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Pollinator posting game

Students post pictures of pollinators in tubs that are placed near flowers.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Food Webs, Ecosystems, Biomes (3, 4)
Biology: Sensing, Organ Systems (4, 5, 6)
Lessons activity is in: 
  • a park or yard area with flowering plants
  • tubs with posting holes. an image on the tub shows the pollinator (bee, beetle, fly, butterfly, humming bird etc)
  • images of the pollinators on small squares of paper, to match those on the tubs; many copies of each kind (total # cards about 10X the number of students)

Short discussion/review on why flowers are different colours, smells and shapes - to attract different pollinators. The pollinators collect nectar and/or pollen from flowers for themselves. At the same time they brush against pollen and move it from one flower to another, so fertilizing the eggs, and making seeds.
Bees, butterflies, humming birds, moths, flies, beetles and bats all pollinate flowers. Some flowers are pollinated by only one kind of pollinator, and some are pollinated by many kinds. (Wind is also used by many plants to simply blow the pollen between them.)

Discuss what different flower colours, smells and shapes different pollinators like. Detailed list follows, can be abbreviated:
Bee - bright coloured, sweet-smelling flower. Nectar guides (visible or UV patterns that guide the insect to the nectar).
Butterfly - bright coloured flower with a wide landing platform (can have a narrow tube as proboscis fits down it). Nectar guides.
Fly - white/green/yellow/brown colour, sometimes funky/putrid smelling.
Humming bird - red/yellow/orange coloured, odourless, tubes/funnels/cups.
Beetle - white or green coloured, odour can be absent or strongly fruity, large bowl shaped to crawl into.
Moth - dull red/purple/pink/white coloured, strong sweet smell emitted at night, various shapes.

For younger students show them each tub with it's pollinator image, next to a flower that it pollinates.
For older students do not tell them where the tubs are - they will find them and tell each other where they are as the game gets going. But so show them an image of each flower with it's pollinator on it, to discuss the different flower colours, shapes and odours.

Pollinators and their plants at Gordon Elementary:
1. Beetle image on a tub under a dogwood tree (bees also pollinate dogwood). Beetles are attracted to flowers with a wide platform to crawl over, and do not need to have an odour.
2. Butterfly image on a tub next to marigold flowers (beetles also pollinate marigolds). Butterflies are attracted to flowers that are bright colours, have a wide landing platform, and have an odour. Their long tongues can reach down into the flower for nectar.
3. Humming bird image on a tub next to a honeysuckle vine (moths also pollinate honeysuckle). Humming birds are attracted to tubular flowers that they can stick their long beak into, no odour necessary.
4. Bee image on a tub next to bluebells. Bees are attracted to bright flowers with sweet odours. The flower can be tubular if the bee can fit into it.
5. Fly image on a tub next to buttercups (bees and beetles also pollinate buttercups). Flies have a short tongue, so need a bowl-shaped flower. Some flowers have a putrid odour to attract flies.

Give students one square with a pollinator image on it. Ask them to post it in the correct tub, before coming back for another one.
To make the game into a competition, write the student's name on the back of the square before they post it, to allow a count of number of squares correctly posted by each student.
Students keep posting until the picture squares run out.

Grades taught: 
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Teaching site: 
General Gordon Elementary Science Club
Activity originally developed and delivered: 

Gordon Elementary Science Club