By Madeline Sumida, Elementary Program Teacher & Site Coordinator
Photos Courtesy of Madeline Sumida
The Bancroft Kindergarten through second grade crew learned that the smallest creatures do some of the most important jobs on the planet. We kicked off the unit with an April Fools Day gag. I taught a mini lesson on earthworms—how these animals help make good soil by ingesting soil and enriching the soil with their excrement. Then I brought out some little cups filled with dirt and told the class that they would pretend to be earthworms by eating it (dirt, after all, has more nutrients than your average bag of potato chips). Youth dug in after getting a good sniff of the “dirt”—it smelled a lot like Oreos—and enjoyed the spoonfuls of yogurt and gummy worms hidden beneath the cookie crust.
Youth also learned about honeybees and their essential role as pollinators. Without these little gals, we wouldn’t have enough food to feed all the hungry animals. Herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, detritivores—all depend on honey bees (a keystone species) to help plants produce the seeds that keep things growing. The class learned that honeybees are in danger: they’re dying off for mysterious reasons and because of predators, parasites, and habitat destruction. Youth learned the round dance and the waggle dance that bees use to communicate to their hive members where to find food. To test their knowledge, the class divided into teams to play Bee Bingo. Finally, youth made their own little hives, made out of paper boxes that they covered with honeybee facts, and sculpted honeybees out of clay. Youth wore their finished bees to remind everyone that these tiny creatures are capable of amazing things and deserve all the respect and help that we can give them.