart.
3. Have laminated copies of ants and pants for each group. This will depend on how many students you have in your class and how many different multiples you would like to work with.
4. Have the book [One Hundred Hungry Ants] by Elinor J. Pinczes available along with what questions you are going to ask the class about the book.
5. Clear a space on the wall to hang the charts that the students created.


**Prior to the lesson have the computers set up with the Websites bookmarked for easy student access.

1. Begin by reading the children's literature book by Pinczes Elinor, [One Hundred Hungry Ants.] The story tells of the life of one hundred ants that are rushing off to a picnic; unfortunately, there's one ant who insists on regrouping them. After reading the book, ask students if they could imagine being at the picnic watching the ants. What would they be doing? How would they be grouping themselves? When they change groups do the total number of ants change?

2. At this time group the students into pairs and have them go to the computers. There should be enough computers for pairs to work on. Advise the students to click on the appropriate link on the screen to get them to the addition Website. Advise the students exactly where to go on this site. There is a section for inputting the correct number answer, time is given, as well as the number of correct/incorrect answers. Allow approximately 10 minutes for each pair at the computer.

3. Advise students to go back to their seats. As a class discuss what the students found out while working on the computer. Ask them if they found any patterns, or realized anything else while adding or grouping the numbers.

4. Once this discussion is complete, advise students that they will be acting as detectives, which means they have to pay close attention. While on their detective jobs they will have to find and record on a chart all of the possible combinations of ten ants. At this time each group of students will get 10 laminated ants to use as manipulatives along with a laminated pair of pants. (You may choose to have the students cut out the ants and place them in envelopes prior to this lesson.) The students also get charts to record their findings on. The groups consist of 4 students each. One student will be the recorder, one the reporter, one the timekeeper, and one the encourager.

5. If your class has not worked with charts yet, a book to introduce this is [The Best Vacation Ever] by Stuart J. Murphy. By a girl making a chart on different aspects of where her family would like to go on vacation, she concludes the outcome.

6. Begin by asking the students to place 5 ants on one leg of the pants and 5 ants on the other leg. Ask the groups to find and record all of the possible combinations for the sum of 10. Show them the example on the chart. Ask them if they can put the ants on the pants a different way and still end up with the answer 10. Ask the groups to find one combination while you circulate and check their work. When all groups are successful, ask them to continue finding combinations to equal 10. They will have about 5 minutes for this. Ask: How many different arrangements or ways can you find? Have the recorder write down their findings on the chart. Encourage the students to find patterns that emerge by asking, how do you know if you found all possible arrangements of 10? An example of this would be the first number goes down or gets smaller by 1, the second number increases or gets bigger by 1, and we still have 10 ants. 5+5=10, 4+6=10, 3+7=10, 2+8=10, 1+9=10.

7. Still in their groups, have the students predict the number of possible arrangements for different amounts of ants. Ask students if they think the larger numbers have more combinations than the smaller numbers. Ask: How can we find out? Suggest: Letís try with 11 ants. Give each group 10 more ants at this time. Advise them to record their answers on the chart for 11 ants. 6+5=11, 5+6=11, 4+7=11, 3+8=11, 2+9=11, 1+10=11. Now they should notice that there are 6 different combinations for the sum of 11, however two of the combinations are similar. Ask how they are similar; what do they have in common? Can this really count as 6 different ways or is it still 5? Continue this process through 20 ants. Again, ask what they noticed. Continue discussion until it is evident that they understand the different ways to get a sum of one number.

8. Relate this back to the story of [One Hundred Hungry Ants] and the discussion at the beginning of class. All one hundred ants were still there even though they were in a different formations (combinations.

9. Display the charts the students made and ask questions such as: how many different ways did you find? Are any charts alike? Why could this be? Can looking at charts help us gather information? How?


The lesson offers opportunities for several forms of formative assessment. The students are assessed in a variety of ways:
1. Questions and answers after reading the children's literature book should be formatively assessed.
2. Charts are collected to evaluate a correct listing of all of the mathematical addition problems for 10. If you choose to use a different sum, it would be the listing for that particular number.
3. Students are assessed through teacher observation while watching students work with manipulatives.
4. Instant feedback is provided by games at Weblink sites.
5. Formatively assess students as they answer the questions about the charts.
6. Once you feel students are sufficient in being able to list the problems for a specific number, individually assess them by asking them to list all the possible addition (subtraction, etc.) combinations for a specific number.


The ants can also be used for subtraction problems. Start out again at 10 ants and have the students see what different combinations they can come up with. Let the students discuss their problem solving strategies.

The ants can also be used for estimation problems. Give the students different size ants. Ask them how many big ants will cover the pants, how many small ants? Once they estimate, have them find out the actual answer. This could be the start to an estimation lesson which could continue by asking how many small or big ants could cover the bulletin board, the wall, ceiling, floor, etc.

ESOL strategies used include: using manipulatives such as the books, ants, and pants; encouraging the children to think aloud while trying to solve the problems; having the children give oral explanations of what and how they were thinking; grouping students heterogeneously during their computer and manipulative work; and using technology while the students were playing the math games.

Web Links

Students can input answers to basic arithmetic problems and see how many they got correct or incorrect while being timed. This reinforces the sum of numbers.
Basic Math Practice

This site allows students to count using pictures of robots, stars, girls, fish, etc. while keeping their scores.
More Counting

Attached Files

Templates     File Extension: pdf

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