Ready? Set? Do the Waggle Dance!

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SWBAT will ask and answer questions about bees and pollination.

Big Idea

You can ask and then answer your own questions about bees and pollination. Then listen, watch and research to find your answers.

Teacher Notes

Activity Description:

The students will watch a wordless video about bees and then form 3 questions that they still have about bees.  Then the book The Honeybee Man (or an alternative book) will be read to the class.  The book offers a peek into the life of an urban beekeeper, the world of his bees and the magic of making honey.  As I am reading, the children will write down any answers that they found out to their own questions. After the book is read, discussion will center on the structure of the story--how the fiction story blends facts into the writing.  Then they will watch 2 super short videos and learn how to do a "waggle" dance.  As an assessment, they will write down all of the facts they learned about bees.  


NGSS/Common Core Connections:

In the NGSS, the children need to be able to design and develop a plant pollinator.  This lesson helps them understand the role of pollinators and the pollination process, which in turn, will help them develop a more effective pollinator.  In addition, they will also be asking and answering their own questions, which is an important part of the first step of any investigation.  After reading the book, the children will also be answering questions about the concepts in the text, such as who, what, where, when and why to demonstrate understanding of the text.  




10 minutes

 To begin this lesson, I have the students seated at their tables.  They record some questions and ideas, so they need a desk area to write on.

Bees are one of the most fascinating creatures on Earth!  The more I know, the more I wonder.  Is it the same for you?

The children shake their heads and a few raise their hands for some insightful comments.

 Scientists study all sorts of living things.  They know so much about the world around us, but they still have lots of questions.  Like I said earlier, it seems like to more you know, the more you wonder.  So I want us to be scientists today.  I would like you to really think deep about what you still wonder about bees.  To get your brain flowing, we are going to watch a video about bees.  The video doesn't have any words, so it will be easy for your brain to concentrate on watching the bees.  As you are watching the video, I want you to write down at least 3 things that you wonder about bees.  You are going to be writing down what you wonder about either as you are watching or I will give you a few minutes after the video.  You should write down the things you wonder about in this column (I point to the left side).

Students are not always engaged in a learning activity.  To be specific, I don't mean just listening, but have actively engaged their brain into the process of learning.  So I created this recording sheet, called Wonder Bees, to have them think deeply about what they wonder even after they have some knowledge of the subject, which is bees.   Then they will need to actively engage themselves to find out the answers to their wonderment.  Also, as part of the science goals, they will be asking and answering their own questions (see reflection).

To increase their curiosity, I first have them watch a beautiful wordless video about bees (3:47) and this quick one minute video.  Using a wordless video helps them really concentrate on the action in the video, which will in turn will render a more pure thought process for this task.

Now that you have watched the video, I bet you wonder even more about the bee.  If you have not done so already, I would like you to write down 3 things that you still wonder about.  Make sure you write down your questions in the correct column.  




20 minutes

Usually when I read a story we go back into the corner.  But since the children will be writing, they remain in their seats.  I hold up the book The Honey Bee Man.  We discuss structures of fiction stories- how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.  I also discuss how this is a fiction story, but real facts about bees are blended in to the story. 

Now we are going to listen to a story that contains lots of facts about bees.  I want you to listen very carefully to see if you can find out the answers to any of your questions.  If you do find an answer, follow the arrow to the other side and write your answer in that box.  

Then as I am reading, they stop and think about the answer to their questions.  It is very exciting for them to find the answers, not through someone telling them, but by discovering it all by themselves.  This also activates the brain to make connections.

 Take a close look again at the things you wondered about.  Were any of your questions answered by the information we just listened to?  If so, remember to follow the arrow and write your answers in that box.  If you did not find the answer, check the little box that says "I need keep researching  to find the answer."  

Then I ask questions about key details in the book.  Here are some questions just to get you started:

  • Who was the beekeeper?  Tell about his character. Fred (answers will vary about his character)
  • What did Fred do to keep the bees from stinging him when he got the honey? talked gently, puffed smoke
  • Where did the honey come from? everyone's plants in the neighborhood
  • When did Fred collect the honey? end of  August
  • Why do you think he kept bees if he lived in the city? He loved bees and wanted to keep them by where he lives.
  • How did he treat his bees?  How can you tell?  He treated the bees with respect; his kind actions towards them



10 minutes

To further explain the concepts they have learned, we watch 2 more short videos about bees.  These videos have words and/or narration.  They may find additional answers to add to their Wonder Bees Recording sheet.  If they do, have them write down the answers.

People wonder about things all of the time.  This is what guides scientific investigation and also leads to research to find the answers.  I still have some things that I wonder about bees.  I wonder how they get the pollen into the pollen sac.  Next time I read a book, I am going to investigate to find out the answer.  

How many of you wondered about how bees communicate or talk to each other?  That is another thing that I always wonder not only about bees, but other animals as well.  We are going to watch 2 more video clips about bees.  Let's see if we can figure out how they communicate.

 This video is very kid oriented and explains how bees make honey, which children still might be confused about.  This second video is short, only 2:18, but is so very fascinating.  Since the words are written and not spoken, I read the words.   It shows the bees doing their waggle dance.  My kids loved it so much, we watched it twice!

I collect their Wonder Bees paper.  When looking them over, I am looking to see if they can ask a relevant question and,  if they found an answer, that it correctly answers the question (see Wonder Bees sample and Wonder Bees sample 2).  Of course, we still need to work on capitals and spelling. :)


10 minutes

Then I re-explain and elaborate on how and why the bees do the waggle dance.  Then I have volunteers put on a very SIMPLE fun headpiece--an antennea made from two pipe cleaners wrapped around a headband.  

I ask the children to do the waggle dance.  I tell them where the flowers are and they have to do the waggle dance in that direction (Girl Doing Waggle Dance--video).  I feel anytime you do movement, it helps the children remember what it is that your are teaching.


5 minutes

I debrief the children about all of the exciting and new information that we found out.  Then I challenge the children to write down all of the facts that they learned about honey bees on the Honeybee Man Bee Fact Collector paper.  Click here for a student sample.

The children should at least have down 4 accurate facts about bees.  My kids were so excited about this, that every single student wrote down at least 4 facts plus more.  If they were not able to do this, I would work with them in a group to add to their knowledge.

As noted earlier, I also look over their Wonder Bees to see if they were able to from a good question and answer it, if possible.