Hummingbirds’ main source of food is the nectar from flowers, tree sap, pollen, and insects. By eating the nectar and pollen from flowers, hummingbirds actually help flowers! It’s a special process called pollination. Here’s how it works: Flowers need pollen from other flowers to reproduce, or make new seeds. (If you did our Flowers Unit, you can remind your child that the pollen is produced by the flower’s stamens.) But flowers can’t just walk over to their flower friends and say, “Share your pollen with me, please!” Instead, they often need a little help. The hummingbird helps flowers pollinate in exchange for food.
When the hummingbird travels from flower to flower, it picks up pollen on its beak every time it stops to drink nectar. When it goes to another flower, some of that pollen falls off and sticks to the flower’s pistil. When this happens, the flower can make new seeds!
Hummingbirds have long beaks with long tongues that act like straws to suck up all the nectar. In the below activity, we will pretend to be hummingbirds drinking from flowers to demonstrate how pollination occurs.
What you need:
- 2 juice boxes with straws
- our flower printable (note: you will only need the blank blossom and blank flower middles for this project)
- cheddar puffs (or any orange, powdery snack)
What to do:
First, print 2 flower printables onto colorful cardstock. Cut out the flowers and assemble. Poke a small hole in the middle of the flowers and thread the juice box straw through it.
Next, sprinkle some crumbled cheddar puffs onto the middle of one flower. The crumbs will be our “pollen.”
Then, tell your child to pretend to be a hummingbird and drink the flower’s “nectar” from the flower with the crumbs. Have them drink close enough to the juice box that their lips touch the flower. (Note: The crumbs should stick to their lips, but you may need to tell them not to lick them off.)
After they take a few sips, have them immediately take a few sips from the other “flower,” also trying to press their lips to that flower. Some of the crumbs should fall off their lips and onto the second flower.
When they stop drinking, point out how they have transferred the “pollen” from one flower to another. That is how pollination works!
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