May 18, 2020 – Pollination Discoveries

Imagine a world without blueberries, strawberries, peaches, chocolate…these tasty treats and other fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts rely on the process of pollination to grow. Insects and other animals are a very important part of pollination for a lot of plants. This week we will be sharing activities and lessons that will help children understand, observe, and learn about pollination and the role animals play in the process.

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I am grateful for:
The insects and hummingbirds who pollinated my blueberry bushes.
The plants that produce the fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts that keep me nourished and happy.
The bright colors and beautiful patterns seen among many pollinators.
For all of you who are taking the time to notice and wonder about the world around you.

Pollination Activities:

Videos: Check out this 2 minute video from the National Inventors Hall of Fame to learn about the process of pollination and find the Pollinator Challenge mentioned in the video in the Science Activities section below.

Crafts: There are several creative and fun bee & pollinator activities in this booklet created by the Edmonton Area Land Trust in Alberta, Canada. You will learn how to build a bee hotel, make a bee puppet, move pollen like a bee, and more.

Nature Journal Ideas and Printable Pages

Discovery Walk: Take a nature walk to find pollinators. Look for flowers around your yard or neighborhood and look closely for insects. You may see bees, butterflies, beetles or hummingbirds visiting the flowers. Be sure to look closely, some of the insects can be really small. What are they doing? Caution: do not grab flowers that have bees or wasps visiting as they may sting you. It isafe to watch them, just give them a little space. Can’t get outside? Watch this video of bees visiting a blueberry bush.

Science Activities  

  • Pollinating device challenge: design and build a device to pollinate flowers. This STEM activity was designed by the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
    • Sketch a design of your device.
    • Use recyclables and craft items you have at home to build a prototype of your device. Your prototype does not have to function.
  • Become a Pollinator: make a pollinator puppet to collect and share pollen among flowers.
    • Make a pollinator puppet by either drawing your own or printing, coloring, and cutting out an image. Here are some images you can use.
    • Attach your pollinator to a popsicle stick or other handle with tape.
    • Cut out paper flowers or use cupcake papers or other cups to mimic flowers.
    • Add pollen to the middle of your flowers. To mimic pollen you can use small granular material, such as cornmeal, gelatin or sugar, or craft pom poms or rolled up pieces of paper.
      • If you choose a granular material be sure you place your flowers on a surface that can be easily cleaned as some of the “pollen” will fall off the pollinator during transport.
      • If possible use different colored “pollen” material  for each flower. If using sugar or gelatin use food coloring to make different colors. This will make it easier to see how the pollen moves from flower to flower.
    • Get your pollinator ready to collect and transfer pollen from flower to flower.
      • If you are using cornmeal or sugar place pieces of folded over tape on the back of your pollinator so the sticky side is out. Note: Your child may want to make an extra pollinator without tape that they can continue to play with after the experiment as the pollinator with tape will become coated in your pollen material.
      • If you are using pom poms or pieces of paper your child can help their pollinator collect pollen using their fingers or tweezers.
    • Have your pollinator visit a flower to collect nectar and pollen then travel to another flower where it will leave some pollen from the first flower and collect more.
    • Take your pollinator puppets outside to visit real flowers.

I’m ready to pollinate!

Do you know there is more than one kind of bee? Most of us hear the word bee and think about the honeybee but there are many different types of bees. The Oregon Bee Project is working to study, protect and educate Oregonians about wild and managed bees. They have several resources on their website including a printable poster featuring 18 of our common crop pollinators. Check them out!