Reading Together

Storybook Guide Based on Mara Rockliff’s “Next to an Ant”

Explore math while reading and talking about this storybook.

Topic:

Activity Summary

Use this storybook guide with the book “Next to an Ant.” Many public libraries have this book.

Reading guide

About the Story

This story compares objects of different heights. For example, a berry is taller than an ant and a snail is taller than a berry. Each new object is taller than the one before it, until the tallest one of all appears on the last page.

A snail sits next to a berry in the grass. Illustration from “Next to an Ant.”

Words to Learn

SIZE WORDS
tall, taller, tallest, short, shorter

OTHER WORDS
berry, snail, mouse, shoe, cup, ball, basket, puppy, brother

About the Math

Next to an Ant is about size relationships. In the
story, your child can learn:

  • To notice and talk about the size of objects using words such as tall and short.
  • That objects can be compared to find out which one is taller and which is shorter.
  • How objects can at the same time be both shorter than some things and taller than others. For example, the cup is taller than the shoe but shorter than the ball. Young children may find this idea hard to understand.
  • To guess what object might show up next in the story because it is taller than the object on the current page.
A boy plays with a puppy. Illustration from “Next to an Ant.”

Math Talk During Reading

  • COMPARE THE SIZE OF OBJECTS IN THE PICTURES
    Which one is taller, the puppy or the brother Which one is shorter, the snail or the mouse Can you think of something taller than the girl?
  • EXPLORE OTHER WAYS TO TALK ABOUT THE OBJECTS’ SIZES
    The basket is taller than the ball, but it’s also wider than the ball. Can you think of something wider than the basket?
  • MAKE A PREDICTION ABOUT WHAT OBJECT MIGHT APPEAR NEXT IN THE STORY
    What do you think we’ll see on the next page? Let’s think of something taller than a snail.
  • TALK ABOUT DISTANCE
    The parents in the background seem small. If they were closer, would they be taller or shorter than the girl?

Try to come up with some of your own questions and comments, too!

Activity After Reading

  • GO ON A SCAVENGER HUNT FOR OBJECTS OF VARIOUS SIZES AROUND YOUR HOME.
    For example, tell your child to find an object taller than a box of cereal, an object longer than a spoon, and an object shorter than a chair.
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