First Graders Save The Bees!

This spring, I worked with my dear friend Dezire Clarke and her class of first graders at ACCESS Academy on pollinator curriculum. I have been slowly working on writing a children’s book about pollinators, and collaborating with Dezire and these creative young people was an excellent opportunity to add fuel to my writing endeavor. The classroom pollinator project Dezire and I worked on together could easily be replicated by other teachers.

On my first visit to the school, I introduced myself to the class as an “apiculturalist” or beekeeper, and did a short power point presentation to illustrate some concepts about the importance of pollinators. You can download and view my powerpoint here:

Pollinator PowerPoint by Madelyn Morris, M.S.

The students then had time to reflect on what they had learned in their journals. They also had a significant stack of books about pollinators in the classroom to peruse.

On my next visit, we discussed what makes good habitat for pollinators. We also talked about how we share space with pollinators and other important insects right there on the school grounds, in the Sabin School Garden. These wonderful garden spaces they share with other students at school is also valuable pollinator habitat! We then visited the gardens as entomologists – moving slowly and mindfully, making observations and notes in our journals about the insects we came across.


Observing insects in the Sabin Edible Garden

Observing insects in the Sabin Edible Garden

Young Entomologists

Young Entomologists

Mindful observations in the schoolyard garden

Mindful observations in the schoolyard garden

On my third visit, we talked more about some of the challenges facing pollinators, highlighting components of the excellent research and publications put out by the Xerces Society: Overuse of pesticides, lack of habitat, and lack of flower diversity.

After sharing the realities of the problems currently facing pollinators, we wanted to give these young students a sense of purpose and power. We introduced the concept of being an activist – sharing knowledge with others to try to make a change and make things better.

Taking on the role of an activist, students got busy creating informational posters about how others can help the bees. They also put together seed packets with pollinator-friendly seeds provided by the Xerces Society to pass out to people and empower them to help pollinators in their own gardens.

Colorful pollinator seed packets created by students

My friend Jen Davis is a passionate pollinator activist, whom I met teaching classes about pollinators for the Portland Fruit Tree Project. She is working on a campaign targeting the systemic pesticides marketed by Bayer Corporation, which increasing scientific evidence shows direct implications with honeybee deaths and Colony Collapse Disorder (You can read more about this issue here). I shared with the ACCESS Academy students some of the posters Jen designed to spread the word about this issue, to give them some inspiration.

Poster created by Jen Davis to raise awareness about Bayer pesticides’ implication in honeybee die-offs


Poster created by Jen Davis – back side

After working diligently on their posters and seed packets, our first graders were ready to spread the word! Dezire organized an activist march to Whole Foods Market, where the students carried their signs and passed out their seed packets to shoppers and people passing by.


Students gather outside school to begin the pollinator march

Students gather outside school to begin the pollinator march


"Help save the bees, stop using pesticides!"

“Help save the bees, stop using pesticides!”

how to save the beeshelp pollinators1st grade picket signs

Stop by Mickelberry Garden’s Farmer’s Market Booth this summer, and you may be able to score a student-created button or pollinator-friendly seed packet! 🙂

save the bees pinHere are a few student reflections:

Dezire and I worked together in the Sabin School Gardens a few years ago, while I was working as a garden coordinator. Our collaboration and Dezire’s achievements with her students was highlighted in the book entitled “Learning Gardens and Sustainability Education: Bringing Life to Schools and Schools to Life” by Dilafruz Williams and Jonathan Brown. View and purchase this wonderful book here:



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