Busy as a Bee: A Storytime for National Pollinator Month

Last week, we had a few hundred unexpected visitors to our storytime area in the park…a swarm of honeybees, all clustered together on a small evergreen tree. I had never seen a swam in person before, so it was pretty exciting, but at the same time, I didn’t want to call too much attention to them, in case of curious hands and fingers. Luckily, no one got too close, and by today they had moved along.

Coincidentally, I learned that June is National Pollinator Month, which gave us the perfect opportunity to celebrate our bee friends, along with butterflies, bats, and hummingbirds (even though these frequently fly into our library). I began with a very brief explanation of how these types of creatures help plants grow seeds and many of the fruits and vegetables we eat, by carrying pollen from one flower to another. I brought some flowers as an example, and also shared some pictures of bees, butterflies, and bats, before launching into our stories and songs.

Books:

The Hidden Rainbow by Christie Matheson

This was the perfect introduction to the topic of pollination, since it features bees visiting different colored flowers. Like Matheson’s other books, it also invites the reader to participate by tickling the flowers, blowing a kiss to the lilac tree, and brushing off the snow from the camelias (I had the kids mime these activities in the air). The kids loved calling out the different colors on each page.

Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert

Beautiful book about the life cycle of butterflies, from the eggs they stick to leaves “with butterfly glue” to the caterpillars hatching, eating, and forming a chysalis, and ending with the newly hatched butterflies laying their own eggs. I brought out our Folkmanis butterfly puppet to show the kids the long, curly tongue.

I Am Bat by Morag Hood

I love to read this simple picture book if for no other reason than I get to use my high, squeaky bat voice. Bat loves cherries, and is very sad when somebody steals a few (“Was it you?”). Luckily, some hidden animals leave him a pear to cheer him up again. The bat pictures are adorable, and the book as a whole highlights the fact that many bats only eat fruit.

Rhymes and Songs:

Here is the Beehive

One of my favorite rhymes for baby and toddler storytimes. This was such a hit today that we did it three times:

Here is the beehive (hold up fist)

Where are the bees?

Hiding away where nobody sees.

Watch, and they’ll all come out of their hive!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5! They’re alive! (fly fingers around).

Peanut, Peanut Butter…Jelly!

We did this one after reading The Hidden Rainbow and talking about how bees help some of our favorite fruits grow. I asked the kids what kind of jelly they wanted to make, and we ended up picking strawberries for the second verse.

First you take the peanuts and you pick ’em, you pick ’em,
You pick ’em, pick ’em, pick ’em! (Mime picking peanuts)
Then you smash ’em, you smash ’em, you smash ’em, smash ’em, smash ’em! (clap hands together each time you “smash”)
Then you spread ’em, you spread ’em, you spread ’em, spread ’em, spread ’em! (mime spreading peanut butter)
Singing “Peanut, peanut butter…jelly!
Peanut, peanut butter…jelly!”

Then you take the berries and you pick ’em… (repeat the first verse)

Then you take the sandwich and you bite it, you bite it, you bite it,
Bite it, bite it!
Then you chew it, you chew it, you chew it, chew it, chew it!
Then you swallow it, you swallow it, you swallow it, swallow it, swallow it.
Singing, “Peanut, peanut butter…jelly!
Peanut, peanut butter…jelly!” (I usually sing this part in a slightly garbled voice, as if I have peanut butter on the roof of my mouth. Then we all mime drinking a glass of milk).

Two Little Butterflies

A variation of Two Little Blackbirds. Instead of holding up our thumbs, we waved our hands like butterflies. Click on the triangle for the original version.

Two little butterflies sitting on a hill, (Hold up both hands)
One named Jack, and the other named Jill.
Fly away, Jack! (Put one hand behind your back)
Fly away, Jill! (Put the other hand behind your back)
Come back, Jack! (Bring the first hand out in front).
Come back, Jill! (Bring the second hand out in the front).

Two little butterflies sitting on a cloud,
One was quiet, and the other was loud (I make my voice as loud and obnoxious as possible each time I sing the word “Loud!”)
Fly away, Quiet!
Fly away, Loud!
Come back, Quiet!
Come back, Loud!

Two little butterflies sitting in the snow.
One flew fast!
And the other f-l-e-w s-l-o-w!…

Two little butterflies sitting on a gate.
One was early,
And the other was…late!…  (I like to drag the pauses out as long as possible before saying “Late!” until the kids are all yelling it out.)

You Are My Flower by A. P. Carter

This is a sweet, old song by The Carter Family. I especially love this version by Elizabeth Mitchell. It’s also very easy to play on the ukulele or guitar, with a two chord pattern that repeats all the way through.

[C] The grass is just as green, the sky is just as [G7] blue.
The day is just as bright and the birds are singing [C] too.

You are my [C] flower, that’s blooming in the mountain for [G7] me.
You are my flower, that’s blooming there for [C] me.

The [C] air is just as pure, the sunlight just as [G7] free,
And nature seems to say, it’s all for you and [C] me.

You are my [C] flower, that’s blooming in the mountain for [G7] me.
You are my flower, that’s blooming there for [C] me.

So [C] wear a happy smile, and life will be worth-[G7]while.
Forget your tears, but don’t forget to [C]smile.

You are my [C] flower, that’s blooming in the mountain for [G7] me.
You are my flower, that’s blooming there for [C] me.

When [C] summertime is gone and snow begins to [G7] fall,
Just sing this song and say to one and [C] all.

You are my [C] flower, that’s blooming in the mountain for [G7] me.
You are my flower, that’s blooming there for [C] me.

Stay and Play: Butterfly Squish Art

I got this craft idea from The Craft Train. Basically, I cut out butterflies from theirprovided template ahead of time, then gave one to each child, along with a paintbrush, and a small paper bowl with three different colors of paint. The idea is to brush or drop paint on one half of the butterfly and then fold it up and squish it, so that when you open it up, the pattern appears on both sides. Some kids just painted the whole butterfly, but they all had fun.