Mimi and the Grands

Educating Through Multiple Intelligences

Ants, Alligators and the Letter A

on October 17, 2016

The youngest grand, Tahoe, is four years old now, and has just one more year of “Mimi School” before he begins public school. He can already name all the uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet at the start of this “pre-school” year, so I am gearing his alphabet lessons to increasing his vocabulary, and learning the consonant sounds and short vowel sounds of the letters. In addition, the school year has begun for Tigger(8) and Kona (6). When they come home from school they already have homework, so I am not planning as many activities for them. I just try to fit in some enrichment activities with them as I can, mostly snuggling and reading books with them for their reading logs.

As always, I planned a variety of lessons in all eight intelligences. I try to do two intelligences per day with  Tahoe, one of them always a Linguistic activity. I made this an eight day unit because I had so many books I wanted to introduce and reread with the grands. I usually plan more activities than I can actually do with the grands, but I always do at least one activity from each intelligence with Tahoe. As you can see, many of these activities do not need a lot of materials or preparation, which is why I love using Multiple Intelligence activities with my grandsons rather than worksheets.

If you would like to see other activities for the short sound of A, you can view these posts that I wrote when Kona was four years old:




Linguistic (Word Smart)

Read and discuss books-I decided to focus on two themes for the letter A: ants and alligators. The science lab teacher at Tigger and Kona’s charter school has an ant farm in his classroom, so I knew they would especially be interested in learning more about ants. Here are the books I used  as part of the Letter “A” unit study:


ants-go-marching-bookThe Ants Go Marching edited by Ann Owen uses the familiar rhyming verse to the tune of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” in a beautifully illustrated book. Since Tahoe loves to sing, I sang the book to him and soon he was joining along. Academic Focus: Rhyming verse-At the end of each stanza I would discuss the rhyming words on the page with Tahoe. The older grands, Kona and Tigger, had to tell me the rhyming words on each page on their own and create other rhymes to add to the song.



amanda-and-her-alligator Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator by  Mo Willems is such a fun book about a young girl and her “alligator” who is no good at waiting for Amanda to come home and play with him. During the book, Amanda’s alligator puts on his thinking cap and learns how to plan a surprise on Amanda. He also makes a new friend. Academic Focus: Main Character Traits: I had Tahoe discuss what we learned about Amanda and her Alligator from what the characters say and do in the book. For Kona and Tigger, I discussed the Table of Contents and how titles of books  are printed with italicized lettering (since Amanda reads library books in this story).


zacks-alligatorZack’s Alligator and the First Snow by Shirley Mozelle tells the story of Zack and his alligator key chain, named Bridget, who have some adventures when Zack’s parents take the family outside to do some ice fishing one snowy day. Since Bridget is from the Everglades, she has never experienced snow before and loves making a snowman, sledding, and eating fish from the ice fishing hole in the lake. Academic Focus: Sequencing: This is a good book to use to practice the order of events with all three of the grands.




a-bookBerenstains’ A Book by Stan and Jan Berenstain is a terrific book for learning about words that begin with the letter “A” but also just right for beginning readers. So using this book has exposed Tahoe to many words that begin with “A” and good practice for first grader Kona as a beginning  reader. Academic Focus: Alliteration-Because most of the words in this book begin with the same sound, it is a great way to introduce alliteration to the grands. Vocabulary-This book also helps Tahoe develop new vocabulary such as angleworm and avenue.



grasshopper-and-the-antsThe Grasshopper and the Ants by Jerry Pinkney tells the classic story of the hardworking ants and their grasshopper friend who learns a very hard lesson. This has the most amazing illustrations! Tahoe and I spent a lot of time with this books just looking at the pictures and all the details in these illustrations. This is a great book to help Tahoe understand the four seasons as well since they are so vividly pictured on the pages. Academic Focus: Main Idea and Details-With Tahoe I modeled how I could decide the main idea of the book and he helped me find the details.  I used this with Kona and Tigger to review how to discover the main idea by using events in the story.




ants-valerie-bodden-hardcover-cover-artAnts (Creepy Creatures series) by Valerie Bodden has the most amazing photographs of different types of ants, their colonies, and predators. Tahoe was fascinated that ants came in different colors and worked together to move larger pieces of food (such as a mushroom). Academic Focus: Vocabulary-This is a great book to develop vocabulary words such as larvae, pupa, predator, and anteater with the grands. Text features-There is also a Table of Contents and Glossary in this book.



alligator-animal-superpowersAlligator (Animal Superpowers) by Josh Plattner is another short book with wonderful photographs of alligators, their bony plates (called scutes), and their powerful jaws. Academic Focus: Vocabulary-Reptiles, endangered, and marsh are just some of the words I discussed with Tahoe. With Kona and Tigger I used the True or False quiz at the end of the book to recall details from the book.




Audio books: Since I have the grands in the car for about an hour each afternoon to pick up the oldest from school, I try to find audio books from the local library to play in the car to go along with my lessons. The book Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator, which was discussed above, also came with an audio cd so Tahoe and I could listen to it and follow along in the book.

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart)

Counting activities: Using the book The Ants Go Marching, I had Tigger and Kona work on their skip counting and multiplication using the pictures in the book. In the book about alligators, we learned that they lay between 35 to 50 eggs, so I had Tahoe practice counting up to 50 using legos as the alligator eggs. (He can count up to 39 really well so far, but keeps forgetting that 40 is after 39.)

Measuring:  In Alligator (Animal Superpowers) we learned that alligator hatchlings were 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) long, so I had Tahoe use a ruler to measure 6 inches on a piece of paper. I had Tigger and Kona measure 15 and 20 cm since they should begin understanding the metric system.

   Interpersonal (People Smart)

Dramatic play: I will encourage Tahoe to use the “A” words we have learned during his dramatic play with his brothers. A possible idea for a story starter might be, “An ant was trying to move a piece of apple she found laying on the ground. Since ants work together, she knew she could count on the other ants to help.”

Acts Go Marching: We will act out part of the song “The Ants Go Marching” with the family. (We may not get all the way to “ten ants” unless we incorporate some stuffed animals  in our rows of marching ants.)

Bodily-Kinesthetic (Body Smart)

Acrobatics: Tahoe is taking a gymnastics class, so I explained that acrobats use some of those same skills as I had him practice somersaults and jumping on his mini trampoline.

Cooking: Ants on a Log with Variations- I had all the boys create their own “ants on a log” snack by offering them cut celery, choices of peanut butter, cream cheese, or hummus for the “insides” of the log, and choices of raisins, craisins, and peas for the “ants” on the log. This is a great way to get the grands to eat healthy foods while giving them some “cooking” skills. I found some of my ideas for the “ants on a log” variations on this website:



Pantomimes: Tahoe and I practiced several “A” words that are easy to pantomime such as: ants, acrobats, actor, add, ambulance, and astronauts. Tahoe will show them to his brothers and have them guess the word he is pantomiming.

Musical Intelligence (Music Smart)

Finger plays and songs: Tahoe loved singing “The Ants Go Marching” as we read the book (multiple times.) I found songs about alligators at this website to use with Tahoe:


Classical Music Fun: I found a website that featured “A Walt Disney Silly Symphony – The Grasshopper and the Ants” and showed the video to the grands.


 Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart)

Craft: A is for Ant: After reading the books about ants so that Tahoe knew that ants had three body parts and six legs, I cut out three lowercase “a” letters which Tahoe glued down for the ant’s body. He cut out the six legs himself and glued them onto the ant. Then he found some “googly eyes” in his mom’s craft supplies, along with some foam letters. He glued all of these onto the project to complete it. 




20160926_111127Craft: A is for Alligator: I showed Tahoe an art project from another website and he adapted it to create an alligator from a capital letter “A.” I cut out the green capital “A” for him, and drew some large teeth and ovals (for the eyes) on some white paper. He cut out and pasted the teeth and eyes. Then he decided he needed more teeth and drew triangles on the leftover white paper and cut them out. Tahoe also added the “googly eyes” (one of his favorite craft supplies at the moment) and foam letters. Here is the website that inspired Tahoe’s alligator project:




Videos: I am always able to find lots of short videos on the Internet that teach the sound of the letter I am teaching the grands. We also found short, educational videos on ants and alligators. 

Naturalist Intelligence (Nature Smart)

Field trips:We don’t live in an area where one can see real alligators (other than at the zoo), but ants are found in lots of places. On a trip to a local park to play, Kona was fascinated with the ants he found and tried to discover whether they lived in the trees or underground. 

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt- We made a list of “A” words that could be found in nature and took a walk around our neighborhood or local apple farm to find as many as we could. Here is a partial list: ants, acorns, apples, animals, aquatic center, and avocados.

 Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart)

Independent reading: The grands love to look over the books we have previously read throughout this unit of study on their own time.

Favorites: I asked the grands which of the books from our book study were their favorites. Tahoe’s favorite was The Ants Go Marching while Kona preferred Zack’s Alligator and the First Snow.



I hope you are finding these Multiple Intelligence activities useful as you plan lessons for children in your care. If you would like to see more of these unit studies as I create them, you can become a follower of this blog.


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3 responses to “Ants, Alligators and the Letter A

  1. Fun ideas! You are so creative with your grandchildren. It’s wonderful! Ants on a log made with cream cheese sound especially tasty, too 😊

    Amy @ http://www.livinglifetruth.com


  2. rawsonjl says:

    Such cute ideas!


  3. Jolanthe says:

    Love the activities – thanks so much for sharing! 🙂 The ant alphabet craft is all cuteness!


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