Teach Kids About Pollination

Before flowers can produce they must be pollinated. Pollination is the transfer of pollen by pollinators, wind, or other means. This process occurs when pollen, which is produced in the plant’s male reproductive organ, or stamen, is exposed to the pistil found within the female’s reproductive part. Once pollination takes place, seeds begin to develop. Pollination is an important part of a plant’s life cycle, from flowering plants to non-flowering ones. Without pollination, most plants could not produce fruit or set seeds.

A Natural Attraction

Pollination usually occurs naturally (open pollination), and most often as the result of insects, birds, and small mammals. The sticky pollen from flowering plants clings to their bodies, where it is carried from one plant to another. Honeybees carry out more pollination then any other insect, which includes ants, beetles, butterflies and moths. Birds are also responsible for pollination, especially hummingbirds. Small mammals, such as bats, are pollinators as well. Discuss the role of insects and other pollinators with kids as well as the various ways that flowers attract them.

Explain how various insects are attracted to specific flowers through colour, fragrance, and shape. The colour or markings of a particular flower help attract and guide insects to them for pollination. For instance, bees are oftentimes attracted to bright blue and violet colours. Hummingbirds are often seen on red, pink, fuchsia, or purple flowers. Butterflies also enjoy bright colours such as yellow, orange, pink and red as well as fragrant ones.

A flower’s fragrance is another method of attraction, especially at night when moths and bats are out. The way in which a flower is shaped also attracts pollinators. For instance, butterflies prefer those having flat petals that act like a landing strip for them to sit on. Long, tubular flowers attract hummingbirds as their long beaks can easily fit into the flower when gathering nectar.

Pollination by Wind and Other Means

Pollination is also carried out by wind. Wind-blown pollen is normally dry and dust-like. Wind-pollinated plants are generally not as flashy as others are. These plants consist of feathery-looking flowers. Many trees and grasses rely on wind for pollination too. Occasionally, pollination can occur by other means. For instance, water can sometimes carry pollen from one plant to another. This often takes place with pond plants, such as pondweed. There are also some instances when people transfer pollen as they handle flowers in the garden.

There are two methods of pollination. Cross-pollination is the most common and occurs when the pollen goes from the stamen of one flower to the pistil of another flower. Self-pollination takes place when pollen is transferred from the stamen of one flower to the pistil of the same flower or plant.

Learning Activities

In order for kids to understand the concept of pollination, it may help to familiarise them with flower botany, or the parts of a flower. Use visual aids that they can colour and label. Talk to them about seeds and how they develop into a plant. Explore different types of seeds and encourage kids to grow something of their own at home or in the classroom, whether it’s a potted windowsill plant or an outside garden. In fact, you could help them plant a pollinator garden, filled with all of their favourite flowers.

Research native plants in your area and use a variety of colourful, fragrant plants and wildflowers in the pollinator garden. This is a great way for kids to watch pollination take place up close while learning about it. They will also have the chance to experience the wonders of plant growth hands-on. Likewise, you could visit local parks or gardens to observe different flowers and pollinators.

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