With a big thanks to our funder, Captain Planet, we were able to fill our pollinator garden to the brim with 240 new seedlings this season! If you have been out to our Learning Garden, the pollinator garden makes up all of the space outside the fence. Probably half of the square footage of our garden is dedicated to pollinators, plus some tasty herbs!
In conjunction with this new growth, we held a two-part lesson with the children on pollinators. We told the children about 3 common types - bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds - and then discussed how these creatures carry pollen from plant to plant, and why that process is important for our food crops. After the overview, we broke the children up into 2 groups, and they rotated through 2 different activities on pollinators.
In the first activity, we utilized photovoice to get the children into the garden, and identifying what they thought to be the “best pollinators.” We gave them disposable cameras, and asked the question, “If YOU were a bee, butterfly, or hummingbird, what would YOU eat?” We took a picture of whichever child got to use the camera, and then allowed them to take a photo around the garden in response to our question. We then asked them why they chose to take that photo, and recorded their responses. Afterward, we got the kids into small groups and they helped us to transplant one of our new pollinator seedlings! They loved working with the plants and buzzing around, pretending to be bees!
In the second rotation, each child received a paper plate with a flower drawn on it, attached to a large popsicle stick to make a “paddle.” They were all given time to decorate these flower paddles, and then we rounded them up to play a game. We inflated 2 yellow balloons and colored them like bees, and then the kids circled up and passed the bee balloon around with their paddles. They loved this game! Our main focus was to instill the idea that pollinators jump from flower to flower, and that this process is what makes them so important in the garden. It got a little tricky to coordinate passing around the balloon with such young children, but luckily our adaptable helper, Miss Whitney, improvised and moved the balloon around by hand to make things easier.
The last part of our pollinator lesson happened a week later, after we had developed the photos from our photovoice project. Before class we cut out simple construction paper shapes of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and then allowed the children to choose which pollinator they wanted to be. Then we gave them a cutout of their face, which they pasted on their pollinator on a large piece of construction paper. We then gave them the photo that they took in the garden, which they also pasted on their paper. We reiterated our leading question from before, “If YOU were a bee, butterfly, or hummingbird, what would YOU eat?” Then we asked them to decorate the rest of their paper with their “dream garden.” They loved pretending to be all the different creatures! We also brought some real flowers in from the garden that they could add, especially because some children were absent for the previous lesson. We also had some new children enter the class during this time, so they were not able to have their picture on the pollinator cutout - but they didn’t seem to mind once they realized they could add a real flower to their picture!
Overall, this two-part pollinator lesson was a huge success: even two months later, we still hear children talking about pollinators! While this may not seem like a remarkable measure for most age groups, it is very rewarding to instill such a strong educational memory in a 3-5 year old. They loved the lesson and always relish their time in the garden, so it was a pretty easy plan to execute! I believe it was also helpful to hold the lesson over two weeks, to help reiterate all the major points. The main issue with this form of educational metrics was getting explanations from the children on the photos they took. As you will see below, the answers were not very extensive or reflective of pollinator knowledge, mostly because the kids were distracted by the excitement of taking photos around the garden. At such a young age, they have a tougher time recalling key points until the lesson has been reiterated a few times, and they aren't likely to be as thoughtful with their choices when the activity is so exciting already. Still, we believe that the children absorbed the content of our lessons - even if they had a little trouble articulating it! Thank you Captain Planet for your generosity in growing our pollinator space, or our garden would not be the same! Check out the photos below to see what the kids did, and their ideas about what pollinators should eat!
"If YOU were a bee, butterfly or hummingbird, what would YOU eat?"
"I would eat this because...."
Rowan: "Cause bees like flowers"
Mason: "Red is pretty"
Marissa: "It looks like an eye and that's pretty"
Mary Eccles: "Because it's a big flower"
Evie: "It's the best one for the bumblebees"
Harper C: "I like that flower"
Graison: "It's pretty and pink"
Kinley: "Because it looks pretty"
Lucy S: "Because butterflies like flowers"
Ryle: "A bee would like it"
Charlie: "It has a bunch of flowers"
Harper B: "It's pretty"
Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture Office
Lower Level 171 Grand Blvd
PO Box 67
Boone, NC 28608