Ant Tricks

Ant Tricks

Materials Needed:

  • 10 film canisters (or use small yogurt containers with lids)
  • large cotton balls
  • scent makers
  • vanilla flavoring
  • maple syrup
  • orange flavoring
  • peppermint flavoring
  • lemon flavoring


Make the smell canisters by placing the scent on the cotton ball. Then place the cotton ball at the bottom of the container. You’ll need to make two containers for each scent.

Background Information

When an ant finds food, it pushes its abdomen against the ground leaving a smell as it goes back to the ant colony. Then the other ants can follow the smelly trail to gather the food. Ants have a great sense of smell! They smell with their antenna.


Ask the children to pretend to be ants. (It’s fun to wear ant antenna headbands during this activity.) The children then need to smell each canister and match the two that are the same. Please be careful so that noses don’t touch the canister or the cotton!

Observing and baiting ants

If your site has ants that children can observe, place food bits, (cookie crumbs, candy, bits of tuna), near the spot where the ants have been seen. Place the food bits and then come back about an hour later. Ask the children to make observations. Which food did the ants like the most? Can they observe a line of ants following a scent trail to the food?

Activity provided by:

Fontenelle Forest
1111 N. Bellevue Blvd.
Bellevue, NE 68005

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Category: Group Activities

Iowa Early Learning Standards:
8.2, 9.1, 9.3, 9.4, 12.4, 12.5, 13.3, 14.3

Related Kindernature Resources: Other Resources: