BEEing a Bee!

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The SWBAT explain the pollination process in simple terms.

Big Idea

A bee is instrumental in pollination! The children will create a simple model of a bee and then mimic its function in plant pollination.

Teacher Notes

Activity Description

Your children will be buzzing with excitement for this activity!  The kiddos are learning and having fun at the same time.  First a book titled What is Pollination?  will be read to review the pollination process.   The teacher will demonstrate pollination on an artificial flower.  The children will make bees from pipe cleaners and perform their own pollination activity.  For review, the children will sing a song to help them remember the process. 



*What is Pollination? book by Bobbie Kalman

*Yo, I'm a Flower! Rap --1 per child

*Diagram of a flower with its parts from

*Diagram of pollination process from website

*Black and yellow pipe cleaners cut in half (one of each color per child)

*Live or artificial flowers with prominent stamens and stigma (such as daffodils or lilies) --1 per pair


NGSS and Common Core Connections

In the NGSS the students are learning about interdependent relationships in ecosystems.  This lesson focuses on how plants must depend on animals for pollination.  This cause and effect relationship is paramount for survival of the plant and the animal.  The children will also answer key details in the text to help support their learning.  Several photographs also help aide in their learning.  The children will be creating a simple model of a bee and pollinating so they understand what happens during pollination. In addition, for review the children learn a rap song.  This is a great opportunity to have them describe how words and phrases supply rhythm and meaning in a song.



5 minutes

I gather the students in the reading corner.  I try to relate today's lesson with a previous lesson.  

Remember when we visited the garden website yesterday?  We learned many things about pollination and the critters that help pollinate them.  Let's review what we learned.  Yesterday we learned that a flower depends on other animals to help it.  What do some animals do that help the flower?

Most of the children will probably be able to come up with the term pollination, but there still are many that need a review about the process.  

  It is the transfer of pollen from the male part of the flower called the stamen to the female part of the flower called the pistil.  This results in the fertilization of the plant and later the formation of a seed.

Even though I used the terms stamen, pistil, and fertilization, I do not expect the children to learn those terms.  However, I still like to use the correct terms so they at least become familiar with the terms so later down the road, when they hear them again, it might spark a connection. 

Today I am going to read a great book about pollination.  I hold up the cover of the book.  What type of book do you think this is?  What are some clues that help you to know that?  Let's browse through the book and see if we can find any more clues.

Whenever I read a book I try to have the children point out if it is informational or literary.  We always look for clues that guide us in our thinking.  The children have become experts for looking at things like a one-word title, photographs instead of pictures, table of contents, glossary, captions, charts, and maps.  We quickly look through the book and see if we can find any of these features.

Then I read the book "What is Pollination? By Kalman.  As I am reading I make sure to ask questions about key details in the text to help support their learning.  Stopping and thinking helps the children remember important details.  There are also several great photos in the books that help the children understand what the author is describing, such as a photo of a bee pollinating where you can see the pollen sac or another photo where you can point out the short tongue of the bee.  Using these images support additional content learning.


10 minutes

I show the students the parts of flower using a real lily flower.  The lily is a great flower to use since the pollinating parts are very prominent.  We look at the anthers that are covered with pollen and the longer part, which is the female part where the pollen must go down to make seeds.

I take out the black and yellow pipe cleaners that have been cut in half.  I pass out the supplies so each child has one black and one yellow pipecleaner.  I explain how to make the bees by twisting them together (Video of Children Making Bees).

To make a bee place the two pipe cleaners together, making sure two of the ends are even. Take those ends and make a tight twist to bind the two pipe cleaners together.  Then just twist until the two are one unit.  Once the entire thing is twisted,  fold it in half.  Twist the bottom ends together.  You should have a bee that looks like a small loop and a handle to hold the bee with.  

Then I have the kids explore the concept of honey bee pollination by having them perform their own pollination activity.  Even though we have read about it and discussed it, the biggest impact will be when they actually are the bee themselves and get to pollinate.  This helps get them closer to the standard of understanding that plants and animals really do depend on each other.

In the book we learned more about pollination.  Guess what?  You are going to have an opportunity to BEE a bee!  You will be working with a partner today.  I would like you to get out your Clock Buddies paper.  We are going to be working with our 6:00 partner today.  So find your 6:00 partner and sit by them.  BEE sure to take your bee with you!

Each partner group will have one flower to share.  I would like the person with the darkest hair to come up and get your lily.  

Your bee is going to go from flower to flower.  Remember the bee is going to the flower to drink nectar and collect pollen.  What does the bee unknowingly do when it is at a flower?  A child answer, "It is pollinating!"  I would like you to work with your partner to pollinate the flowers at your table.

Then I have the children practice pollination with their bees and the flowers (video of child Beeing a Bee).  I walk around the room and ask questions of my buzzing bees (Video--Getting the idea of pollination).  
I want to make sure that they understand the following concepts:
1.  The bees and flowers depend on each other.
2.  The bees unknowingly pick up pollen when they are visiting a flower.
3.  The bees go to the flower to drink nectar and to gather pollen.
4.  The pollen sticks to the legs and body of the bee and transfer it to the next flower when it falls off.
5.  Because of this, the flower is pollinated and now can make a seed or a fruit.


10 minutes

I have the children return the flower and go back to their seats.  I show the children the diagram of pollination process on this website. I explain how the pollen is transferred from flower to flower.

An insect receives pollen from the stamen of the first flower.  The pollen sticks to the hair on the bee’s body and legs.  The bee flies to another flower, where the pollen falls off onto this longer part, called the stigma, to complete the pollination.  Then a seed or fruit will form.

I explain the diagram, its parts and meaning. The diagram is a great way for the children to see the parts of the flower which aids it in pollination. 

Now it is your turn to explain the pollination process.  I would like you to work with your turn and talk partners.  Explain what pollination is to your partner.  

As they are explaining the process, I walk around and listen in.  I am listening for them to tell me three things:  That the bees goes there for food, pollen sticks to its body and legs, then it transfers it to the next flower.  Many times children tell me the bee is going to the flower to pollinate.  This is a common misconception.  The bees goes there to get food and unknowingly pollinates.   

Then we discuss the importance of pollination, from the bee's point of view.

  • 1.Bees go to flowers for nectar for their food supply.
  • 2.They need to pollinate to keep the number of flowers high so they can have lots of nectar for food
  • 3.Bees need the nectar from the flowers to eat during the winter when all the flowers are dead and they cannot survive out in the cold.
  • 4.  It is very important for the survival of most plants and animals that insects like bees keep up the pollination process.

This discussion is important so they can see that pollination not only helps the flower, but is also vital for the bee.  Again, this helps them understand the standard of how the bee is dependent on the flower, and the flower is dependent on the bee.



10 minutes

As a fun review of the pollination process, I teach the children a fun interactive poem called Yo, I'm a Flower Rap.  I pull it up on the Smartboard and I read it orally as the children follow along.  Then I read it again as the students read with me.  

We try to put a little bit of a beat to it. The children made up a few interesting motions.  The beat doesn't really matter as long as the children are saying the words.  I call this a rap, although I don't think we actually pulled it off.  See if you can do it better!  For fun, I divided the group into two and tried to have a friendly competition to see who could remember the words better.  (Video--Yo, I'm a Flower Rap).

This rap is fun, but it is also a great learning tool!  It reviews everything we just learned about pollination and the specific details.  Music is magical for learning.  It seems like anytime I put something to a tune, the children learn and remember it much better.  For more information on why I use songs and rhythm in the classroom, click here.

After we have sung it multiple times, I ask the children about the process of pollination. It's amazing how much they can now remember after BEEing a bee and singing a song!

Since this rap does rhyme and has meaning, you could do a mini-lesson on having the children describe how the regular beats supply rhythm and meaning. (RL.2.4)