Science Storytime: Pollination

Fingerpuppet bee and flowerThe May flowers are blooming and I thought it would make a nice tie into pollination. There are many different picture book options to read about bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. I chose to talk only about bees during today’s session to keep a tighter focus on the conversation. Before reading the book we talked about what the children already knew about bees. They were very eager to share about stingers and personal experiences with bees. Pollination came up and we talked a bit about what they already knew about pollen and bees and how the two are connected. I was surprised by how much they already knew and in a fair amount of detail, though I suppose that these are all children whose parents are bringing them to a science-themed storytime, so it probably shouldn’t surprise me that such basics of biology have come up in their conversations in the past.

reaching into a bag of "pollen"After we read the book, which featured a large 3-D bee, we narrowed in on pollination. I saw on pinterest a great way to show the mechanics of how bees pollinate flowers unintentionally using cheese puffs. I found pictures of flowers and had my teen group cut them out and tape them to paper sacks that we had cut in half to make them shorter. To make it a little more exciting I also had my teen group make little finger-puppet bees.  I put cheese puffs in the bags and explained to the children that the cheese puffs represented pollen. I then dropped small flat glass beads taken from our mancala board into each bag to represent nectar. I handed out the fingerpuppet bees and told the children to fish around in each bag to collect nectar. Once they had all had a turn with at least two of the “flowers”, we stopped and looked at our hands. The original lesson had suggested rubbing the fingers on the white flowers on front of the bags, but I found that didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. However, the cheese dust was clearly evident on everyone’s fingers, so the lesson was still driven home. Even better, the pipe cleaner antennae that my teen group had placed on the fingerpuppet bees as antennae were completely covered in cheese dust, which perfectly connected to our previous discussion about bees having furry legs and the ways in which pollen attaches to those legs.

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