Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Bee-Themed Tot Trays

Bee Trays

It’s been quite a while since I’ve set up Tot Trays at our house, but last week as I was planning out a bee unit study and thinking of activities for my Preschool and Kindergarten guys, trays seemed like the perfect set-up. And I have to say after having these out for a week, I’m remembering all the reasons I like them: fine-motor skills practice, open-ended exploration, creativity, logic, & a defined work-space. What’s not to love! (You can see more about Tot Trays over at 1+1+1=1.)

Here are the Bee-Themed trays that we had out this week:



Make a Beehive

I saw this clever idea for making a beehive out of toilet paper rolls over at Deceptively Educational. We followed her instructions for the most part, only instead of gluing it together we used this as a fine-motor paper-clipping activity. To better accomodate the paper clips, I did cut my hexagonal cells to be a little wider. I found 1 inch to be just right. All the boys really loved this activity and I ended up cutting up more cells for them.



Bee Fraction Puzzles

I made this hexagonal puzzle page to expose my boys to the idea of fractions. I don’t expect full comprehension at this age, just EXPOSURE. While they worked the puzzles we talked and I used keywords like “whole,” “part,” “half,’' “fraction,” etc. There’s a template on the second page of the download that I used to cut the puzzle pieces out of craft foam. You can download your own copy HERE.

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Pollen Punch

For this tray I borrowed the flower from our Bee & Pollination Craft-tivity and paired it with a simple hole-punch and some yellow construction paper. The boys punched & punched & punched out “pollen” exercising those little hand muscles along the way.



Bee Life Cycle 3-Part Cards

These Bee Life Cycle 3-Part Cards from Trillium Montessori were a huge hit with Jet. He laid out the full cards and matched up the picture and word cards while we discussed the life cycle of the bee. Another day he put them in a circle to better illustrate the continuing cycle and matched the cards up again. You do have to take the extra step of subscribing to the Trillium Montessori blog to get the link and password for their free downloads page, but (check out those smiles) it was definitely worth it for me!



Nectar Transfer

The boys used a dropper “proboscis” to transfer colored water “nectar” to ice cube tray “cells.” All 3 of my older boys got in on playing with this tray together. This was especially nice because I could hear Dude appropriately using (and inadvertently exposing his brothers to) some newly acquired bee vocabulary as they played. Brother teaching brother! I first saw this idea on the For the Children Blog where they used a turkey baster. My boys would love that, but we didn’t have one so I went with the droppers instead.

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Bee Playdough Mat

All of my boys like playdough, so I knew this creative tray would be a hit. It was used multiple times throughout the week. The printable is from This Reading Mama. I just gave them some art supplies that were close at hand and let their imaginations take over. Next time I think I’ll give them scissors too.

If you're looking for more Bee-themed fun check out our
Bee & Pollination Craft-tivity

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In addition to the above activities the boys also got to drink juice through their proboscises (straws) and taste test some local wildflower and clover honeys.

Book Recommendations:
As usual books provided the real meat of our unit study.
Here were our favorites.



The Bee Tree
by Patricia Polacco
The Bee Tree tells the lively story of a little girl and her grandfather who go on a hunt for a Bee Tree. Friends join the pair as they scramble to follow bees back to their hive. There’s not much information on bees in this book, but it’s a lovely & fun story that really encourages literacy in its final pages. I think anyone who loves reading will really appreciate this book.

Bee & Me
by Elle McGuinness
This quick read combines factual information about bees with the sweet story of a bee who gets lost and finds himself stuck inside of a little boy’s room. The book encourages kids not to be afraid of bees, but to appreciate them for their contributions. It’s perfect for even the youngest readers.



Honey in a Hive (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)
by Anne Rockwell
 Honey in a Hive is a great non-fiction bee book for 3-8 year olds. It's 40 pages pack a good bit of knowledge into short descriptions and informative illustrations.

The Honey Makers
by Gail Gibbons
I love, love, love The Honey Makers by Gail Gibbons. There's a wealth of information in this picture book covering everything from bee anatomy, the bee life cycle, a detailed description of the various duties of worker bees, and of course how honey is made. This book is pretty detailed and can be a bit wordy, so I'd recommend it for the 5+ age group. Even I leaned some things from it!

by Joanna Cole
Who can resist Ms. Frizzle? I know my boys can't! This book follows the adventures of an elementary school class and their ecentric teacher as their bus is magically transformed into a beehive (and the children into bees). Each page is practically overflowing with information as you can see labeled diagrams and notes the children take in their notebooks, as well as speech bubbles that often provide humor and give you insight into each characters personality. There's a lot here for everyone and I'd recommend this book for ages 4+. And if your voice is getting tired by this point there's also the The Magic School Bus TV Series. The Inside a Beehive episode is on disc 4, episode 6. It's very similar content to the book. (I opted to read the other books this week and let the boys watch this one on DVD.)

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  1. Very clever adaptations! Pinning to Practical Mondays Board:)

  2. I'm looking for things to do with my 3-year old now that I am home with him full-time. This will keep him busy for awhile. Thanks for sharing this with us at Literacy Musing Mondays.


Thanks for your comments!

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