I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.
Dance like a bee, make edible bees using honey balls, use cheese puff balls and and juice boxes to dramatize pollination, create pipe cleaner bees and have them fly to the tune of Flight of the Bumblebee, and more in this fun, hands-on lesson or "play date" activity on bees! I created this lesson to do as a homeschool co-op lesson. We meet for 2 1/2 hours and have children between the ages of 1-10. Use this fun lesson with your classroom, family, after school program, camp, or homeschool group!
1. Pray. Read and discuss Proverbs 24:13-14 and Psalm 19:7-11.
2. Show a jar of honey. Ask what it is and where it came from.
YOU WILL NEED: a jar of honey
3. Read Jump into Science: Honeybees by Deborah Heiligman.
A Bee Is an Insect
4. A bee is an insect. Review the basic traits of insects (number of body parts & number of legs) and how insects differ from each other (mouths, types of legs, size, wings, antennae, etc.).
5. Use a magnifying glass to look at a dead bee. If you have a microscope, you can also look at the bee's legs and proboscis. Identify the bee's body parts and allow children to touch the bee. (If you don't have a dead bee, you can instead use a toy model or simply show a magnified photograph from a book.) My children were surprised at how sharp the bee's legs were and didn't realize bees have 2 sets of wings until they saw them.
YOU WILL NEED: magnifying glasses and/or a microscope and a dead bee, bee toy model, or a magnified photograph of a bee from a book
Edible Bees Made from Honey Balls
6. Make edible bees using honey balls to review the anatomy of a bee.
-Read the safety notes below before beginning this activity.
-To make the honey balls, combine 1 cup quick oats, 1 cup powdered milk (preferably the powdery kind rather than the grainy type), 1/2 cup peanut butter, and 1/2 cup honey. This will make enough for 10 children.
-Give each child a small, disposable plate and write his/her name on the plate. Spray children's hands with non-stick cooking spray so that the dough won't stick to their hands.
-Give each child 2 heaping tablespoons of the honey ball dough. Have them roll their dough into 3 balls: a tiny ball for the bee's head, a medium-sized ball for the bee's thorax, and the largest ball for the bee's abdomen. Have the children flatten the abdomen piece a bit so that it forms an oval.
-Have children place 2 chocolate chips with the pointed side facing inward on the head to form the bee's 2 compound eyes.
-Put 2 small black sting licorice pieces in the top to form the antennae. (If children have difficulty poking the licorice into the head, poke a toothpick into the head first to make a hole.)
-Place 1 small black string licorice piece in the front to form the proboscis.
-Place 6 black sting licorice pieces along the thorax, 3 on each side, to form the legs.
-Place each banana chip half and almond slice on the top of the thorax to form the wings. (Alternatively, you can just use 4 almond slices.)
-Squirt a bit of chocolate syrup on each child's plate. Allow them to use a new paintbrush to paint chocolate stripes on the abdomen. They can also paint the head and some of the thorax if they would like.
-Place a chocolate chip, with the pointed end facing out, on the tip of the abdomen to form the stinger.
-Place the edible bees in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat them.
-Before beginning this activity, check for peanut allergies. The above recipe can be made with almond butter if a substitute is needed.
-Do not feed this to children under the age of 1 since it contains honey, which shouldn't be consumed by children under the age of 1. If you have children under the age of 1 participating, you can make peanut butter dough without honey by combining 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons softened butter, and 1 cup graham cracker crumbs.
YOU WILL NEED: 1 cup quick oats, 1 cup powdered milk (preferably the powdery kind rather than the grainy type), 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup honey, 3 miniature chocolate chips per child, 9 small pieces of black string licorice (or chocolate licorice cut into pieces or chow mein noodles if you need a substitute) per child, 4 almond slices per child (or substitute 2 of the almond slices for a dried banana chip broken in half), mixing bowl, mixing spoon, measuring cups, tablespoon, non-stick cooking spray, a small disposable plate for each child, a few toothpicks, chocolate syrup, and a new paintbrush for each child
Pollination & Proboscises
7. Demonstrate how bees pollinate flowers.
-Ahead of time, prepare the "flower" by taping some construction paper flower petals to the outside of a large mixing bowl. (The bowl will represent a flower.) Place small juice boxes (that will represent nectar) on the bottom of the bowl. Cover the juice boxes with cheese puff balls (which will represent pollen).
-Point out the children what each part of your "flower" represents. Have each child reach in to grab a juice box. Ask them what got onto their hands (orange powder). Explain that the same thing occurs when a bee lands on a flower to suck up some nectar. Pollen sticks to the bee. Actually the bee collects pollen as well to make bee pollen or bee bread which is used as food and to help with the larvae development. Bees have something that is almost like a sack on their legs that they can use to carry the pollen.
-Now have the children touch their "pollen-covered" hand to their other hand. Did the "pollen" rub off onto their other hand? Yes. When a bee flies from flower to flower, pollen from various flowers falls into the other flowers. That fertilizes the flowers and helps them to grow.
-Ask the children if they would like to drink their "nectar." What will they need to use in order to drink it? (the straw) A bee has a tube-like mouth called a proboscis that is similar to the straw the children will use to drink up their "nectar" juice box.
-Allow children to drink their juice box while you pass out hand-wipes/baby-wipes for the children to use to wipe off their hands. If desired, allow children to each a few of the cheese balls as well.
YOU WILL NEED: a large mixing bowl, construction paper flower petals, tape, a small juice box per child, 1 bag of cheese puff balls, & hand-wipes
8. Read most of The Buzz on Bees: Why Are They Disappearing? by Shelley Rotner.
Flowers and Pollen
9. Allow children to locate pollen on a flower. If you need to buy one from the store, look for ones such as lilies that have obvious pollen. If you are not limited by time, you can instead go outside and look for pollen on flowers and see if anyone can spot a bee visiting the flowers. If you have clover growing nearby, you can also let the children suck the nectar from the inner tips of the petals.
YOU WILL NEED: flowers
10. Once a scout bee locates a good source of nectar, she returns to the hive to inform the other bees. She does a sort of dance to give directions to the other bees. Lead the children in dancing the circular and waggle dances.
11. Have the children use a version of the bee dance to search for food. Pair up the children and give each pair an item to hide (such as a fake flower). Have the children take turns hiding the flower in a different room. One child will be the scout bee who will hide the flower. S/he will return to the "hive" and dance in a figure 8 or circle pattern to let his/her partner know it is time to find the flower. The "worker bee" will "fly" off to try to find the "food source." S/he will locate the hidden flower by watching the dancing of the "scout bee." We decided that the scout bees will wiggle their top halves if the worker bee is going the wrong direction. The scout bee will wiggle their bottom if the worker bee is going in the right direction. The faster the scout bee wiggles, the closer the worker bee is getting to the hidden item. After the "food source" has been located, have them switch roles.
YOU WILL NEED: an item for each pair of children to hide (such as a fake flower)
Honeybee Pipe Cleaner Craft Model
12. Make a Honeybee Craft Model. Tightly coil the black pipe cleaner around a pencil or pen. Coil the yellow pipe cleaner around the black pipe cleaner, leaving space between the yellow coils. Push the bee body off of the pen or pencil and then bend the end of the black pipe cleaner to form the stinger. Bend each silver/white pipe cleaner into a loop. Attach them between yellow and black coils to form the wings.
YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD: 1 black pipe cleaner/chenille stem, half of a yellow pipe cleaner/chenille stem, half of a silver or white pipe cleaner/chenille stem cut into 2 pieces, and a pen or pencil
Flight of the Bumblebee
13. Have children use their honeybee craft model to "buzz" around the room as they listen to the song "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Rimsky-Korsakov.
YOU WILL NEED: "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Rimsky-Korsakov and a way to play the song
14. Bees are an extremely important means by which flowers are pollinated, which helps our fruits and vegetables to grow. However, what most of us think about when we think of bees is honey. Read a short book such as A Taste of Honey by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace on how honey is extracted.
15. There are many varieties of honey. They will look and taste different depending on the type of flowers the bees used to make the honey. Taste and compare at least two varieties of honey. Compare the color, scent, and taste. (Safety note: It is recommended to not allow children under the age of 1 to consume honey.)
YOU WILL NEED: Disposable spoons and at least 2 varieties of honey (such as clover blossom honey and orange blossom honey).
Honeycombs & Hives
16. (Optional) If you have a piece of honeycomb, allow children to look at it and/or taste it (if it the variety that has honey in it). (Safety note: It is recommended to not allow children under the age of 1 to consume honey.)
YOU WILL NEED: honeycomb
16. (Optional) Quickly discuss the hexagonal shape of the honeycomb and how bees form the wax cells. Give each child a napkin and a handful of Honeycomb cereal. Have the children piece together their cereal to make a beehive for their bee. We quickly noted that Honeycomb cereal isn't really honeycomb shaped.
YOU WILL NEED: Honeycomb cereal and a napkin for each child
17. Pass out the Edible Honey Bees and let the children eat them along with their Honeycomb cereal. Pass out cups of water as well.
YOU WILL NEED: cups for water
18. Review what we learned about bees.
More of Our Favorite Books on Bees
The Bumblebee Queen by April Pulley Sayre is one of our favorite picture books on bees. Brilliant Bees by Linda Glaser and Are You a Bee? (Backyard Books) by Judy Allen (best for preschoolers) are also wonderful. What If There Were No Bees?: A Book About the Grassland Ecosystem (Food Chain Reactions) by Suzanne Slade focuses on the importance of bees in the process of pollinating plants. It has beautiful illustrations. Also look for Honey in a Hive (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Anne Rockwell, The Life and Times of the Honeybee by Charles Micucci, Time For Kids: Bees! (Time for Kids Science Scoops) by the Editors of TIME For Kids, Bees (First Discovery) by Gallimard Jeunesse, and Honeybees (Penguin Young Readers, L3) by Joyce Milton.
Our favorite picture books on beekeepers
Our favorite picture books on beekeepers include The Beeman by Laurie Krebs, A Taste of Honey by Nancy Wallace, and The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi.
Fun Stories About Bees
In addition to the above factual books we read about bees, we also enjoyed these fun stories that include bees and honey: The Honeybee & the Robber by Eric Carle , The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco, The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord, Walt Disney's: Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree by Janet Campbell, Honey... Honey... Lion! A Story from Africa by Jan Brett, and The Big Honey Hunt (The Berenstain Bears) by Stan Berenstain.
Looking for More Free Bee Lapbooks, Worksheets, & Activities?
Click on or copy and paste on the below links to find free lapbooks & worksheets:
Winnie the Pooh and Some Bees by A. A. Milne Lapbook: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/winnie_the_pooh_and_some_bees.php
Honey, Honey, Lion! by Jan Brett Lapbook: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/honey_honey_lion.php
Honey Cookies by Meredith Hooper Lapbook: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/honey_cookies.php
Good YouTube Clips on Bees
Go on a seed hunt, act out germination, create seed mosaics, make and eat a plant parts salad, dissect a flower, decorate sunflower cookies, compete in a photosynthesis relay race, got on a plant scavenger hunt, and more during this fun four part unit study on Botany and Plants!
- Plant Parts & Seeds Lesson - This is part 1 of a 4 part unit study on Botany and Plants. Go on a seed hunt, act out germination, create seed mosaics, make and eat a plant parts salad, and more in this fun lesson on plants!
- Flowers Lesson - Go on a flower hunt, dissect a flower, create edible flowers, paint flowers, and more in this fun lesson on flowers! This is part 2 of a 4 part unit study on Botany and Plants.
- Bee & Honey Lesson - This is part 3 of a 4 part unit study on Botany and Plants. (This lesson is optional if you need to squeeze this unit into 3 parts rather than 4.) Dance like a bee, make edible bees using honey balls, use cheese puff balls and and juice boxes to dramatize pollination, create pipe cleaner bees and have them fly to the tune of Flight of the Bumblebee, and more!
- Trees & Leaves Lesson - This is part 4 of a 4 part unit study on Botany and Plants. Play a photosynthesis relay race, create an edible leaf structure, act out the parts of a tree, examine and classify tree leaves and use them to identify trees, and more in this fun, hands-on lesson on leaves and trees!
- Botany Scavenger Hunt & Field Trip Ideas - This is the culminating activity we did after a 4 week hands-on unit study on botany/plants. Children went on a fun-filled scavenger hunt for a variety of plants, and afterward had a plant-themed picnic lunch. Also included are the field trips we went on while studying this unit on botany and plants.
Over the years I have posted over 30 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 140 lessons. For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies .
Would you like to teach this way every day?
I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful Christian curriculum and was created by moms with active children! You can even watch free on-line videos as Jessica, one of the co-authors of Konos, walks you through a unit. (Look for the Explanation Videos tab.)
If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' HomeSchoolMentor.com program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!
© 2013 Shannon
What first comes to mind when you think of bees? - Or just leave a note to let me know you dropped by! I love getting feedback from you!
Shannon (author) from Florida on August 05, 2014:
@TapIn2U: They definitely do! Thank you so much for visiting!
TapIn2U on July 29, 2014:
Bees play an important role in the ecosystem. Good info and very much enjoyed the videos! Fantastic lens! Sundae ;-)