The Honeybee Man
- Where’s Your Honey From? Bring honey from a variety of sources into the classroom. Students may be able to share unopened jars from home, or local retailers (grocery store, farm stand, farmer’s market, local bodega) may be willing to donate. Have students compare and contrast where the honey was harvested using the information provided on the jars. On a map, pinpoint the sources of honey, and then calculate how the honey had to travel to get to your town or city. Using current gas prices, determine how much it might have cost to transport the honey to you.
- Taste and Sensory Details. Once you’ve done the above activity, have your students do a blind taste test. After sampling each type of honey, the students must write down words to describe what they tasted. Encourage students to come up with descriptive synonyms. Students can then vote for their favorite honey.
- Meet the Bees. Invite a local beekeeper to visit your classroom and discuss the process of collecting honeycombs and creating honey. Make sure your students are ready with questions, and capture the visit with a digital camera, so that you can create a class book.
- Queen Bees and World History. How did Fred’s queen bees acquire such unique names? Have students research the origin of Queen Mab, Queen Nefertiti, and Queen Boadicea, and share their stories in small groups. Why would the author choose these names? How do the names enhance the story?
- Sensory Details. Nargi’s text is filled with rich images and sensory details. Take your students on a walk over your school grounds and/or through local streets. As you walk, pause occasionally to let your students record the sights, sounds, smells, and textures that they experience. If you have a local farm nearby, or if you’re visiting a local orchard, you can always throw in tastes, too. When you return to the classroom, students should write short vignettes filled with rich images and sensory details, using their memory of the walk and their written notes.
- Local Food Production. What foods or food products are grown or manufactured in your town or city? Do you have farms? Canning factories? Fisheries? Maple trees? Take your students to a local farm, factory, community garden, or have the students visit a local farmer’s market after school or on the weekend. Make sure that students document their visit with disposable digital cameras. Interview the farmers, fishermen, or factory workers to learn more about how food produced locally is shared regionally and/or nationally. Have students create their own nonfiction picture books about the process, using the digital photographs as illustrations or for use in a mixed-media collage illustration modeled on Brookman’s work in The Honey Bee Man.
- Colony Collapse Disorder. Using The Honeybee Man as an introduction, have your students read The Hive Detectives, a Scientists in the Field volume written by Loree Griffin Burns. While students are reading the book, and when they are done, have them also explore some of the short multimodal digital texts listed below in Further Explorations. If possible, have students interview local bee keepers about their own experiences, or colleague’s experiences, with colony collapse disorder. Have students share their research, and the latest forecast for bee populations, by creating audio or video podcasts that can be shared with the school and local community. Students might want to take their own short videos or still digital photographs of local bees as part of their work. Those with allergies will want to avoid participating in the photographic documentation.
- This young adult survey book chronicles the history of honeybees, the various roles they have played in different cultures around the world, the life cycle of the honeybee, and honey production.
- This Scientists in the Field photo essay chronicles colony collapse disorder from the perspective of several scientists and bee keepers in different parts of the United States.
- This Jump into Science illustrated nonfiction picture book details the life cycle of the honeybee.
- In this cumulative tale, a grandfather shares the secrets of bee keeping with his young grandson.
Micucci, C. (1995). The life and times of the honeybee. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
- This survey book provides information on the habitat and life cycle of the honeybee as well as the process of making honey.
- This Let’s Read and Find Out nonfiction picture book details the process by which bees make honey.
- This Tell Me Why, Tell Me How nonfiction picture book also details the process by which bees make honey.
About Mary Ann Cappiello
Mary Ann is a professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former public school language arts and humanities teacher, she is a passionate advocate for and commentator on children’s books. Mary Ann is the co-author of Teaching with Text Sets (2013) and Teaching to Complexity (2015) and Text Sets in Action: Pathways Through Content Area Literacy (Stenhouse, 2021). She has been a guest on public radio and a consultant to public television. From 2015-2018, Mary Ann was a member of the National Council of Teachers of English's Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction (K-8) Committee, serving two years as chair.
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