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I haven't really made a big announcement about it, but on October 6, 2020 my picture book, How to Build an Insect (illustrated by Anne Lambelet) is coming out. There is a preorder page on Amazon, but -- sorry -- no cover yet. Edit:  The publication date has been moved to April 2021.

To celebrate, I'm starting a series of posts to encourage children to learn about insects through building models, creating art and making crafts. Each post will feature ideas for a particular insect group.

making bee models for kids Just in time for spring, let's make some bees!

Because we are looking at bees from a STEAM perspective, it is important to emphasize that bees are insects. They have three distinct body regions:  head, thorax, and abdomen. Bees have six legs and four wings attached to the thorax. They have eyes and antennae on their heads. Creating an accurate model will reinforce these facts.

First, gather photographs of bees and age-appropriate books on the topic. Freshly emerged this month and with many starred reviews, we recommend the picture book Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann. For a full summary and review, fly over to our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil.

Activity 1. Paper models of bees

Gather:

  • Construction paper
  • Age-appropriate scissors
  • Markers and/or crayons
  • Glue sticks or tape
  • Computer paper or newspaper for wings

For the youngest children, cut out ovals for the head, thorax and abdomen, as well as paper strips to be the legs and antennae. Cut elongate triangles of white paper or newspaper for wings.

Have the children assemble the parts and glue together.

Add wings and decorate.

Honey bee paper model

For older children, make a copy of the  honey-bee-body-template (PDF).

Cut out body parts from construction paper or computer paper, assemble, and decorate.

Detail Note: What color are bees?

Check out any bee craft on the internet and they are likely to have contrasting yellow and black stripes. Bold, contrasting colors like that are examples of warning coloration, a sign that animal is defended in some way.

Not all bees are yellow and black, though. They can be almost any color.

Honey bees are orangish to brown and black.

Public domain photograph from USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab Flickr page.

This sweat bee resembles the hues of a peacock:  teal, blues, and purple.

Public domain photograph from USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab Flickr page.

This one is green and gold.

The bottom line is to let the children explore color. No need to limit them to yellow and black.

Activity 2. Draw bees

Older children may want to use their art skills and draw bees. Check out the video below for step by step instructions. Cool!


If a child is not confident about drawing, consider starting with a stencil.

bee-stencilThe stencil can be filled in using crayons, colored pencils, or markers, but I chose oil pastels.

bee-stencil-step-1

Make a heavy outline of the stencil with the oil pastel.

stencil-fill-inUsing a finger or bit of tissue, draw the pastels from the edge by rubbing. This creates a shading effect.

finished-bee-stencilRemove the stencil and fill in details like antennae, if desired.

Activity 3. Model bee


(Amazon Affiliate link)

Gather:

  • Model Magic or air-dry clay
  • Chenille stems (also known as fuzzy stems or pipe cleaners)
  • Plastic water bottle (empty)
  • Age-appropriate scissors

Form the head, thorax, and abdomen out of lumps of air-dry clay or Model Magic. Join them together. (Hint:  Using short pieces of chenille embedded between the body sections will create added support.) Add contrasting-colored ovals to head for eyes.

Cut 2 chenille stem pieces for antennae and insert into clay head. Cut 6 chenille stem pieces for legs. Insert into clay thorax.

Cut elongate triangle wing-shaped pieces from an empty plastic water bottle to form wings. Overlap and embed the attachment end into the thorax, so the bottoms of the wings cover the abdomen.

I purposely left the instructions a bit vague to allow for creativity, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Hope we've inspired you to make a bee!

Want more activities?

See our Pinterest board of bee crafts with some fun ways to display the work, too.

Pinterest Board

For activity suggestions sorted by age, check out Africanized Honey Bees on the Move lesson plans at The University of Arizona, for example Lesson 1.1, The Honey Bee Body.

For more children's books about bees, visit our growing list at Science Books for Kids.

For the final day of our week long STEAM festival, we are highlighting math. Sarah at Share It! Science is looking for the golden ratio in the garden. Here at Growing with Science we are going to celebrate STEM Friday by featuring some new math books and related activities.

stemfriday

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The expert team of Hilary Koll and Steve Mills have developed a unique series of math books illustrated by Vladimir Aleksic. Each feature gritty, real world applications of math with problems to solve embedded within the story. The challenges vary in difficulty and math skills needed.

In Solve a Crime (You Do the Math) Alex, an undercover police detective, shows how math can help catch a criminal. For example, on one page the reader is asked to use co-ordinates to map the evidence and then look on a grid to calculate the distance between certain items. These problems will require a pencil and piece of paper to do the work.

The graphic-style illustrations are bold and serious, adding to the true-to-life feel. Want to see how it looks? You can check out a sample of some of the pages at Google Books.

Related activities:
Math Mavens Mysteries has a Time for Crime math mystery to get students warmed up, complete with audio clips (index to all math mysteries with level of difficulty).

Age Range: 6 - 8 years
Publisher: QEB Publishing (April 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 160992732X
ISBN-13: 978-1609927325

Fly a Jet Fighter (You Do the Math) follows pilot Katie as she handles data, interprets tables, and reads dials and scales. The goal is to create a squadron of jet fighter aces and complete the mission.

An additional activity to accompany this book might be a making a paper plane (Instructions for nine different models).

Age Range: 6 - 8 years
Publisher: QEB Publishing (April 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1609927311
ISBN-13: 978-1609927318

Launch a Rocket into Space (You Do the Math) follows each stage of the  space mission to make sure the rocket blasts clear of the atmosphere and returns safely. It features astronaut Michael who helps the reader compete the math exercises and learn about everything from fractions to timelines. A few problems will require a protractor to measure angles.

Once again, here's a preview from Google Books:

Each of the books has a glossary and the answers for all the questions are in the back matter.

Although recommended for ages 6-8, these books could also be useful for older children who are struggling with math concepts or don't quite see how the math they are learning might be useful.

The books in the You Do the Math series would be perfect for homeschoolers and after school math clubs because they can be entirely child-directed reading.

Age Range: 6 - 8 years
Publisher: QEB Publishing (June 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 160992729X
ISBN-13: 978-1609927295

Related:

Making Room for Math at Science Buddies has instructions for tons of math activities.

Don't forget to visit our growing list of math books for children (from counting books to high school level) at Science Books for Kids.

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Disclosures: The books were provided by Quarto Publishing Group USA for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

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STEAM-festival-button-latest

Our activity schedule is as follows:

June 22: Science
Growing with Science: Science activities for Kids
Share it! Science: Are You a Scientist?

June 23: Technology
Growing with Science: Technology for Kids
Share it! Science: Exploring Kid's Opportunities in Technology

June 24: Engineering
Growing with Science: Engineering Activities for Kids
Share it! Science: Rube Goldberg Machines- an Engineering Challenge

June 25: Art with a STEM focus
Growing with Science: Art Activities for Kids with a STEM Focus
Share it! Science: Family STEAM Night- Where Art Meets Science!

Today:  Math
Growing with Science: this post
Share It! Science: Golden Ratio in the Garden

We would love to hear your questions or suggestions for STEAM-related projects to share with others. Let's heat up the summer with STEAM!

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Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

Share It! Science and Growing with Science are pleased to announce we are teaming up for a week long Children's Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) Festival. Please join us for information and project ideas to help your family explore STEAM-related activities for the summer and beyond.

Today we are highlighting art with a STEM focus. Sarah at Share It! Science has an awesome description of activities for a Family STEAM Night: Where Art Meets Science. Here at Growing with Science we are going to investigate string theory using art.

flower-border

Whether art should be included with STEM (making the acronym STEAM) is not universally accepted. STEM advocates argue that the STEM acronym was conceived to promote the subjects that needed an extra push. STEAM backers say including art might draw some reluctant students to STEM through the back door, as well as create more well-rounded citizens.

The fact is, many scientists are interested in art and if they are not actively using art for their careers, probably have art-related hobbies. At the same time, many artists are using STEM to create innovative new techniques. The two have never been mutually exclusive and the  boundaries may be blurrier than ever.

Some obvious places art and STEM overlap:

  • Scientific illustration
  • The maker movement
  • Archeology
  • Architecture
  • Industrial design
  • Web design

Art also helps students explore abstract constructs in more concrete ways. Let's look at an example.

Exploring String Theory

String theory (or superstring theory) is the complex and abstract idea from quantum mechanics that ridiculously tiny strands of energy or "strings" vibrate to create all the particles and forces in the universe(s). And, by the way, they are vibrating in 11 dimensions.

Got that? If not, Brian Greene has a TED talk called Making Sense of String Theory that might help.

String Theory for Kids

Who better to explain string theory to kids than another kid? Shaun-Michael Diem-Lane, who was eleven when he made this video, has obviously been thinking about string theory a lot. Watch how he uses concrete examples and art to make his explanation easier to understand.

 

(Note: There might be a wee bit of confusion between energy and matter in the video).

Creating String Theory Art

Painting with rubber bands is one way to think about the energy and chaos of string theory.

1. Rubber band paint brush

Gather:

  • Rubber bands of different sizes
  • Pencil or paint brush to serve as a handle.
  • Acrylic paint
  • Small, shallow bowls or plates to hold paint
  • Paper

(Affiliate link)

Using a pencil or paint brush as a handle, gather a few rubber bands into a bundle. Hold them against the pencil and fasten using another rubber band wrapped around, creating a "mop" of rubber bands. Help of an adult may be required for this step.

rubber-band-paint-brush-07

Pour the paint into a shallow bowl or plate. Dip the rubber bands in the acrylic paint and then apply to paper. Experiment with different techniques, such as dragging the rubber bands across the paper, hopping the paint brush with the rubber bands down, etc. Then try different colors.

2. Rubber band launching device

Ever launch a rubber band using your finger?

Figure out a device to launch rubber bands at paper taped or fixed to a wall. Dip different-sized rubber bands in different colors of acrylic paint and launch them at the paper for a random effect.

sting-theory-rubberband-art02

Having trouble thinking up ideas? Mars Needs Rubber is a physics experiment that evaluates one rubber band launching method (direct .pdf link)

Other STEM and Art Resources to give you some ideas:

 

Did you like our merging of science and art? Would you like to see more posts like this? Just let us know. 

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Disclosures: The book above was from our local library. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

___________________________________
STEAM-festival-button-latest

Our activity schedule is as follows:

June 22: Science
Growing with Science: Science activities for Kids
Share it! Science: Are You a Scientist?

June 23: Technology
Growing with Science: Technology for Kids
Share it! Science: Exploring Kid's Opportunities in Technology

June 24: Engineering
Growing with Science: Engineering Activities for Kids
Share it! Science: Rube Goldberg Machines- an Engineering Challenge

June 25: Art with a STEM focus
Growing with Science: this post
Share it! Science: Family STEAM Night- Where Art Meets Science!

June 26:  Math
Growing with Science: New math books for kids
Share It! Science: The Golden Ratio in the Garden

We would love to hear your questions or suggestions for STEAM-related projects to share with others. Let's heat up the summer with STEAM!