Monday, August 12, 2013

More pollination: Baked Cotton Balls and Honeybee Race

My friend Beth sent me a link showing how to make these Baked Cotton Balls a long time ago, knowing Seb (our fwuffball fanatic) would love them. So, when I was trying to think of what we would use for pollen in our Bee Race, these came to mind. It was a good excuse to finally make them!
The process is easy (and there are many tutorials online): all you do is mix equal parts of flour and water (I did 1 cup water, 1 cup flour) and add food coloring if you want. Then, dip cotton balls into the mixture until they're all coated. Put them on a foil-covered baking pan and bake at 300 for about 45 minutes.

Honeybee Race Preparation: While the cotton balls were baking, we made flowers. I had the children draw and color flowers on paper and cut them out. Then we mixed sugar and water to make little bowls of "nectar."

To do the honeybee race, each child puts one handle of a cloth shopping bag over his shoulder, and then puts one of his legs through the other handle of the bag. The bag is his "pollen basket." Each child also carries an eye dropper.

We put the flowers out all around the porch. Each flower had a "nectar" bowl and several "pollen grains" (the cotton balls) on top of it. 

When I said "go," all the children ran from flower to flower gathering nectar and pollen. They had to pick up a dropper-ful of nectar and two pollen grains from each flower. Starting with the second flower, they also had to leave one pollen grain (from their "pollen basket" bag) at each flower. Whoever visited all the flowers (collecting nectar and pollen from each) fastest, was the winner. It was a lot of fun!
Junie (with a straw) looks up guiltily from the nectar she was sipping

Honeybees at work

After our Bee Races were over, I let the children bang the baked "pollen" balls with a hammer. They enjoyed that very much! :)

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