One Hundred Hungry Ants

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This is an activity based on the picture book One Hundred Hungry Ants.

Achievement Objectives
NA2-1: Use simple additive strategies with whole numbers and fractions.
NA2-7: Generalise that whole numbers can be partitioned in many ways.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  • Students will be able to model a whole number as an array created from a set of equal groups.
  • Students will be able to express the arrays they create as additive statements or multiplication statements.
Description of Mathematics

There are several ways to partition some sets into equal groups (factors).

The shape of the array created by equal groups changes even though the total number within the set stays the same (commutative principle).

Required Resource Materials
  • One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinczes.
  • 100 unifix blocks.

On the March!
This activity is based on the picture book: One Hundred Hungry Ants.

Author: Elinor J. Pinczes
Illustrator: Bonnie MacKain
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (1993)
ISBN: 0-395-97123-3

A group of 100 ants heads out to get their share of a picnic and go through various configurations to try and cut down the amount of time it takes to reach their goal by changing the array within which they march. They start off with 1 row of 100 and then try 2 rows of 50 and so on until they get to 10 rows of 10 only to find they’ve spent so much time getting arranged, they’ve missed the prize!

Lesson Sequence:

  1. Prior to reading, explore some arrays around the classroom, such as the abacus, window panes, an egg carton etc. Discuss and agree on the criteria for an array (equal number in each row or column, no leftovers).
  2. Share the book with your students. Discuss the title and ask them to help you count out 100 unifix blocks into a pile. Explain that this set will be the 100 ants in the story. As you read stop at each place where the ants are shown in their marching order and ask how the blocks need to be changed to match the story. Ask someone to record on the board or in a modeling book what each new array looks like in a number statement. For example: 100 = 1 x 100; 100 = 2 x 50 or 100= 50 + 50 etc. Take a photo of each new array to be added to the modeling book later or create a slideshow as you go.
  3. After reading, review all the marching arrays the ants used.
    Ask: Are there any other ways they could have marched in an array?
  4. Give pairs of students, different numbers of blocks to experiment with making arrays and recording the different ones they create. Choose numbers with several factors so that they find several different arrays.
  5. On another day, students can write their own versions of the story with different numbers and creatures. They can record all the ways the creatures could reach the target food: Twenty Tuatara, or Forty Fantails or Thirty Thirsty Taniwha, or A Dozen Dinosaurs.
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Level Two