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Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom

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Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix


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Lesson Plans (9)
Conserving Bumble Bees

This lesson introduces the importance of bumble bees and other pollinators. Using a case study approach, students will examine bumble bee population surveys and use the scientific method to discuss possible causes for the decline of pollinators. Students will then determine which land management conservation strategies in agricultural ecosystems are most successful in attracting and supporting bumble bee populations.

Fabulous Flowers

The students examine the functions of flowers and determine that some flowers are edible.

Flower Power (Grades 3-5)

Students observe physical characteristics of flowers and explore principles of pollination.

Flower Power (Grades 6-8)

Students observe the anatomical structures of flowers and explain a flower's role in plant growth and reproduction as well as their connection to our food supply.

Good Taste: Honey Bee Forager Food Preference

In this lesson students learn about the foraging behavior of bees and hypothesize if the bee’s behavior is related to its ability to detect sugar. Students will then determine which type of foraging bee would be best for pollination or honey production. Students will learn about the process of gel electrophoresis as a genetic tool and analyze DNA to identify strains of bees who are better pollen-collecting bees or better nectar-collecting bees.

Honey Bees: A Pollination Simulation

Students identify the parts of a honey bee, the stages of its life cycle, and its role in pollination.

Mind Your Own Beeswax

Through project-based learning, students solve the problem of excess beeswax, a byproduct of honey bees, by developing a useful beeswax product and marketing their product to be sold in a local boutique or farmers market.

Preservation Power of Honey

Students will expand their knowledge of microbial growth and scientific food preservation methods to learn how honey can serve as an antibacterial agent. Students will learn how honey may be used as a preservative of milk in areas without access to electricity or refrigeration and how this preservation method relies on elements found specifically in honey that cannot be replicated with other sources of sugar. 

The Amazing Honey Bee

Students investigate the three types of honey bees in a colony, identify their roles, and recognize honey bees as part of a community that works together.

Companion Resources (44)
Activity
Beebuzz
This is a game in which students take turns rolling a die and drawing parts of a bee. Any number can play, and the only materials needed are a piece of paper, a pencil, a six-sided die, and the included printable activity sheet.
The Garden Show (Musical Play)
The Garden Show is a 25-minute musical play for grades 1-5 that ties well with science curriculum. Students learn about soil, plants, photosynthesis, pollination, and garden creatures from a wild bunch of characters, including dive-bombing bees, aliens from planet Chlorophyll, and a singing compost pile.
Book
A 'Bee-Friendly' Guide to Help Save the Honey Bees
This printable PDF includes a new Winnie-the-Pooh short story and ten simple activities to support honey bees. Fully illustrated, Winnie-the-Pooh and friends are featured on every page of this family-friendly guide to helping honey bees. Although written for a British audience, the story and activities are sure to captivate American audiences as well. 
Achoo! Why Pollen Counts
A picture book teaching children about pollen, the pollination process, and bees.  The story follows a baby bear who is allergic to pollen. He learns how pollen is used by other insects and animals such as spiders, butterflies, honey bees, hummingbirds, and more. This book can be added as an extension for lessons about flowers and pollination to help students see additional benefits and uses of pollen.
Apples for Everyone
This picture book comes from National Geographic's Picture the Seasons series. Beautiful photographs illustrate apple trees in bloom, bees visiting apple flowers, a variety of apples, and apple trees heavy with fruit in the fall. 
Backyard Detective: Critters Up Close
Welcome to the fascinating world of your own backyard, where more than 125 bugs, worms, and small critters play out the drama of life in miniature. Seven life-size, backyard environments from the soil to the vegetable garden to the air above are vividly depicted in enticingly lush photographic scenes. Scenes are followed by informational spreads which identify all the animals pictured and relate intriguing facts about survival in each environment. The book includes natural science projects, essential safety information, and an inviting 'visual index' for easy reference.
Bea's Bees
Beatrix discovers a wild bumblebee nest on her way home from school and finds herself drawn to their busy world. When her bees mysteriously disappear, Bea hatches a plan to bring them back. Can Bea inspire her school and community to save the bees? Bees provide us with valuable resources, and some types of bees are in danger of disappearing forever. But ordinary people (and kids!) can help save them. Filled with fascinating facts about bumblebees and ideas to help preserve their environment, Bea's Bees encourages kids to help protect bees and other pollinators.
Beekeepers
This is a story of a young girl who helps her grandpa tend to his beehives so he can pass the legacy of being a beekeeper on to her. The book has soft oil paintings and simple illustrations which leave readers with a warm feeling of a shared experience between grandfather and granddaughter. However, it does not provide a great deal of information about bees.
Bees and Wasps
Bees and Wasps is a 32-page book filled with color photographs and illustrations. Learn about their lifecycle and the varieties of bees and wasps that pollinate flowers and make honey. You will also learn about the organization of beehives, the roles of each bee, and how they all work together to make honey and pollinate flowers.
Flight of the Honey Bee
This colorfully illustrated book follows a honey bee as she leaves the hive to search for pollen and nectar. The bee uses her senses of sight and smell to find flowers and to remember the way back. She pollinates flowers while collecting pollen and nectar to bring back to the hive. Interesting facts about bees are given alongside the story of the honey bee called Scout.   
Honeybee
Beginning at birth, the honeybee emerges through the wax cap of her cell and is driven to protect and take care of her hive. She cleans the nursery and feeds the larvae and the queen. But is she strong enough to fly? Not yet! She builds wax combs to store honey, and transfers pollen from other bees into the storage. She defends the hive from invaders. Apis accomplishes all of this before beginning her life outdoors as an adventurer, seeking nectar to bring back to her hive.
How Do Apples Grow?
This book is a part of the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series, and it clearly illustrates how fruit comes from flowers. Colorful illustrations show the male and female parts of the apple flowers up close, and the role that bees play in pollinating apple flowers is explained in simple language. The book follows apple trees through all four seasons, from the closed buds of winter to the ripe apples of fall.  
How to Grow an Apple Pie
It's easy to make an apple pie, but what does it take to make the apples? Sophie is about to find out! First, the apple trees need to be about six years old—just like Sophie. Next, they need to be pruned, and the bees have to pollinate their blossoms! After that, the tiny apples grow through the summer until they're ready to pick in the fall. Finally, it's time for Sophie to make the perfect pie!
In the Trees, Honey Bees
Peek inside this tree and see a wild colony of honey bees. It hums with life. Look at the thousands of worker bees--each one doing her job. Some are making wax. Some are feeding the hungry brood. Some are storing sweet honey. Look at all the combs, filled with honey and pollen! And there's the queen, laying eggs. It's all very organized, like a smoothly running town. A honey bee colony is a remarkable place. You will never look at bees in the same way again. 
Jo MacDonald Had a Garden
Old MacDonald had a...garden? Yes! Sing along with young Jo MacDonald as she grows healthy food for people and wild creatures. E-I-E-I-O! Find out how butterflies, bumblebees, and birds help a garden to thrive – and how you can help them too. And keep an eye on one mysterious plant. What will it become? Youngsters learn about garden ecosystems and stewardship through this playful adaptation of Old MacDonald Had a Farm.
Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden
Pumpkin Circle provides a bug's eye view and a bird's high view of seeds sprouting, flowers blooming, bees buzzing, pumpkins growing and, finally, going back to earth. Told in verse and through dramatic photography as an orange gloved-gardener plants, tends, and harvests a backyard pumpkin patch.
The Bee Book
A wonderful introduction to the humble honeybee: nature's hardest worker, and much more than just a provider of honey! Bees are incredibly industrious, brilliant at building, super social, and—most importantly—responsible for a third of every mouthful of food you eat! Find out how bees talk to one another, what it takes to become a queen bee, and what the life of a worker bee is like. The contents include bee anatomy, types of bees, hives, colonies, pollination, making honey, and more.
The Bee Tree
When Mary Ellen gets bored with her reading, Grandpa knows a hunt for a bee tree is just what she needs. Half the town joins in chasing a bee to find the hive from which they will collect honey. The story is fun to read aloud and will easily hold the attention of students.
The Beeman
Told from the viewpoint of a child whose Grandpa is a beekeeper, this rhyming text offers an accessible and engaging introduction to the behavior of bees. You will learn where bees live, how honey is made, what a beekeeper does, and more. 
The Honeybee Man
This is the story of Fred, who raises honeybees on his roof in Brooklyn, New York. Fred watches his bees closely, sharing his observations of how they tend the hive, feed babies, and make wax rooms. He even imagines flying with the bees to find flowers. The engagingly illustrated story is full of facts about bees. 
The Honeybee and the Robber
This moving/picture book follows an adventurous honeybee as she goes about her busy day, sipping nectar from flowers, avoiding hungry birds, and playing with butterflies. But when a robber bear comes looking for honey, all the bees must rush out to defend their home. 
The Life and Times of the Honeybee
Information about honeybees has never been more interesting. The text and illustrations perfectly complement one another in a concise presentation of facts about the insects both within and outside the hive. Their physical characteristics, division of labor, and role in pollination are fully described. Additional fascinating facts about a bee's year-round activities, the job of the beekeeper, the many products that contain beeswax, and ways honey has been used throughout history are included. Even the "tail-wagging dance" that directs bees to flower locations is simple to follow. There is no index, but a table of contents leads to specific topics. A book that is right on target for young readers.
The Prized Pumpkin
Tori and Jade are best friends until a friendly competition to grow the most prized pumpkin nearly tears their friendship apart! Come along as they create plans, work with an agronomist and beekeeper, learn from their mistakes and successes all in an effort to grow weird, warty, and ginormous pumpkins. The summer of the prized pumpkin competition will be one Tori and Jade will never forget!
The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter
A love poem from a father to his two sons, and a tribute to the bees that pollinate the foods we love to eat. "Sometimes bees can be a bit rude. They fly in your face and prance on your food." And yet...without bees, we might not have strawberries for shortcakes or avocados for tacos! Children are introduced to different kinds of bees, "how not to get stung," and how the things we fear are often things we don't fully understand.
UnBEElievables
This book pairs facts about honey bees with fun, engaging poems and colorful illustrations. Through 14 clever poems the book explores topics ranging from bee anatomy to the role of the queen bee to making honey.