Thursday, March 4

I Have Ants in My Pants by Julia Cook

Using children's literature in the classroom can be a powerful strategy to talk with students about difficult topics in a gentle, non-threatening, manner.  For example, children's literature can help you and the students talk about behavior problems that pop up in the classroom without calling children out.  It allows you to focus on a specific character's behavior in the book and analyze the behavior and the effects of that behavior.  It can also lead to discussions about what could the character have done differently and how your students can apply what they learned to their own lives.  

I Have Ants in My Pants by Julia Cook is a newly released children's book that would be a good book to read if you have wiggly and restless students in your class.  It's about a little boy Louis who has difficulty managing his body.  I Have Ants in My Pants depicts some of his behaviors in a lighthearted way, the effects of his behavior, and offers strategies for him to try.  Keep reading to learn more about I Have Ants in My Pants, what can cause children to feel restless, and for strategies you can use to help them.

Learn what causes students to feel restless and how to help them manage those feelings with the children's book I Have Ants in My Pants by Julia Cook. #kellysclassroomonline

Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.

Author Summary

In I Have Ants in My Pants, Julia Cook helps normalize the feeling many kids have when they struggle to control their wiggles and provides strategies for improving impulse control.  Some children just can't sit still no matter how hard they try.  And Louis is no exception.  He accidentally kicks his friend during storytime.  He can't stand still in the lunch line.  And he wiggles in his seat at the movie theater.  Everyone keeps telling him he has ants in his pants, but Louis doesn't see any ants!  Louis's mom explains that this means he wiggles a lot, and she teaches him a special tool, the Wiggle Dance.

Wiggle and jiggle.
Jump up and down.
Shake your hands
and turn around.

Take a deep breath.
Scrunch up your nose.
Wobble your knees
and wiggle your toes.

With a little practice and a few helpful tools, Louis learns that he can calm his wiggles and become the boss of the ants in his pants!

🍎 Author: Julia Cook
🍎 Illustrator: Carrie Hartman
🍎 Publisher: National Center for Youth Issues
🍎 Date: August 27, 2020
🍎 Pages: 32

Learn what causes students to feel restless and how to help them manage those feelings with the children's book I Have Ants in My Pants by Julia Cook. #kellysclassroomonline

What Causes the Wiggles?

Louis, the main character in I Have Ants in My Pants, has a serious case of wiggles.  He is a good boy, a nice boy, who wants to do the right thing... but the wiggles get the best of him.  Louis accidentally kicked one of his friends, tripped his principal, and annoyed the man near him in the movie theater.  We never find out what made Louis so wiggly, but we know he didn't do any of these things on purpose.  (It says so in the book.)

So... what are some of the things that cause children to feel restless and wiggly?
  • anxiety
  • nervousness
  • excitement
  • boredom
  • tiredness
  • fatigue
  • hunger
  • food sensitivity
  • pent up energy
  • not enough physical exercise
  • underlying health conditions
  • medication (too much, not enough, the wrong kind, side effects)
  • attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Learn what causes students to feel restless and how to help them manage those feelings with the children's book I Have Ants in My Pants by Julia Cook. #kellysclassroomonline

Important Reminder

In very few instances restlessness is the actual problem... it usually is a symptom of a much larger one. When you have a student who is chronically restless and wiggly, it's important to figure out why they are acting that way. Talk with Mom, Dad, or the caregiver about what's going on. Chances are your student isn't doing things on purpose or trying to cause problems.

Learn what causes students to feel restless and how to help them manage those feelings with the children's book I Have Ants in My Pants by Julia Cook. #kellysclassroomonline

How to Help Children Control Their Wiggles

Even though I Have Ants in My Pants is a children's book written with rhythm and rhyme, there are several strategies to help children control their wiggles included.  Kind of like a teaching tool disguised as a poem.  The strategies are logical, effective, and able to be implemented easily at home or at school.  They also work well with individual students and whole groups.  The strategies in the story include:
  • Getting the wiggles out before an activity when you have to sit and focus for an extended amount of time.  In I Have Ants in My Pants, Louis's mother teaches him the Wiggle Dance to help him release any pent-up energy before he has to still quietly.
  • Making sure you have room around you, so you can move without bumping someone.  Louis's mother called this a personal space bubble.  She created a personal space bubble for him by using a hula hoop for him to sit in.  
  • Using a fidget or sensory object.  Louis received a focus squishy from his mother.  She specifically tells him the squishy is a tool to help him focus...NOT a toy to be played with.  
Julia Cook included an additional list of nine strategies for parents and teachers at the end of the book.  Very helpful for new teachers or for people who need a quick reminder!

Learn what causes students to feel restless and how to help them manage those feelings with the children's book I Have Ants in My Pants by Julia Cook. #kellysclassroomonline

To learn more about I Have Ants in My Pants and Julia Cook's other children's books, please visit Julia Cook's website and watch her YouTube video below


I Have Ants in My Pants by Julia Cook was published by the National Center for Youth Issues (NCYI). The mission of NYCI is to provide educational resources, training, and support programs to foster the healthy social, emotional, and physical development of children and youth.  To learn more about NCYI, please visit their website.

National Center for Youth Issues (NCYI). The mission of NYCI is to provide educational resources, training, and support programs to foster the healthy social, emotional, and physical development of children and youth.


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