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Air pollution, bees and honey making!

By Susan Mallette

This month’s title:
Michael Bird Boy by Tomie dePaola
Ages: 4-8
Summary: A thought-provoking picture book about how a young boy dressed in a bird costume saves his environment from pollution caused by the Genuine Shoo-Fly Artificial Honey syrup factory.
Themes: air pollution, bees, and honey making

Social studies
Michael Bird Boy doesn’t only complain about the pollution to Boss Lady -- he takes action, suggesting a way for her to solve the problem. “Why don¹t you make real honey?” he asks, and he sends her bees to do it.

Activity: Ways to reduce pollution

Items needed:
Crayons or markers

How to:
Ask each family member what they can do to help reduce pollution in our environment: use solar powered calculators, don’t use aerosols, never burn plastic items (they often contain poisonous chemicals that escape into the soil, air or water). Write your lists on paper, decorate it and post it on the refrigerator as a reminder.

Michael Bird Boy tells us how the air, plants and animals in his neighborhood are affected by pollution. “We can’t see the moon and stars at night,” he tells Boss Lady, and the “white birds get dirty” and the “flowers wilt.”

Activity: Observe air pollution

Items needed:
A piece of white cloth, cut in half

How to:
Cut a piece of white cloth in two. Hang one piece outside the window for a few days. Compare the two pieces of cloth.

Boss Lady has a terrible problem. “Your bees aren¹t working,” she tells Michael. “Where are the flowers?” he asks.

Craft: Make flowers

Items needed:
Green construction paper
A brad
3 muffin tin liners

How to:
Cut a strip of green construction paper into the shape of a stem and leaves. Flatten two or three muffin tin liners; color the first one in the stack like the face of a flower. Poke a brad through the muffin tin liners and the paper stem. Cut through all three layers of the muffin tin liners to make flower petals. Fluff and move petals forward and back to create a flower blossom. The brad is the nectar.

The cells of the honeycombs that bees live and store honey in are shaped like hexagons.

Activity: Hexagon math game

Items needed:
Hexagons traced onto cardboard, one per player; must be small enough to fit on a piece of graph paper with room around them to trace
Dice (two)
Graph paper
Scrap paper for writing out problems

How to:
Give each player a cardboard hexagon. The youngest player goes first. Roll the dice. Subtract the lower number from the higher one on your scrap paper or in your head. Trace around your hexagon on your graph paper, one side per number of your answer. The first person to trace a complete hexagon gets to go first next time.

Boss Lady visits Michael’s house to bring him some honey, and they both eat honey cake.

Activity: Make honey cookies with honey frosting

Honey Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1 - 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bran cereal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter, sugar and egg until creamy. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7 to 9 minutes.

Honey Icing
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Beat ingredients until fluffy. Spread on cooled cookies.

For more information about how kids can help save the environment, see Kids For A Clean Environment, an organization that gives kids information on environmental issues and ideas for helping them get involved.

Susan Regan Mallette, a former English teacher, spends her time homeschooling, writing curriculum and homemaking. See more about Susan.


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