Plants, Pollinators & Gardening in Second Grade [photos]

by: Michele Johnson, Second Grade Teacher
Working on your fear of honeybees, or curious about other local pollinators? Second grade is the place to BEE! Shorecrest second graders are currently engaged in one of their biggest investigations of the year: Plants and Pollinators. This study provides many wonderful opportunities to explore and appreciate the natural world around us. 

Students began with a deep dive into the habitat/needs, roles, and anatomy of honeybees. Alongside local beekeeper Josh Harris of Queen and Colony, students have explored the on-campus beehive, looked closely at a frame from a hive in a setup similar to an ant farm, and tasted various shades of honey made from different nectars. There were many opportunities for questions and wonderings. Unfortunately, one fact that they learned is that this has been an incredibly tough year for honey production. Weather changes have impacted the timing of typical flowering and pollination, and Hurricane Ian wiped out many blossoms and bees. Hopefully Josh and other beekeepers are able to get back on track soon, as bees alone are responsible for pollinating 80% of flowering plants and ⅓ of the crops we eat (http://honeylove.org/bees/). 

With this new empathy for pollinator populations, students shifted their learning to the types of plants that pollinators prefer so they could plant a pollinator garden. The book “Flower Talk” was a great resource and taught students about the language of flowers. They speak through color, shape, size and scent. Did you know that bees can’t see the color red, and they prefer yellow, purple, and blue flowers? Butterflies like a variety of colors, but they often look for flowers with platforms so they can rest while drinking nectar. 

Shorecrest band teacher Mrs. Brier visited as a Guest Expert to share a collection of her own pollinator photographs. Additional research included sorting through books and seed packets. Students came up with a list of pollinator plants they wanted to grow on campus, and the teachers made it happen! 

Supported by local gardener and alumnus Ray Wunderlich III, the initial planting took place this week. A variety of pollinator plants, herbs, and veggies are now in the garden that second graders will eventually get to eat! The Chargers will continue to tend the gardens by watering, weeding, harvesting and replanting throughout the year.  

Some additional favorite experiences from the study include observing dead honeybees through microscopes (see the photos for some familiar volunteers: retired teachers Susan Owen and DeAnn Larson), and exploring interactive, 3D bee websites (fields, hives, and more) with the support of Lower School Technology Coordinator, Ms. Deegan. 

The Kepko Family, inspired by Shorecrest’s roots as an outdoor school, is helping to create a new Outdoor Classroom in the Lower School garden through the Laube Family Foundation. Their gift supported the first phase - an outdoor classroom platform, shade sail, and fresh water source for watering plants. With a little muscle and a lot of sweat, a crew of parent volunteers weeded, tilled, and prepped the soil to prepare for planting.

"I did not know they could make it look THIS good!" second grader Weston B. exclaimed.

Thank you to everyone who helped support the second grade Plants, Pollinators & Gardening projects thus far!

Find more photos here.

Shorecrest

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
Phone: (727) 522-2111  |  Fax: (727) 527-4191
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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.