There are two things you should know about me. One, this year was my first year teaching elementary school. Two, I’m a beekeeper. When you combine those things with an autistic personality, a visual artist, and actual OCD – you get bees as a classroom theme!
Autistic people often have things of interest that become intense passions for them. Bees are like that for me I guess. When figuring out if I would have a decorated theme to my classroom I decided on bees. I had no idea what I was getting into. However, I printed out all the name tags, labels, and bee related things I could. Then I did what every good teacher does…
I laminated them.
Anyway, through this bee theme my classroom has essentially created a culture this year. It wasn’t at all what I intended, nor an expected outcome. However, it’s been incredibly welcoming. It’s made classroom management a breeze. Students feel like they’re part of something bigger and more fun than just your average third grade classroom. It gives them something to invest in. At the beginning of the year where I introduced myself to my students and they learned about my love of bees. This was followed by the ability to use them in our third grade science curriculum. Learning about life cycles of plants, the different ways that living things around us reproduce, and pollination are all part of it. Bees seemed like the natural solution. So I bought our observation hive and had a “bee day” at school where I brought the hive in for observation for an entire day. Students got to see the queen and all the workers. Then we harvested honey in the Fall. I brought that in for the class to taste. They started calling themselves The Beehive and me the Queen Bee.
All this is to say that by the time I went on maternity leave after Thanksgiving, they were invested in bees. I’ve found many fun ways to weave them into our day-to-day lives in class. I love the excitement students have about bees in our classroom. Since it was my first year teaching I had some fun ideas about how we could integrate bees into our financial literacy standards this year.
I’m excited to say, with the district’s permission, that next year’s third grade class will have their own beehive. Considering how small our district is (two third-grade classes with less than 20 students in each), sharing one hive between the two leaves enough for everyone. We’ll be using this hive for both our science and some of our financial literacy standards in social studies. Students won’t be going out to the hive in beesuits. Instead my husband and I will take out frames of honey in the Fall, students will own a business selling the honey. They’ll do everything from the budgeting, selling, marketing, designing honey labels, and processing the honey. While I haven’t designed all of the details yet, we did get the hives last weekend and installed one on the school’s property, but far from where students would encounter it. I’m excited for the third grade to run their own business next year. We’ll be selling the honey during school conferences and anywhere else we can. We still haven’t figured out all the logistics yet. It’ll be a great way for our town to enjoy local honey and for us to boost our tiny grade-level budgets at the same time.
I’ll be sharing about these bees over the course of the summer and the project in the Fall, but thought I’d get a head start by showing off the hive in today’s post. These are all photos of its installation.