Two Bad Ants has to be one of the best mentor texts for upper elementary students. If you’re a classroom teacher, having grab and go lessons that will not fail are a MUST! In this post, I’ll give you a sneak peek at a resource bundle I’ve put together to go with Two Bad Ants. No matter what, I know you’ll love what you see.
building interest in two bad ants:
With all of my units, I begin with a schema builder to give background knowledge, to build excitement, and to hook my students. With this unit, I used an alphablocks activity where students brainstorm words related to ants. They will likely come up with insect, antennae, body, colony, and a few others. Of course, as the students listen to or read the story, they can add other words too.
Next, I introduce the story vocabulary. Chris Van Allsburg is a master at using rich vocabulary, and this book works well for context clues too. Certainly, you’ll find lots of examples to practice as you read the book together.
Once the stage is set, then the next step is to introduce comprehension skills you plan to practice during reading.
How to Model Skills with Mentor Texts:
If you wish to use Two Bad Ants as a read aloud, I included several comprehension skill options. One skill may work better than another in your teaching timeline, but here’s a list you might consider:
- Analyzing the Story Elements
- Character Change
- Making Inferences
- Sequencing Events
- Author’s Craft
- Text Evidence
- Point of View
With Chris Van Allsburg’s wonderful illustrations and description, this book is ideal for making inferences. You can read the examples and see if students can figure out from the clues what’s being described from the ant’s point of view or perspective. Of course, it’d be lots of fun for your students to write their own descriptions too.
Another skill to model is character change. In the beginning, the two ants are eager to locate more of the beautiful crystals for the queen, but their enthusiasm does not last. Why? What changes?
Finally, I think this book is a great exemplar for author’s craft. I would suggest having your students use sticky notes to mark interesting examples that they can use in their own pieces.
How to Use Two Bad Ants for Writing
Once you’ve worked with your students on the comprehension segment, you can use the book for extension. I always include a writing piece with my units because our students really need practice. Writing instruction does take time, but I look at it as an opportunity to reinforce all of the other literacy skills; spelling, grammar, vocabulary, paragraph formation, and even comprehension skills such as plot development or nonfiction text features if you’re doing research.
With this piece, students write a sequel or their own version of the Two Bad Ants. The first organizer helps them plan where the ants go and describing words that could be used for the new locations. Once students have their brainstorming done, the next step is always to develop a strong plan. It can make the difference on whether the story makes sense or not.
Process writing is really important for students. They need to see how their writing evolves from the rough draft to publication. I used to tell my students that the most important stage of writing is revising. No matter how done a student feels they are, there is always room for revisions. However, truly, each stage is important. We never know who we will inspire to become the next Maya Angelou or Patricia Polacco. Regardless of whether a students wants to be an author or not, they all need solid writing skills.
After your students complete their work, I would suggest compiling them into a class book. My students really enjoyed revisiting each other’s pieces long after the unit ended. I suggest keeping your class books in a basket where both parents and students can read them. It makes your kids proud.
Final Notes about Two Bad Ants:
Like all of my book companion units, this bundle is written in a before, during, and after format. It also comes in PDF and prepped for Google Slides TM. After the past two years, I know how important having both options is. My goal is to keep working on my resources until they ALL have that option. It may take a while with over 500 to do, but baby steps, right??
If you have any questions regarding this unit, you are always welcome to reach out to let me know. It is available using the link to the right or HERE in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Discussion Questions You might Use:
- What is the problem in Two Bad Ants?
- Whose point of view is used in Two Bad Ants?
- Why do you think the ants made the choices they did?
- If you were one of the two bad ants, how would you have avoided the dangers they faced?
Links to other book companion posts:
- 5 SIMPLE LESSON IDEAS FEATURING BEAR SNORES ON
- HOW TO TEACH THEME WITH EACH KINDNESS
- HOW TO MAKE INFERENCES WITH JUST A DREAM
- HOW TO MODEL CHARACTER CHANGE WITH THE HULA-HOOPIN QUEEN
Chris Van Allsburg truly is one of the best writers for upper elementary, and I really hope you are able to work his books into your lessons. I promise you will not regret it.