Introduction to Pollinators
During this lesson students will examine: what pollinators are, why they are important, and what plants do in order to attract them. The lesson will involve didactic, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, artistic, critical-thinking, and reading for information activities.
Students will be able to:
Students will write a letter to an individual (could be teacher, younger class/grade, parent, principal) about the importance of planting/maintaining a pollinator garden at school or home. The letter should include:
Age group: 4th-6th Grade
Venue/s: Pollinator Section of the Garden
Materials: Pollinator partnership chart, journal, pollinator garden, pollinator posters, realia bee
Duration: 1.5 hours
The Lesson Plan:
Who has ever heard of pollen? What is it?
- The integrity of this lesson truly depends upon the responses received to this question. If there is confusion over what pollen is, it is important to give them that knowledge. You could use a flower and loomi loop to show pollen. Younger students tend to confuse pollen with nectar as well.
Hook: Ask the students: Who here enjoys fruit? Pumpkins? Broccoli? Squash? Cabbage? If you said yes to any of these foods then you should thank a pollinator because they help one third of the plants and crops that humans eat.
- Ask students: What is a pollinator?
- Give students 30 seconds of think time
- Ask students to share with the person next to them what they think (if there is an odd number a group of three works fine)
- Students can share out responses from group discussions (in order to change up the think, pair, share technique instructor can change between students sharing their ideas and then sharing what their partner said in addition to other think pair share techniques).
The instructor will give a 10-minute (MAXIMUM) lecture about the importance of pollinators. Short, chunked facts typically work the best. Below are some facts that can be used—take into consideration the level of your group and which facts to use. Try to use the pollinator posters and other items from the garden to add to the discussion.
- Pollinators and the plants they pollinate work together: the pollinator gets nectar (food) and the plant is able to spread its pollen in order to reproduce
- Pollinators are needed for the reproduction of 90% of flowering plants and 1/3 of human crops.
- Pollinators support the diversity of plants in ecosystems
- A large population of pollinators can increase quality and size of fruits
- Honeybees pollinate almost 10 billion dollars worth of crops in the U.S. yearly
- Pollinator populations are declining (I do not recommend telling this to most students, scare tactics is not a hook)
- Not only bees are pollinators: butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, beetles, moths, and flies also pollinate
Students should then have 2 minutes to talk to one another about something interesting they learned about pollinators. They could write those observations in their journal or draw a picture of it.
After the didactic portion of this lesson the students should get up and take a tour of the pollinator garden/garden as a whole. Before leaving the group tell students they are responsible for having answers or observations to the following questions: what pollinators they see, which plants they are going to, and what the humans (gardeners) are doing to attract the pollinators/provide space.
- If it is an off season this lends a bit of a challenge since the students will most likely not see pollinators, or the plants they are going to. The instructor could utilize story-telling skills to paint a picture of what the kids would see: or, the instructor could ask the students to make observations about season specific things. Questions like: what season is it? Why do you think that we do not see blooming plants/flowers? Why do you think we do not see any pollinators right now? When do you think we would see both blooming flowers/plant and pollinators? Why do you think we see both blooming plants and pollinators in the spring and summer? Or, if the students are in need of a break, allow some free explore of the garden. This could lead into a lesson/activity where students make pine cone feeders.
Once the students have finished their free explore, instructor should move the students back into a sedentary location (greenhouse, cob oven area, etc). Go over some of the findings with the group as a whole. Break the students into groups—how many groups are needed is up to the instructor, this can be done with 2 large groups, or even 4-5 small groups—based on a specific pollinator: mason bee, butterfly, hummingbird, bumblebee, beetle. The groups can be random, selected by students, or selected by the instructor depending on group needs. Each group is assigned a pollinator and the instructor will:
-Tell each group that it is their task/challenge to figure out what type of plant their pollinator is attracted to
-Lay out the Pollinator Partnership chart (illustrates the color, nectar guides, odor, pollen, and flower shape that attracts certain pollinators), and photos of pollinators interacting with a flower (both found within the garden)
-Students should be making 3-5 observations about the chart and photos
-Instructor will then remove the chart and photos, and place seed packets on the table (flowers/plants should correspond with specific pollinators and can be found within in the garden)
-Within the small groups the students will choose which seed/plant will attract their certain pollinator and why they believe that (instructor can put in as many seed packets as they wish depending on the group’s ability—more seeds for groups that need a challenge)
-Students will present their ideas aloud to the other group members
-(If it is winter or early spring the students can participate in a planting project with the seeds)
Step 4: 20-30 minutes
Once groups have finished dictating which plants and pollinators are attracted to one another the instructor will have the students draw any pollinator of their choosing interacting with a flower/plant illustrating what attracts the pollinator (for example: the trumpet shape of a flower attracting the hummingbird).
Transfer of Learning:
The transfer of learning is built into the summative assessment.
Created/Adapted by: Don Miller, 2015