For our intergenerational gardening feature, Molly Brown, one of the creators of Roots and Shoots, has generously allowed us to share one of the lessons from the program’s K-5 curriculum. We've adapted this second grade lesson titled Bees, Flowers, and Pollination to give you a taste. Learn more about Roots and Shoots
1. understanding of the relationship between bees and flowers
2. learning about pollination
3. learning about the bee as the Bug of the Week
4. understanding how to make a flower arrangement
5. creating your own flower arrangement
Volunteer Lesson Plans
Easel with newsprint/markers or a blackboard
Draw a picture of flower parts
Compost flannel board
The Reason for a Flower by Ruth Heller (reference book to show pictures)
Poster of Bug Interview questions
Group Activity Supplies:
Flower parts sheet (attached below) per student
Flower to dissect per student
Magnifying glass per student
Scissors per student
Decorated can with wet florist’s foam per each student
Pens and pencils
Song sheet and tape – Mother Earth’s Routine
Bug of the Week – The Honeybee
The volunteer/teacher can explain the partnership between bees and flowers, and also tell about the way bees live in social communities.
Bees and flowers are important partners; they need each other. The bees need food from the flower and the flower needs to make seeds with the bees’ help.
Bees are like us; they live and work in communities. They are skilled builders and model housekeepers. They are social insects living in hives with many cells or little rooms for different uses. There are also many kinds of jobs to be done in the colony; females are the workers who are also the builders, nurses, food gatherers, and maids. The workers also make the wax for the cells, clean the cells, make the food, and even keep the hive cool by making wind with their wings. Young female bees are house bees and later they become field bees who look for flowers and bring back nectar to the hive.
There is one queen who lays all the eggs in the hive; she can lay 1500 eggs a day. The male bees are called drones; their job is to mate with the queen.
Bees are important to us: we use their wax for candles and lipstick, we like to eat their honey. Can you thank a bee today for the food you eat? Why?
Their body parts include antennae (to smell), eyes (to see colors), four wings, six legs, abdomen, and a stinger.
A bee has enemies: bears, praying mantis, other bees, ants, toads, and birds. They defend themselves with their stingers. Yellow and black colors on the bee are “Warning Colors” to enemies.
Let’s interview the bee (use a bee puppet if possible):
1. How do you eat?
Bees are suckers, using a feeding tube in their mouths to get the sweet liquid called nectar from the flower to make honey.
2. What do you eat?
Bees eat both the flower nectar and the flower pollen which is a yellow grain powder. They carry the nectar back in their honey stomach (they have two stomachs). They carry the pollen back in two shopping bags on their back legs. The nectar and pollen are mixed for food. Extra food is stored in wax cells and is called honey in a honeycomb.
3. Where do you live?
Bees live in hives nests, man-made bee boxes, on trees, in houses, everywhere.
4. How do you travel?
Bees walk, and they fly with two pairs of wings. They tell other bees where to find food by dancing as a language. They make a “bee line” to the flowers and home again.
5. When are you awake?
Bees are awake during the daytime and have good eyes to see the sun, trees, flowers. They feel with their antennae.
6. How do you reproduce?
The queen lays eggs in the cells. The female bees care for the nurseries (cells). The eggs hatch into larvae, then develop pupae, and finally become adults. The queen mates with the drones outside the hive.
Flower Parts and Pollination
The volunteer/teacher will explain this to the students using a diagram of a flower and its parts on an easel or blackboard.
A flower is a seed factory. A flower and a bee have a strong, vital connection with each other. Without this connection the flower cannot manufacture seeds and bee would not have food. We would not have any food, either. The bee pollinates the flower. How does this work?
Let’s look at the parts of a flower first. On the diagram we can see petals (landing platforms for bees) and sepals (which protect flower buds before they open). The female parts are the pistil and ovaries. The male parts are the stamens and pollen (sperm cells).
What is pollination? This is the transfer of pollen from the male to the female parts of the flower. When a pollen grain lands on the pistil the sperm cells travel down to the ovary and join with egg cells to complete fertilization. The new cell will become the seed surrounded by a fruit ovary.
Who are the pollinators? A pollinator is anything that helps carry flower pollen to the pistil. These include bees, wasps, moths, wind, birds, butterflies, bats, and flies. (The volunteer/teacher can show pictures of the pollinators from the book The Reason for a Flower by Ruth Heller.)
Flowers can advertise for pollinators with their fragrances, markings on petals, colors, nectar, and even landing platforms (e.g., iris flower).
Poem of the Week:
“Honeybees” by Paul Fleischman (Microsoft Word document attached below)
Dissecting Flower Parts and Learning the Art of Flower Arranging
Suggest that the older volunteers bring in flowers from their gardens and in small groups help students with flower dissection and arrangement.
A volunteer/teacher will explain the art of flower arranging according to the Japanese tradition called Ikebana. In this arrangement there are three heights of flowers, leaves, and/or sticks. From tallest to shortest, they symbolize Heaven, Man, and Earth. It is a suggestion students might want to follow for their own arrangements.
Before they make their flower arrangements in their groups, first dissect a flower. Each student will have his/her own flower to dissect, using a magnifying glass to see its parts. Each student will have a Flower Parts Diagram (PDF attached below).
For the flower arrangements each student will have a small can (tuna fish or cat food can) decorated with a ribbon and filled with damp florist’s foam. Each student will have a pair of scissors, and there will be a collection of spring flowers for each group to use. The flower arrangements are taken home to families (to mothers if it’s near Mother’s Day).
A Garden Song – Mother Earth’s Routine
[Editor's Note: Sources for music mentioned in the lessons are included in the curriculum appendix.]
Each student will have a song sheet and the tape will be played.
The Flower by Chris Baines, Crocodile Books, Interlink Publishers, 1990
The Reason for a Flower by Ruth Heller, Grosset and Dunlap, 1983
Flowers and What They Are by Mary Elting, Whitman Publishing Co., 1961
Copyright 1999 by Dirck and Molly Brown. Used by permission.