Persuading with Research: A Writing Lesson based on Hey, Little Ant

Reading Hey, Little Ant with kids is a great way to practice writing to persuade. I also believe that it is important to be informed when we make decisions. Research can strengthen a persuasive argument. This lesson, based on the story Hey, Little Ant, helps students learn the strength of persuading through research.

We use the book Hey, Little Ant along with research about ants to write persuasive letters to the kid in the story. Should the kids step on the ant or not?

Discussing Hey, Little Ant

Hey Little Ant! by Phillip and Hannah Hoose is a rhyming picture book with dialog between a kid and an ant. The kid almost steps on an ant, and the ant responds with reasons he should not be stepped on. The story was originally a song written by the father/daughter team. Listen to it at

What should the kid do? The book clearly sets up the reader for a discussion about the pros and cons of stepping on the ant. It can be used to discuss bullying and the need for greater compassion and tolerance. Just because everyone is stepping on ants does not make it alright!

The students can find the reasons given by both parties, as indicated in the book. Whose argument seems stronger?

Persuading with Research

The two writing prompts included in my lesson build on those possibilities. First, the students write a basic persuasive letter to the kid, either for or against stepping on the ant. First they brainstorm: should the kid step on the ant? Why or why not?  What reasons have been given in the picture book? The second page provides sentence frames to help make the reasons into a letter to the kid.

Then, using similar strategies outlined in yesterday’s lesson, students gather facts about ants, keep track of resources references, and make a nonfiction booklet about ants.

Finally, now that the students have learned more about the subject, they can better persuade in their letter to the kid. They return to their original persuasive writing and decide if their mind has been changed. By adding in the research they have discovered, they can make their argument stronger.

There are so many issues that can be explored this way. Students (or a class) would choose a subject of interest to the. Begin by brainstorming the reasons for or against. Then, conduct some basic research to become armed with facts. Once the student understands the facts, he or she can make a stronger persuasive argument!

We learned to make a stronger persuasive argument by conducting basic research.

Download the Lesson

Once again, I’ve put together some simple worksheets to go along with the process I describe above. It does have a small cost. Download it from my shop, TeachersPayTeachers, or Teacher’s Notebook.

This is the last in a 5-day series of Picture Book Writing Prompts for Elementary Students. See my landing page for links to more posts and ideas like this one!Picture books are not just for little kids. Big kids may be inspired by the language, stories, and characters in picture books. Check out these writing prompts for ideas on using picture books with older elementary-aged kids.

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