Explaining the process of pollination to your children can be challenging. Botany is a fascinating subject, but it can also be relatively complex. This brief guide could help you simplify this subject and discuss pollination in terms your child understands.
Of course, it’s helpful to review some key terms, and it’s easiest to address the process of pollination by taking things step-by-step. Pollination for kids has never been more fun!
Key Terms to Explore
Before we jump into the step-by-step process of pollination, it’s crucial to discuss some related terms. When talking about pollination with your child, you’ll want to use the correct scientific terminology. Some of the most notable terms that may crop up include:
Before explaining the steps involved in pollination, you may want to familiarize yourself and your little one with these words. If possible, use a recently picked or cut flower to help you define these terms.
Azalea flowers are an excellent choice, as they have prominent anthers and stigmas. Still, most blooming varieties of flowers should work well in helping you define these key terms. We’ve also provided some simple definitions to help you along.
A flower’s anther makes pollen. It’s usually orange, yellow, red, or brown. You can find a flower’s anthers at the ends of wavy tubes that stick out from the middle of the flower. Each anther is like a tiny basket that makes and holds pollen.
Nectar is a sugary liquid inside of flowers that bees and hummingbirds eat! Bees use nectar to make sweet, yummy honey. This stuff attracts the birds and the bees to flowers. Without nectar, pollination might be far trickier.
Pollen is something that flowers use to make seeds. A plant’s anthers hold onto pollen until wind, birds, or bees arrive. When that happens, it lets some of its pollen go. When this sticky stuff reaches a new flower, it can cause that flower to grow seeds.
When the seeds drop, new plants can grow, and fresh flowers can begin to bloom. Pollen is usually yellow, orange, or white. But it can come in all kinds of colors, even purple!
A pollinator is any bug, bird, or animal that helps pollen travel from flower to flower. Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and bats are all common pollinators.
The stigma is a tube-like part of a flower centered in the middle of the petals. This part absorbs new pollen to form seeds.
Step-by-Step: What Is Pollination?
After explaining the above terms, you can go ahead and start describing how pollination works! Fortunately, this process is easily broken down into five primary steps. These steps are:
- A Flower Grows
- A Pollinator Gets Hungry
- The Pollen Sticks to the Pollinator
- The Pollinator Keeps Eating
- Seeds Begin to Form
If you’ve still got that flower, you can use it once more while describing pollination and how it works. Pairing these steps with a kid-friendly infographic is also an excellent option.
A Flower Grows
At first, a flower grows. Flowers are brightly-colored things that plants make when they’re ready to produce seeds. They often smell very nice, and they come in many different colors. Many flowers make a special liquid called nectar. This stuff tastes sweet, and many insects and birds enjoy snacking on it.
A Pollinator Gets Hungry
When a honeybee or a hummingbird gets hungry, it visits a flower. Using a long tube, these creatures slurp up a flower’s nectar. This snack makes them feel happy and healthy. But while they’re enjoying their nectar, the flower’s pollen can start to stick to their feathers or hair.
The Pollen Sticks to the Pollinator
By the time a pollinator is done drinking nectar, their mouths, wings, and legs might be covered in sticky pollen. There are no napkins in the animal world, and pollinators can get very messy. If the pollinator’s tummy is still rumbling for yummy nectar, it might visit a new flower and start eating.
The Pollinator Keeps Eating
While slurping on some nectar, the pollen covering a pollinator’s body might fall off and land on the new flower. When this happens, some of the pollen might get into the flower’s stigma. After that, the pollen begins to transform.
Seeds Begin to Form
Pollen can travel down the tube-like stigma and become a seed. Seeds can take several weeks to form, so gardeners must be patient while they wait.
Without pollination, our world would be far less green. Describing the pollination process to your little one is a fantastic way to help them gain a greater appreciation of nature, plants, and animals. If possible, try incorporating this lesson into daily gardening tasks.
Getting your child outside and hands-on might be one of the best ways to pique their interests and help them learn. Hopefully, this pollination for kids guide can help inspire you and your little one to learn more about the wild world around you!