Activity: Make An Ant

Imported Fire Ants March 25, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

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Activity: Make a Papier Mache Ant

This is the teacher version of Activity: Make An Ant hands on exercise. It is designed to teach students how to make a papier-mâché ant. This could be used in the classroom or for a youth's science fair project.

A papier mâché model of a fire ant.
Image by Kathy Flanders.


Students will create a model of an ant using balloons and papier-mâché. They will learn the parts of an ant and that an ant’s body is symmetrical.


Students will learn about the parts of insects and insect symmetry using a model.

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) (other states may have similar systems)

3rd grade: 3.1.b, 3.9.a
4th grade: 4.3.c, 4.6.c, 4.8.a, 4.8.b
5th grade: 5.3.c, 5.9.a, 5.9.b, 5.9.c


  • Long balloons, one for each student
  • String
  • White glue
  • Warm water
  • Bowls to mix water and glue in for papier-mâché
  • Paint, red
  • Pipe cleaners, 8 for each student
  • Newspapers
  • Materials for ant eyes (buttons, clay, small Styrofoam balls cut in half, etc.), one set for each student
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.


  1. Blow up the balloon and tie the end. Do not blow it up too tight.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 glue with one part warm water. (The mixture should be the consistency of wallpaper paste.) Dip the strips of paper into the bowl of water and glue mixture 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.
  4. Let the ant dry completely (about 48 hours).
  5. When it’s dry, paint the body red.
  6. Use pipe cleaners for the legs, pushing them into the side of the thorax.
  7. Make the antenna from pipe cleaners, bending them as shown in the drawing.
  8. Glue the eyes onto the head, and then paint the eyes.


  • Have the students discuss the parts of an ant and name other insects that have similar parts.
  • Discuss the other insects and how they could make a model using this technique.
  • What parts might need to be added?
  • What parts would look different?

Note to teachers: You may want to refer to the KIDzANTS Teacher Manual, which is from the original release of KIDzANTS made by Texas AgriLife Extension.

Alabama Master Gardener volunteers made some of these ants, then used them for a fire ant education exhibit at a petting zoo. Image by Rachel Dykes.


The fire ant eXtension youth team would love some feedback from your experience. Please contact Paul Nester ( with questions, comments, testimonials, and particularly images of your students' accomplishments and the students engaging in this activity. If you send images that include students, please be sure that parental approval has been given to use the image. Most schools routinely have parents sign a photographic release form. If you are unsure whether a permission form has been completed, you can use this form and send it along with the image: Photography Release Form