Bees and butterflies

Working for the Queen - documentary

I found this great documentary on Prime, Button was glued to it along with the Twins for some parts. We learnt so much as a family about bees and how they live and work. Incredible creatures, I think my favourite piece of information was when they find a new place to make a hive, they all chain together to measure the space before building the hive. I was astonished by this. Daddy's was how important temperature was to them: how they need to work together to use themselves to blanket the Queen and keep her warm and how if they get caught in the rain they need to warm themselves up before they can fly again. Button's favourite fact was that watch bees stand and guard the hive. In the program we see them attack a wasp who was trying it's luck entering the hive. The documentary came up a lot throughout the topic, with Bear (frequently) and Buttercup referencing the moth that disguises itself to steal the honey.

 

Builda bee bot 

This was a great little toy, nice and simple to put together. So it gives the child a lot of confidence while they put it together, a sense of achievement when it is built and then you can decorate it with stickers to make it personal. The children loved watching it wiggle across the floor, giving it a name and calling it their new pet. 

 

Printouts-

The first printout we did was the bee anatomy. While Button wrote out each body part by the bee we Googled any part she didn't know about. She found it really interesting that they have three body parts and as we looked into each part of the body and what organ is in it. We decided that it's a bit like our bodies- our head, then our chest  and then our bellies. While Button did this printout the Twins (with a lot of help) had to find the letter B hiding in the bee hive among other letters and colour it in. They really enjoyed having their own printout and Buttercup did some really great colouring. 
   The second week into Bees, Button picked the poem printout. It came with a verse from a poem about bees, a set of questions to go with the poem and also a chance to write her own bee poem. Button really enjoyed this, she loves poems and it was nice for her to actually study it. It was nice and simple, perfect for her age and a start at really looking at poems. This was always my favourite thing to do in English literature so it was nice seeing her do it. 
   One of the printouts for the Twins was a simple number game, they each had a hive of  numbers with a pile of yellow hexagon shapes. Each time I said a number they had to cover it up with their hexagon shape. The Twins did really well with this, Bear had a little help from Buttercup but overall it really helped me see how well they are doing with their numbers. 

 

Butterfly journals and printouts

These were a printout from homeedprintables. It was nice and simple and each page was the same and could be made into a little book. It asked the children to write a number for what day we were checking on the caterpillars, what stage they were at (so a tick box for either caterpillar, chrysalis or butterfly), then any activity that was happening and the length of the caterpillars. There was also space to draw a picture of what they could see. This of course was too old for the Twins but they enjoyed drawing and telling us what they saw and being big like Button and doing "school work". It got them involved and learning about the caterpillars and they were so excited for them to turn into butterflies. 
   Button loved this because it was not huge amounts of writing, but was documenting what she needed to and talking about it more with me. 
   The printouts were brilliant for all their ages. Button wrote the body parts against the butterfly while the Twins had a butterfly already marked to colour in. They all then had a cut and stick life cycle to do, the Twins had pictures while Button had the words. I love that homeedprintables think of lots of different ages and cater for all of them. 

 

Playdough-

We bought an amazing bee playdough kit from Scarlett senses. It came with two types of dough, one smelling of coffee and one of honey. It also came with black and yellow rice and a great tin of loose bits like grapat honey combs, tiny bees, beautiful stones, artificial flowers and then the best bit, flower bombs. These are great because when you have finished with them you can plant them with the playdough as it's compostable and then it attracts the bees to the garden. 
   All three loved this kit and made so many brillant things. Buttercup kept coming back to making gardens for the bees, Button loved creating bee hives and what the inside could look like. Bear on the other hand wanted to make cars from the playdough and the round pasta pieces which to him looked liked wheels. By the third week, however, he did start making stamps that were like the inside of a bee hive and adding bees to them. It was great watching their minds work as they create and play. 

Science - 

Nectar collection

This was a lot of fun and was actually another printable from homeedprintables. I don't want to give too much away but basically the cheese puffs are like pollen which the bees collect and leave on the next flower. The children used their hands as bees and could see the "pollen" on the tissue flower as they went in for more nectar. The children loved this activity especially as it was food related and they got to eat what they used. It's a great way to visualise how a bee works for little ones. 

 

Making bee wax wraps 

We love bees wax wraps, they keep our food fresh and stop us using clingfilm or foil. They are easy to wash, use and store. So we decided to see how easy they were to make. After a bit of research and looking about to find kits that have everything you need, we decided to give it a go. We got Button to do most of the work. Daddy cut the beautiful bee fabric we had bought with the Twins so they had something to help with and then Button got them all ready in the tin and wax. We let her careful put it in the oven but we removed it and she did the brushing while we held the tin. It took a lot longer for the wax to melt than the instructions said so by the end we took over a bit to get it all done. However, Button saw how it worked and the change in the wax when it was heated. She had seen this before when we did wax dipped leaves before Christmas. They turned out amazing I can't wait to use them knowing we made them ourselves. 

Dramatic play -

This was so much fun to do, we found a printable pack on Pinterest thyst gave you all you needed to make a bee farm and shop. While the children were in bed, we made a hive by painting a box brown and using files as hive frames. We had printed hive frame images to stick on the files, each with a different picture. Some had problems for them to find like a bear, or mouse etc and some were good healthy hive frames with a Queen bee, babies and worker bees. They had inspection sheets so they could check their hives and we gave them pots and glue scrapers (without the glue) to pretend to scrape the wax and honey from each frame. 
   We also put together a garden for them and bee keeper outfits using a hat and scarf and a white shirt and gloves. They also had name badges and posters. It looked amazing.  
   The children woke to the set up and were so amazed by it. We dressed them up and showed them what to do, they loved it. They sat and inspected all the hives, marking off the trouble on their check lists. Button loved being the gardener and looking after any sick bees. It was brilliant seeing them all play together. 

Sensory-

 

Honey slime

This wasnt the right colour at all but the Twins didn't care. They loved it. I made it using Elmer's PVA glue and magic liquid. It was so simple and not that messy. I then added glitter, yellow paint and buttons. You can add anything and make any colour.
  The Twins loved trying to find the bee themed buttons we hid in the slime and pick them out. It was also really good for fine motor skills, like rolling, squeezing, pinching etc. We will definitely be doing this again, especially as Button loved it too and went back twice more throughout the day to play with it. She got it out most mornings that week too.

 

Yellow rice and brown chickpeas

I used the chickpeas and rice I received from tiny.land.play and they were perfect. The colours were vibrant and really enticed the children to want to play. I set up two bowls one to look like a bee pattern and the second to look like a flower. The yellow rice was the nectar and the chick peas were the pollen I also added some egg cartons to represent bee hives and some toy bees and wooden hexagon shapes. I added the usual scoops and spoons for them to pour and stir and explore the sensory play.
   All three loved this sensory. They pretended to be the bees, moving the nectar and pollen to the egg box hives, using the tongs on the chickpeas and the scoops for the rice. They also loved pouring big scoops over the trays. It was fun to sit and talk to them about bees while they played and explain that they take the nectar to their hive to make honey. The documentary we watched came in to play for this sensory.

 

Butterfly small world

This was a lot of fun. I found all our nature bits like wood chips, wood slices, fake leaves and petals, then added some foam peanuts as eggs and toy caterpillars and butterflies. It was as simple as that and so easy to tidy up after as well. Yet this kept all three occupied for ages. They built little homes for their caterpillars and hid the eggs under the leaves and petals; they fed their caterpillars; then used the foam peanuts as chrysalis before they turned into butterflies. They spoke to each other about who was the Mummy and where the babies were hiding. They also spoke about them eating all the leaves and shared them between themselves so nicely. The Twins actually worked together to make their home and gave each other ideas and shared the items between themselves. There were no fighting or arguments. Instead they just called me over when they were done and everything was so lovely and calm. I loved watching this and how their homes took form. They both watched Button as she built hers and spoke to her about the caterpillars' colours and where her babies were hiding. It was a lovely hour of play.

 

Being a bee, nectar collection.

So for this I cut some flower shapes with a hole in the middle, the size of some small tubs I had. I taped the flowers to the tubs and filled the tubs with yellow water, this was their nectar. I then gave them an egg carton with some baby bee lavae. Each child had a pipette which, as they were the bee, was...I guess their mouth, to suck up the nectar and deliver it to the hive. They love water play but something so simple as this I didn't expect then to happily sit there for nearly an hour playing. Yet they did, sharing the flowers without fighting, filling the "cells" with out moaning at each other. They were actually like real bees- they knew they all had a job to do and they got on with it. Button focused on covering the lavae with nectar and then informed me she needed something to act as wax to cover the lavae and other filled cells. I was pleasantly surprised that she wanted to make it as real as possible and I quickly hunted for something yellow near me that could work. I found some plastic yellow cogs to another toy and she was happy enough with them. It was lovely to see them bringing real life to their game.

 

B sensory

To help the Twins start to recognise the letter B and it's sound I hid lots of toys beginning with B in a big tub of Beans. They loved digging around in the beans to find the treasure. As they found each item, we said what it was was and emphasised the B. So we would say B,B,B,B,bear etc. I hid a bear, block, book, bead, butterfly, bug, berry, banana and lots of B letters. They did really well and Bear even pulled out a letter B and told me what it was before I asked him. So the few weeks of looking at the letter and playing with it is working for them.

Baking 

 

Honey cakes 

We used a great and easy recipe from homeedprintables. Simple to do and great for little hands. Basically, everything goes in and you stir. The Twins loved helping me weigh it all out and crack the eggs. Having their big sister to hand was brilliant. They copy everything she does and she's a keen baker. They all stirred together and it meant they all had a spoon each to lick. 15 minutes in the oven and done, we had a plate of yummy honey cakes. We will definitely be doing these again.


Dandelion Honey 

Well this was easier than I ever thought it could be. The children loved collecting all the dandelions and washing them. We needed 2 cups full. We boiled them for 25 minutes with two slices of limes (should be lemons but it still tasted amazing) in a cup and a half of water. Then we left it overnight to stew in the liquid. 
   The next morning the children were so excited to see how it looked and smell it. We drained the liquid into a bowl and squeezed all the liquid from the flowers through a sieve. Once we had all the liquid we weighed it. We need the same weight of sugar as the liquid. Then we need to stir it on a low heat until it's turned thicker into a syrup. This is where I think I might have gone wrong and used too high a heat, as ours turned out like a rock hard sweet lol. However, it tastes amazing and I don't even like honey. We are definitely trying this again! The children loved foraging for the flowers and seeing how they could be turned into something edible. 

 

Honey biscuits

This was a new recipe to us, that I found on Pinterest. Even though it was straight forward and easy for the children to do, they spread in the oven so what could of been nice small fat biscuits were actually flat thin ones. However, either way they taste great and the children loved baking them. 
I don't think I left it long enough in the fridge really but I had three rather excited children at my feet asking if it was ready yet, it rolled well enough but would fall apart once they rolled them into the sugar. It was quick a greasy recipe so wonder if I use less butter next time they could work better. Never mind though we all still ate them. 

Art-

 

Cut and stick bee

This was a simple activity we got from our homeedprintables bee pack. Just the Twins did this one as it was rather simple and Button was busy with Daddy this day. I pre cut all the pieces as they are rather young to cut around things but I did give them safety scissors and paper to practise with. I then gave them a picture to copy and left them to create their bees. Buttercup did some brillant lines for her bee and carefully glued the backs of her pieces and concentrated on where she placed each piece. I love watching her work. 
   Bear was a little different, he rushed his black lines so he could add some red to his bee, he glued the pieces where he wanted not wanting to copy the picture. Even though he rushed he was a lot more creative with his picture. I love the differences I get to see as they work. 

 

Watercolour bee 

This was a great printable from homeedprintables. We decided to paint these in the garden as the weather was nice. The children loved using the watercolours and didn't go for our normal bee colours. This got us talking about different types of bees and their colour, for example there is a blue orchard bee and a white digger bee and even a purple carpenter bee. It's amazing how something as simple as the children using their imaginations to paint their bees can lead to such an interesting conversation. 

 

Painted butterflies

The age old folded paper butterflies. Who hasn't done this before for art? We have done it a few times before now but not with added glitter. Bear has been obsessed with glitter (sparkles) since he saw them on the side in the art box, so I knew I had to add them into some sort of craft. I had this craft in mind for a while and thought it was a great opportunity to introduce glitter to the Twins as they can sprinkle it in to the wet paint with no need for glue. 
  The Twins loved it. I folded the butterflies in half so they only had one side to paint otherwise they tend to paint both sides. Then when they were done painting I folded it back on itself to get the symmetric pattern. Then they add the glitter randomly. They made some beautiful butterflies which are now on our learning room wall.

 

Window box with bees and butterflies

This is so much fun, it took us most of afternoon and looks amazing for all the passers -by. 

You will need:
A box,
Card,
Paints,
Straws,
Shredded paper,
Egg cartons,
Brushes,
glue,
Scissors,
a sponge.

Start by painting your box any design you like. Then cut up flower shapes, bees and butterflies. Decorate however you like. We painted our flowers and butterflies. The bees I cut from yellow paper and just added black lines and white wings. 
   Attach the flower to the straw by feeding the straw through the middle of the flower and then feed the straw through the middle of the egg carton to hold the flower in place. Add the butterflies to straws as well and tape these to the back of the box. Add the sponge to the bottom of the box and push the straw into the sponge to hold it upright. Then pack the box with shredded paper (we used a brown colour so it looked like mud) and stick the bees around the box and flowers. A nice afternoon of arts and crafts with a gorgeous end result to put in your window to share with your neighbours. 
   My three loved it and were really happy with how their window boxes turned out. 

 

Bottletop caterpillars

You will need:
Paint,
Paper,
Bottletops.

We used 5 bottle tops and 5 different colours but you can use as many or as little as you like. I made one up for the children to see, then left them to create their own. Buttercup liked to do lines with the bottle tops which was like the ones I did, she even asked for a pencil to add the eye and legs like I had. Bear just enjoyed using the bottle tops and told me he was making lots and lots of caterpillars which was brilliant. He did his super quick because he wanted to draw with the pens.

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