Last summer, my children were hiking through the woods with my husband when they stepped on a bee nest. I was in the kitchen and I could hear the screams and knew something was wrong. I met them in the backyard, where we quickly pulled off shirts and pants and assessed the injuries. It was a rough day for my little trio. As uncomfortable as bee stings can be, I think it was the fear that was the worst part of the incident. For weeks, they were fearful entering the woods. If they heard buzzing, they would flee. They steered clear of flowers and were afraid to eat popsicles outdoors for fear of attracting a bee.
All this bee drama made for a long summer over here. We are a nature-loving family and bees are an important part of our world! I made a mental note to study bees during the winter months, once the fear had worn off a bit, in hopes that I could turn my bee-phobic crew into little bee lovers. I did not want another summer of bee-related stress. I’m happy to report that earlier this winter we enjoyed a simple bee study complete with candle making and honey.
It was fun and delicious and I hope it will help us to appreciate the importance of bees come summer. Today, I’m sharing how we did it, just in case you are suffering bee woes too!
Simple Bee Study with Candle Making & Honey
Earlier this winter, we were enjoying Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder and my children were enthralled reading about Almanzo’s mother making her own candles. I thought this interest was a perfect way to learn about the importance of bees. And so I came up with a plan. I picked up some bee books at the library, ordered a candle making kit online, and grabbed our jar of honey.
I set everything out on our kitchen island one morning and we enjoyed Coffee and Books… with a spoonful of our favorite local honey!
The books we used for our bee study:
Whenever I plan a simple unit study like this one, I begin with fantastic books. Fortunately, there are oodles of wonderful bee-related reads on the market today. I think of our morning Coffee and Books as a conversation. Yes, I’m reading aloud to my children but we pause and talk about the books. If there is a question, I have my laptop handy. We can easily put the book down for a few minutes and pop on the internet to research the answer or to watch a YouTube video. I’ve found that so much learning happens when we start our mornings this way.
Here are the five bee-themed books that we selected:
Bee Lessons by Howard Scott
The Beeman by Laurie Krebbs and Valeria Cis
The Fascinating World of Bees by Angles Julivertr
The Flight of the Honeybee by Raymond Huber
The Magic School Bus: Inside a Bee Hive by Joanna Cole
After reading, it was time for more bee-related rabbit holes!
I love to dive down rabbit holes with my children and see where the adventure takes us. I am always amazed by the learning that happens when I just relax and let it take place! Together, we watched multiple videos featuring bees on YouTube, including this Magic School Bus episode. We also watched videos on beekeeping, beeswax, and candle making. We finished off our study by watching this fascinating documentary:
I have always wanted to make beeswax candles. Every time Jamie at Simple Homeschool shares her candlemaking post, I want to find some beeswax and get to work. The thing is, I know my children and they aren’t ready …yet. I know they would be interested in the process for a little bit and then they would wander off, leaving me in the kitchen all alone. I wanted to find something that would hold my children’s attention in the hopes that next year we can follow Jamie’s lead!
Fortunately, I found the perfect solution.
This kit includes everything you need to design your very own beeswax candles. With this kit, you use beeswax sheets to roll and design your own candles. It is perfect for young children because there is no heat involved. This is a wonderfully fun, creative activity that works on those fine motor skills. The candles make great gifts, too. My trio used the leftovers to give a candlemaking lesson to their grandparents
Sometimes posts sit in my drafts folder and collect dust. I start to write about a topic or an activity and then I am distracted by life and the post gets buried. That is exactly what happened with this post. We enjoyed this simple unit study months ago when snow was still on the ground.
But now, summer weather has arrived. The flowers are blooming and the bees are everywhere. I’m delighted to report that my children have been fascinated watching the bees on the flowers in our yard. They have talked about bee dances and the pollen baskets on their knees and pollination of flowers. Recently, they enjoyed another bee study in the nature class that they attend. They learned about bees, beekeeping, and enjoyed tasting local honeycomb.
Last week, we enjoyed a simple pond study and afterward we returned to our backyard with our Nature Explorer Packs and watched the bees in our yard. It was such a peaceful afternoon.
Bees are no longer frightening to my children. Instead, they are fascinating. We have decided to celebrate this change by enjoying a family movie night together this week. What will we be watching, you wonder?
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: What super simple unit studies have you enjoyed lately? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram