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Activity: Make a Papier Mache Ant
Overview: Create a model of an ant using balloons and papier-mâché. Learn the parts of an ant, and observe that an ant’s body is symmetrical.
Objective: Learn about the parts of insects and insect symmetry using a model.
A papier mâché model of a fire ant. Image by Kathy Flanders.
- Long balloons
- White glue
- Warm water
- Bowls to mix water and glue in for papier-mâché
- Paint, red
- Chenille pipe cleaners, 8 for each ant
- Materials for ant eyes (buttons, clay, small Styrofoam balls cut in half, etc.)
|Fig.1. Water and glue solution for making a papier
mache ant. Image by Kathy Flanders.
Fig. 2. Papier mache ant. Image by Kathy Flanders.
- Blow up the balloon and tie the end. Do not blow it up too tight.
- Twist the balloon in two places to make the three body segments. Use string to tie the twisted parts. Emphasize the petiole area by using more string or a wider section of tape. You can use more than one balloon and tape them together.
- Cover the balloon with papier-mâché. To make papier-mâché, tear newspapers into strips about an inch wide and about 8 to 12 inches long. Mix two parts white glue with one part warm water. Dip the strips of paper into the bowl of water and glue mixture (Fig. 1.) one at a time and wrap the strips around the balloon form. Cover the entire balloon with at least three layers of paper strips to make it strong. (Fig. 2.)
- Let the ant dry completely (about 48 hours).
- When it’s dry, paint the body red.
- Use pipe cleaners for the legs, pushing them into the side of the thorax.
- Make the antenna from pipe cleaners, bending them as shown in the drawing.
- Glue the eyes onto the head.
- Paint the eyes.
- Think about the parts of an ant and name other insects that have similar parts. How could you make a model of another insect using this technique? What parts might need to be added? What parts would look different?
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