Animals at Work

Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge Brain Builder

honey bee on a flower
Source: Jim, the Photographer, Flickr

Animals work hard to find food, build their homes and care for their young. Sometimes the work that animals do affects humans, too. Did you know that the actions of bees help produce many foods humans eat, such as chocolate, apples and watermelons? As bees search for nectar, they transfer pollen from one flower to another. This process, called pollination, allows a plant to produce seeds and make new plants.

What other kinds of work do bees do? How do bees affect your life?


The Case of the Vanishing Honey Bees: Explains the important work bees do throughout the year and investigates the threat posed by Colony Collapse Disorder.

Wiggling Worms at Work: Explore the world of earth worms as they tunnel through the soil and learn how their work helps our plants grow.


  • Make your own beehive with some construction paper, tape and scissors.
    • Cut each piece of paper in half length-wise, and then in half length-wise again until you have four long strips in three different colors.
    • Fold each strip in half, and then into thirds until you have six equal sections. Unfold the strip and tape together to form a hexagon.
    • When you have all your hexagons, arrange them in a comb like bees do! Use the different colors to represent different parts of the hive. For example, brood cells are in the middle to protect the larvae. Pollen cells surround the brood cells and honey cells are around the outside.
  • Just how do bees find the flowers to collect pollen and make honey? Discover how bees communicate with each other. Then, use your hive and you own dance moves to shake your bee-hind. You will need a partner and a flower for this activity.
    • Hide your flower somewhere your partner can't see it.
    • Use the waggle dance steps below to help your partner find the flower
      • Waggle your tail as you dance in a straight line in the direction of the flower.
      • Waggle faster to show it is closer or slower to show it is further away.
      • Circle back to where you started so you can waggle again
      • Waggle in a straight line again, then loop back the other way to the starting point and waggle again.
    1. Did this activity change how you think about bees? Look for bees in your neighborhood and spread the word about the importance of bees.
    2. Scientists are concerned about the sudden disappearance of bees because of Colony Collapse Disorder. What would our world be like without bees?
    3. Domestic animals like pets and farm animals have jobs that help us survive. Visit Brookfield Zoo's Hamill Family Play Zoo or Lincoln Park Zoo's Farm-in-the-Zoo to learn how.
    4. Lots of "creepy" animals make our environment better, like spiders, snakes, snails, bats and worms. Research how these animals help humans and our planet. Draw or write about what you discovered.

    Dig Deeper

    Spiders may not be your favorite bug, but they are really important for keeping our planet healthy. Discover the truth about spiders.

    Rahm’s Readers is in partnership with Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools, The Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago, Brookfield Zoo/Chicago Zoological Society, Lincoln Park Zoo, the Museum of Science and Industry and Chicago City of Learning.

    Rahm’s Readers is made possible by The James & Madeleine McMullan Foundation, Cubs Care, Comcast, Dr. Scholl Foundation, CPL Foundation Junior Board, Helen M. Harrison Foundation, Macys, Peoples Gas, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, ComEd, R.R. Donnelley, The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation, Verizon and RPM Advertising through the Chicago Public Library Foundation.

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