In the Martin & Sylvia story, “Mr. Brown's Bees”, Mr. Brown’s orchard is abloom and ready for the busy work of his bees.
He invites Martin and Sylvia to help prepare the hives, and Sylvia enthusiastically joins in. Martin, however, is apprehensive. He’s been stung before. To help with Martin's nervousness, Daddy gives a lesson on bees, so Martin can learn how much he has in common with the helpful workers.
A beekeeper once told me—about 30 seconds before he pulled the lid off of a box full of tens of thousands of stinging insects just few feet away—that no one has lukewarm feelings the first time they look inside a beehive. You'll either instantly be drawn closer in fascinated awe, or you'll want to run away as fast as your feet can carry you. That wasn't to say that those feelings couldn't be changed, he assured, merely that most people have a very visceral initial reaction.
Not quite ready to find out which camp you fall into with real-live bees? That's OK! Because the pollination game that Daddy sets up for Martin and Sylvia in the story is a fun way to learn about bees and pollination without risking getting stung.
In the story, Daddy sets up 6 flower stations, each with juice and play silks, as outlined below. That number works great for 2 kids, but if you have a larger group of children playing, I would set up more stations. Remember that you'll need an even number of stations for the game to work out correctly.
You'll also need a set of two, different colored play silks for each station. (For example, we needed 6 red and 6 yellow for our game with 6 flower stations.) If you don't have that many play silks in the right colors, scraps from your fabric stash—or a few inexpensive bandanas cut in half—will work just as well.
Now let's get out there, worker bees, and start pollinating some flowers!
Daddy's Pollination Game
12 play silks, bandanas, or pieces of cloth; 6 of one color, 6 of another
6 glasses of fruit juice or seltzer
straws (optional, but good if you're playing with a group)
Set up 6 “flower stations” in an open area. Each station should have one drink and two pieces of cloth that are the same color. It's probably not necessary if you're just playing with family, but, since we had one kiddo with a summer cold the day we played this game, I put two color coded straws into each drink—blue for my daughter, green for my son.
Now, explain the rules, just like Daddy did in the story. The juice is the nectar; the play silks are the pollen. At each station, you take sip of nectar and pick up one “pollen” silk. At the next station, you drop the silk from the last station, take a drink, and pick up a new silk. The game is over when all the flowers are pollinated—that is, each flower station has one silk of each color.
Just like Martin and Sylvia, some kids will be more interested in tasting the juice, while others will be excited to mix the silks as quickly as possible. Either way, it's a great game for a summer morning, and a fun way to learn more about how bees are so vital to growing our food.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.