Ant farms have come a long way since their initial popularity in the 1950s. The first ant farms consisted of two pieces of glass or plastic, between which was a layer of sand. Ants busily tunneled through the sand, visible on both sides, and provided the viewer with an interesting perspective on ant life and society.
Today, there's a lot more variety; you can still get the original style, but now there are also farms with nutrient gel instead of sand, and 3-D setups instead of flat. Ant farm maintenance includes removing old food and debris, regular feedings (usually other insects, plus a honey mixture), and fresh water. Younger kids will definitely need parental assistance, but many ant farmers consider that a small price to pay for an in-home nature show.