A Monarch Waystation and Pollinating Garden
The Butterfly Garden is built in the shape of a butterfly. The beauty of the color in its flowers welcomes the three main pollinators of the Great Lakes region: the bee, the butterfly, and the hummingbird. Here the children will learn that there are specific pollinators for specific plants. Each pollinator is attracted to a particular flower structure, color, and smell, thereby allowing that species of flower to reproduce via the reproduction of seeds. With the knowledge of pollination, children will continually investigate our gardens to see if we are maintaining the plants necessary to attract the bees, the butterflies, and the hummingbirds. That will qualify our gardens as “pollinating gardens” and a “Monarch Waystation”…places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Our Butterfly Garden has been certified as a
The children learn how necessary pollinators are. They discover that one out of every three bites of food we take exists due to pollination — apples, blueberries, bananas, tomatoes, melon, any vegetable or tree that has a flower. Once this is learned, the children want to know how to take care of the pollinators. That desire leads to the children wanting to investigate which plants are needed to be in the gardens to entice the pollinators.
The children look at the shape of the main pollinators: the bee, the butterfly, and the hummingbird. They try to match the pollinator’s form to the flower that it will pollinate. A butterfly has a very light body with four dainty legs so it needs a plant with a landing pad — the zinnia. The hummingbird is in constant flight and has a V-shaped beak, so the flowers it pollinates are V-shaped. The bee can pollinate everything due to its small size. It is the only pollinator that can get into the smallest of closed flowers, the snap dragon. Knowing these dynamics of the pollinator, the children determine if the gardens have the right plants for each pollinator. The children will be able to sustain the gardens.
Following the children’s identification of the plants that are growing in the Butterfly garden, came their realization that the garden did not have enough plants to attract the hummingbirds. They asked if there was room to add plants for the hummingbirds, and the idea of a new garden was formed. They wrote a Kids Grant to the D181 Foundation and raised the money to buy the plants for the garden. Twenty-three years after the original gardens were formed, a Hummingbird Garden was designed.
In the Butterfly and Hummingbird gardens, we study pollination, adaptability, biodiversity, and sustainability.
Since pollination is introduced as kindergarten lesson, the children will be pre-assessed and post-assessed on two questions:
• What do we know about plants?
• How do I feel about… bees?…butterflies?…hummingbirds?
• What good do bees do?…butterflies?…hummingbirds?
The children will observe the animals that come to the garden and investigate the main shapes and colors of the flowers. They learn that the flowers come from the germination of their seeds and the pollination of their flowers.Which animal will pollinate which flower?
The hummingbird is the easiest to discover. The shape of the hummingbird’s beak, a V-shape, fits nicely into the V-shape of the lily.
The bee might be next. The flowers on the snapdragon curl into a little ball shape. Because the bee is so tiny, it can wedge its way inside of each flower to get its nectar. The bee comes out loaded with pollen.
The butterfly is the biggest of the three. It also has four long slender legs that need a good place to land, so our butterflies need a platform to land on. Think of it as an airplane landing on a runway. The butterfly needs the broad flower of the zinnia as a landing base.
Children can now see that the shape of the animal and the shape of the flower are very important in knowing which pollinating animal goes to which flower.
• observe that bright colors attract pollinators.
• observe and record the different pollinators and the types of plants they see in the gardens.
• realize that there are not enough plants to attract the hummingbird.
• ask to bring more plants to the garden for the hummingbirds.
• research hummingbird plants.
• write a grant to obtain money to buy the plants.
• form and plant a Hummingbird Garden beneath the first grade windows to attract the pollinators.
• realize that they have met all the requirements to join The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.
• compose an invitation to their parents to come take a walk with them through the gardens.
Children need to become explorers of their natural world. As they experience this world, they will come to know how intricate it is and how miraculous it is to see and understand the relationship between the plants and animals in their world. They need to ask themselves how they are connected to the plants and animals. They need to begin to know that they have a responsibility to help preserve this world because they are the ones who need to care for it now and in the future. especially with the environmental challenges of habitat loss and climate change. We want them to know that theirs is a beautiful planet that needs their care. The Butterfly and Hummingbird Gardens will provide experiences to foster their stewardship of the planet for generations to come.