By Jo Kapke, Master Gardener
Watch this video about the wonders of pollination.
There are many wonderful books for children about pollinators. Here is a sample:
Picture books for all ages:
The Reason for a Flower, by Ruth Heller
Flower Garden, by Eve Bunting
Bee Dance, by Rick Chrustowski (All about waggle dancing!)
The following children’s projects were modified with permission from the Children’s Garden in Residence program, a collaboration between University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and local youth-serving organizations. The Children’s Garden in Residence Program works to increase children’s knowledge of horticultural and science concepts, along with gardening skills. The children’s greater awareness of how plants are interconnected with products from everyday life is a part of the program. This section of the curriculum is on “Pollinators.”
Dissect a Flower
Magnifying glasses or hand lenses
Flower buds (1 per gardener- Daylilies, Asiatic Lilies, Alstromeria, Tulips work well)
Pass out one flower bud to each gardener. Dissect the flower together. This is a time for exploration and discovery, without jumping in right away with an answer. During this activity remembering or memorizing botanical names for flower parts isn’t the most important part. Use the following as talking points if needed.
- Remove the petals and discuss what they observe (colors, texture, smell etc.)
- Bright colors and patterns attract insects.
- Remove the stamen and review how the pollen needs to move from the anther to the stigma.
- Try tapping the top of the stigma with your finger- how does it feel to you? Describe what you feel, does it remind you of anything?
- Look at the pistil on the flower. I wonder how the pollen would travel down to the bottom (ovary)?
- Clear tape
- Black construction paper (cut black squares of paper approximately 2”x2”
- Microscope or hand lens (helpful but not necessary)
Explain to your growing gardener that we are going to pretend to be pollinators and collect pollen. Lead your child on a search for flowers. Ask your child to identify the part of the flower that holds the pollen. Demonstrate how to gather pollen:
- Take approximately one inch of clear tape and tap it on the center of the flower.
- When you remove the tape, you should be able to see the pollen.
- Place the piece of tape onto a black paper square.
Return to the work area. Explain to your child that some scientists use tools like microscopes and hand lenses to zoom in and more closely examine things. Demonstrate how to look at the pollen under a microscope, or hand lens. Ask your child to describe what they see when using their science tool. Encourage use of specific adjectives and using their senses to make observations.
If your child is younger, you can pretend to be bees by buzzing and flying as you walk to the flowers. This is another opportunity for exploration in the garden, make sure you are clear with instructions and the areas of the garden where your gardener can explore. Ask your child what he or she is noticing, seeing, observing, touching etc.
And when you are finished with these projects, try this Purple Pollinator Snack.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 servings (¾ Cup)
½ pint blackberries
½ pint blueberries
½ pint raspberries
1-2 tsp. of chopped fresh herb (mint or basil)
- Wash all fruit and herbs
- Add blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries to medium bowl
- Finely chop herbs, add to medium bowl
- Cut lemon in half, remove seeds, squeeze juice of ½ lemon over berries
- Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!
Brought to you by the University of Minnesota, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and the SNAP-Ed program