Un-BEE-Lievable Science: A bee themed lesson plan for grades 3 – 6

Note: While the lesson plan and program guide for Un-BEE-Lievable are complete, some of the resources are a work in progress. Because the program fits in perfectly with children’s summer programs (especially in Canada where the 2019 SRC theme is Natural World), I decided to post it as early as possible. I will update with the remaining resources as they are completed. I will also update in August with reflections after I’ve run this program.

Bees are incredible creatures. And without bees, our ecosystems would be irreparably damaged.

bees1

But bees have a bad reputation among children (they’re scary!), and I want to change that. I’m sharing all my resources for this program so that you can help change that too. If you are a teacher or a librarian, feel free to run this program/lesson using the following resources:

There are three main goals to this lesson:

  • Understand why bees are incredible
  • Understand why bees are vital to human survival
  • Understand how to help bees

There are 4 Active Learning portions of this lesson:

  • The Cheetos Pollination Game
  • Bee Charades featuring the Waggle Code
  • Honey Tasting
  • Planting a Bee Friendly Flower

Bee, Pollen, Nectar, Yellow, Blossom, Bloom, Macro

Cheetos Pollination Game

After discussing why plants need pollination, and why humans need plants, this is a memorable activity to help students visualize what they’ve learned. Plus there are cheetos to eat, so it’s appealing.

Each student has a cardstock flower with a cup in the center filled with Cheetos. They have to go from flower to flower, eating Cheetos, and rubbing their cheesy fingers on the petal of the next flower. Ideally, each flower would have a different kind of Cheetos to help visualize the spread of pollen.

After everyone has visited each flower, ask participants to examine their flower and explain how this experiment applies to the real world.

Beehive, Bees, Honeycomb, Honey Bee, Buckfast Bees

Bee Charades featuring the Waggle Code

After learning about honeybees and their waggle dance, participants will have to use The Waggle Code to communicate to their teammates. I developed the Waggle Code, with the help of my artist husband, to be as similar to  the movements used in The Waggle Dance as possible. Instead of communicating a direction, each waggle movement represents a different letter. Each movement is a gross motor movement, rather than a fine motor movement, so that participants can experience how physically demanding the Waggle Dance is for bees.

Participants can volunteer to try to communicate a word to the group using the code. Or for some extra excitement, break the group into 2 teams and have them compete to communicate the most words in the span of 3 minutes. Afterwards, discuss why the task was challenging and how it relates to the Waggle Dance.

Honey, Spoon, Golden, Yellow, Liquid, Nutrition

Honey Taste Testing

After learning how honey is made and why honey produced by different hives has different flavours, participants will have a chance to taste 5 local honeys. After tasting each, they will fill out a tasting card and discuss their experience. They should be encouraged to focus on the taste, and try to describe the flavours in creative ways.

Sunflower, Sunflower Field, Flowers, Summer, Bloom

Bee Friendly Flowers

After learning about what makes flowers especially inviting to bees, students’ understanding will be assessed during the Flower Challenge in the PowerPoint. Afterwards, students will plant a seed and learn how to care for the flower.

Honey Bees, Bees, Hive, Bee Hive, Insects, Yellow

I will update this post with reflections after I’ve run the event. If you have any comments or ideas, please let me know in the comments! If you use this outline to run a Bee Science program, be sure to tag me in your posts so I can see how it went.

 

Lesson Plan: Un-BEE-Lievable Science

Subject

Understanding how pollination works; understanding how honeybees communicate; understanding how honey is made; identifying different flavours in honey; understanding why bees are vital to our ecosystem; understanding what we can do to help bees survive

Audience

Grades 3 – 6. Any number of attendees could be accommodated.

Learning Objectives

  • Students can articulate why bees are a vital part of our ecosystem
  • Successful students are able to identify at least 3 different flavours in honey
  • Successful students are able to grow a bee friendly flower

Content Outline (1 hour)

  • Introduction (5 mins)
    1. What do you know about bees?
    2. Preassessment: True or false bee trivia, ending with the question “Are bees vital to human survival?”
    3. Can anyone tell me why bees are vital to our ecosystem?
  • Pollination (10 mins)
    1. Plants need the pollen of other plants to reproduce
    2. Humans need bees because pollination is vital to:
      • Our food supply
      • Clean air
      • Clean water
    3. Pollination Activity
      1. Each student has a cardstock flower with a cup in the center filled with Cheetos
      2. They have to go from flower to flower, eating Cheetos, and rubbing their cheesy fingers on the petal of the next flower
        • Ideally, each flower would have a different kind of Cheetos to help visualize the spread of pollen
      3. Students should visualize the effect of pollination, and can explain how this experiment applies to the real world
  • Bee Communication (10 minutes)
    1. The waggle dance
    2. Honeybees use body movements to communicate which direction and how far a source of food, water, our housing is
    3. Bee Charades Activity
      1. Students will break into 2 teams
      2. They have to use The Waggle Code (each letter of the alphabet is assigned to a gross motor movement) to spell a word to their group.
      3. Whichever team is able to spell the most words in 2 minutes wins
      4. Discuss the difficulty of communication using only large body movements
  • Honey (15 minutes)
    1. How honey is made
    2. What does honey taste like
    3. Honey Tasting
      • Students will try 5 honeys produced by different hives
      • Students will take notes, and by thinking critically about the flavours will try to guess which plants grew around the hive
  • Bee Friendly Flowers (15 minutes)
    • Which types of flowers are attractive to bees and why
    • Assessment: Flower Quiz
      • Students will look at a picture of a flower and vote on whether or not it is Bee Friendly
    • Plant a flower
      • Students will plant a bee friendly flower and learn how to take care of it
  • Conclusion and Post-Assessment Discussion (5 minutes)
    • Why do we need bees?
    • What are some of the reasons why bees are incredible?
    • Students are encouraged to continue learning about bees, and are given a handout and access to a book display

One thought on “Un-BEE-Lievable Science: A bee themed lesson plan for grades 3 – 6

  1. I love this so much. Thank you for sharing, I can’t wait to hear how the kids respond! Also, thank you for all of the resources! I really think a program like this would do well here (I’m in the Southern East Coast in the U.S. and we have a ton of honey farms here)!

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