One of my most challenging and fun jobs this summer was to present a weekly hour-long program on pollinators to the Paiute Indian Summer Children's Program. I had to be ready for up to thirty students whose ages ranged from five to perhaps fifteen. The population and numbers of kids changed each week and I had a hard time finding activities that would interest everyone and fit the numbers I needed to make for a successful game. I planned to let the kids collect bees, flies, beetles and butterflies and view them in a collection jar, but found we had no pollinator habitat on the grounds.
The first week the program was on bumblebees. I brought a few of my collected bees to show them and gave them a little booklet that they could use to identify local bumblebees. We listened to The Flight of the Bumblebees and watched a video of bees in their nest. Then we had a bumblebee hive relay race where the "bees" had to collect pollen from one flower, give pollen to a second flower, then collect more pollen, before running back to the hive, delivering the pollen, and then spreading the smell off the flowers to the next bee.
|Discussing bumblebees and their role in pollination|
|A bumblebee waiting for the start of the race|
|A "bumblebee" collecting pollen|
|Reviewing the rock, paper, scissors game|
|Practicing the poses for the different life stages of butterflies|
|Playing the butterfly game|
|Winner gets to advance a life stage looser has to find another butterfly in his life stage and play again|
We made an origami butterfly after reading some butterfly facts and looking at pictures of butterflies. The kids loved finding out that butterflies have to stick their feet into their food to taste it.
|Giving a little help|
|This seemed to be the most engaging of the activities we did|
|Even young children were able to make most of the folds|
|A wonderful book about nighthawks|
Then I handed out a "probiscus" to each child and we went out to collect pollen from our "moonflowers" which were paper cups tied to the fence. Two of the children were hawk-eating bats and could only walk up to the "moths" and eat them by tagging them with a sticky note. On this day, I had mostly very young children and many of them needed help to get pollen on their probiscus. Then they couldn't pay attention to the approaching bats so all got eaten at least twice.
|The blowers have double-faced sticky tap on their ends and they are supposed catch pollen on them|
|A feeding hawkmoth getting eaten by a bat.|
|Kids, flowers and my thank-you card|
For my last day with the kids, we learned the Pollinator Song, then made bee or bat hand puppets using templates and paper bags.
For sure, I learned something and had fun and when I reviewed with the kids, I found they had learned a lot also.
On a personal front, I'm madly making lists, and piles of stuff, ordering in what I still need, and rushing to finish pinning bees. Thankfully, I can pin a batch of bees while relaxing in front of the Olympics. Don't know what I'd do if I had to add that to my day work.