Free play-based STEAM activities for kids

Fun and easy play-based STEAM activity for toddlers, preschool & kindergarten

Sipping Nectar - Fun mathematics & engineering experiment about bees & flowers

Easy supplies mathematics & engineering activity

Activity summary

This is not JUST another mathematics activity – it’s a play-based, hands-on STEAM activity. It will keep your children extra engaged & motivated, which helps them learn!

In this activity, your children will be little investigators helping Esther the explorer to solve tricky problems and find creative answers to the question: How do bees make honey? By doing that, they get to practice concepts like bees, flowers, and more.

Duration icon Activity length: 20-30 minutes

Subject icon Subjects: Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Arts

Adapt for your age group

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Beginner: Ages 3-4 Standard: Ages 4-6 Advanced: Ages 6-8

Supply list

For this activity, you need only these simple supplies:

  • pipettes

  • small transparent jars

  • water

  • yellow food coloring

  • flower printouts

  • hive printouts

  • plastic pockets

  • tape or pieces of paper

  • pipe cleaners

What will your children learn?

Your children will learn to:

  • Get familiar with a bee's life through bee-play: how bees transport flower nectar to their hive to make honey.

  • Practice measuring liquids using a pipette.

  • Practice counting droplets.

  • Practice fine-motorics.

while practicing these concepts:

  • bees
  • flowers


Step 1: Introduce the problem with a story letter

Play-based learning starting circle
Teacher introducing the reseach problem through the letter that arrived from Supraland

In this play-based activity, your children will lead the investigation as an investigator. When children role play as investigators, they learn so much better! Try starting with a little ‘spin’ to get into character! Then, they can help Esther the explorer solve some tricky problems in their new role.

Before the activity, prepare your supplies and print the letter.

Pro tip:

When children play as scientists, they think like scientists. Try using “scientist jackets” to help them really get into character!

When you start the activity, introduce the research problem in the form of a letter that arrived from Supraland where Esther the explorer lives.

You might be wondering: “Why should I use a story?”

Well, when you introduce a research problem through play and imaginary characters rather than just stating cold facts, children will be extra motivated to solve the problem for their new imaginary friends. Academic research shows this results in increased engagement, better focus, and improved learning outcomes.

You can find the story for this activity below (register for free to print this & many more free activities!).

Hoseli and Esther were collecting flowers from a meadow when a really funny creature flew across. It had colorful wings and a long, long nose that looked just like a straw. 

“Oh hello there!” Esther said.

“BZZZZZ, my name is Mr. Bzzrrrrr”, the creature answered and flew away.

He flew to a flower and stuck the long snout right into it. It looked so funny, Esther had to laugh!

“Bzzzrrr” said the creature and flew about. A bright yellow droplet dripped off its snout. 

“What is this substance, is it oil?” wondered Hoseli.

Esther saw Mr. Bzzzzrr whizzing into a hole. 

She peeked in and here’s what she saw:

“A Beehive! How magnificent!

I would really like to know more about Mr. Bzzrrr’s bizarre businesses!” said Esther. 

Could you, dear scientists, help me investigate them more?

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Step 2: Have the kids conduct the experiment

Preschool mathematics & engineering activity project Kids conducting a play-based activity Children experimenting
Activity photos

After the child understands the problem, it’s time for some hands-on experimenting!

When children are doing the experiment, remind them why they want to solve the problem – to help Esther the explorer. This helps them stay engaged. If they get stuck, you can ask supporting questions like: “What do you think might help Esther the explorer to solve this problem?” If needed, you can get more ideas for guiding questions and adaptation tips for different age groups (register here to get free weekly activities).

Here are the basic steps for his activity:

  1. Take a pipette and show it as you describe the long nose of the Supralandian bee. “It had colorful wings and it flew around: BZZZ.” 

  2. Hand each scientist their own Supralandian bee (pipette). 

  3. Attach the wings and pipe cleaner and do a little flight around with the pipette with buzzing sounds.  “Esther also saw the bizarre bee fly to a flower and stuck its snout right into it.”

  4. Take a flower printout and set a jar of yellow liquid in the center. Put the pipet to the liquid as you recap the story. “And Hoseli saw a drop of yellow liquid drop off the bee's snout. Hoseli wondered if it’s oil.”

  5. Observe the liquid: What does it look like? How does it smell? Could it be oil?

  6. You can tell them that this is dyed water but in this experiment it stands for flower nectar.  “It seemed that Mr. Bzzzrrr the bee was collecting flower nectar to take to his hive! Let’s try out how it happens using our pipette-bees.”  

  7. If you haven’t practiced pipetting before, spend some time doing this.

  8. Next, hand out the hive printouts inside plastic pockets. “The bees drink nectar to get energy but they also bring it to their hives to make honey. Let’s see how that happens."

  9. Start buzzing with your pipette bees and collecting the nectar into your hives.

  10. Measure the water drop by drop into the cells of the hives. Count: How many drops/pipets are needed to fill out one cell?

  11. Admire the filled-out hives together and celebrate the filled-out hives by buzzing together!

Pro tip: give children the freedom to get creative and explore their own solutions!

  • Remember: It’s an imaginary world. It’s more than ok if children don’t give the “correct” answers right away – give them time to practice their skills.
  • Academic research shows children learn best through child-led play and inquiry rather than following strict instructions or memorizing facts because play allows them to build meanings and connections in an age-appropriate way.
  • This perhaps unintuitive approach is also proven to keep children more engaged and improve their learning outcomes.

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Step 3: Conclude the story

Play-based learning ending circle
Adult wrapping up a play-based activity by encouraging children to share their findings with the character they’re helping.

To encourage children to analyze and share their learnings, you can gather in a circle to report to Esther the explorer.

Again, lead with the problem the character was experiencing in the letter. Encourage sharing wild and creative solutions without correcting children if they don’t fully understand the concept.

Remember: in playful learning, we’re not leading with scientific explantions – we’re putting the problem at hand into a context that makes sense to them. We can start building meanings from there.

Scientific explanation (for adults!)

Honeybees have a straw-like mouth through which they suck the sweet nectar from the flowers. In the hive, the bees put the nectar into the honeycombs and make it into honey. But how is the honey actually formed? When the bee has drunk the nectar, the nectar mixes with some very special ingredients in the bee's crop: A crop is like a special stomach into which the bees store the nectar while they transport it into their hives and spit it out.

The taste, color, and smell of the honey depends on the bloom or flower the bee visits.

Bumblebees also collect nectar but they do not make it into honey.

Is this REALLY for free?

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What others love about Kide’s activities

Julia, Preschool Teacher


Preschool Teacher


This program is incredible. The characters, the stories, the experiments are so much fun. I do not need to spend any time planning. Everything I need is given to me be Kide Science.

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Elsa, Kindergarten Teacher


Kindergarten Teacher


Super easy to plan, and the items are usually things that we already have. Planning is made very easy & the children are very motivated!

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Marju, Parent




Was just observed doing one of these lessons. Principal was shocked and so was I - one of the kids with pretty severe attention issues was engaged the entire time!

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