Answering the “WHYs”: Spring Allergies

spring allergy season.pngThe days are finally warming up, the grass is green, the flowers are blooming… ACHOOO! Spring allergy season is here! My kids and I are sneezing every time we go out to play.

My son likes to proudly announce to anyone who will listen, “I have allergies!”  But when his allergies are really acting up and he feels miserable, he asks me between sniffles, “Mommy, why do I keep sneezing?” Poor little guy!

It can be frustrating to deal with irritating allergies, but it’s always easier if you can at least explain why.  Here are 2 fun activities you can you with your kids to help explain what causes spring allergies!

LEARN SCIENCE VOCABULARY:

Pollen – a fine powder produced by plants (usually found in flowers) to help them make other plants

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Thousands of tiny grains of pollen come from each flower!

Pollinator – insects, birds or other animals that help spread pollen from one plant to another

Allergic Reaction – sneezing, coughing, runny nose, or itchy eyes that happens as a result of our bodies’ response to something like pollen, pet hair, dust, etc.

Immune System – the parts in our bodies that work to fight off germs and keep us healthy (made up of white blood cells, antibodies, tonsils, lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, and several other chemicals and proteins in our bodies!)

Why do I have allergies in the spring?

Flowers produce POLLEN to help them reproduce, and they count on POLLINATORS, like bees, to spread their POLLEN to other flowers.  POLLEN is such a fine powder that it floats in the air and easily gets into our noses and mouths when we breathe. You can see the pollen in flowers if you look closely. Or if you rub a dandelion on your chin you will turn yellow (not because you like butter, as the old kids rhyme says, but because the pollen is rubbing off on your skin!). For more information on flower parts, check out Flower Exploration and Bookmark Craft.

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The pollen from a dandelion will rub off on your skin!

Most spring allergies (or ‘hay fever,’ as many people say) come from an immune system response to POLLEN.  Our immune system helps us by fighting off bad germs like viruses and bacteria, but sometimes it mistakes pollen for one of these germs! The result is an ALLERGIC REACTION, like sneezing, coughing, or watery eyes.

2 fun and easy ways to learn about pollen:

  1. Craft: Painting pollinating flowers (inspired by Happy Toddler Playtime and Crafty Morning
    20170416_185632
    Use recycled materials to make stamps for finger painting!
    • All you need is: finger paint, glitter, plastic fork, wine corks, caps (or anything else to make a stamp) and white paper.
    • Dip the stamps in the paint and use it to make flower blossom shapes. Let the kids be as creative as they want – flower blossoms come in all shapes and colors!
    • When their masterpiece is done, draw in some green stems and sprinkle glitter on the blossoms to represent pollen!
  2. Activity: Be a Pollinator! (modified from Little Kinder Warriors)
    • For this activity you will need: a brown paper bag, white paper, crayons or makers, Cheetos (or a similar powder-covered snack) and some sticky kid fingers.
    • Draw a flower on the paper bag and put a handful of Cheetos inside. The Cheetos represent the parts of the flower that hold the POLLEN (called the stamen and pistil…for more information on flower parts, check out Flower Exploration and Bookmark Craft).
    • Draw another flower on the white paper.

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      (You don’t have to be quite as elaborate with your flower drawings…my husband helped and got a bit carried away!)
    • Have your child with the sticky fingers reach into the bag and eat some Cheetos. Make sure they DO NOT lick or wipe their fingers! They should have quite a bit of ‘POLLEN’ on their fingers. Their fingers are acting as the POLLINATOR, and will carry the POLLEN from the paper bag flower to the white paper flower.
    • Now have them walk their fingers over the flower drawn on the white paper. Were they an effective POLLINATOR? Did they carry POLLEN from one flower to another?
    • Next time you see a bee, butterfly or other insect land on a flower, look closely at them. Can you see the yellow pollen collected there just like the Cheetos powder was on your sticky fingers?

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      Bee covered in pollen (image from Wikipedia)
Blended Life Happy Wife

8 Comments Add yours

  1. sneltzer says:

    I am sure glad I do not have allergies! Really hoping my little man gets lucky and doesn’t have any either. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kayla8642 says:

    Allergies are something many people talk about with their kids…but I am sure not many of them know exactly what they mean! What a great hands on activity to share this information with little ones and deepen their understanding!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maria deRosario says:

    This information is so helpful especially because allergies are so common and the activities are just a great way of making a child understand it much more….something I definitely want to save and share with my son as he gets older.

    Like

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you found it useful. 🙂

      Like

  4. Kristin says:

    What a fun activity! We are luck and only have very mild allergies in our family.

    Like

  5. My husband has horrible allergies and I have surprisingly been very good until we recently moved. Our new town is suppose to be a top # on the top forests in the US or something like that so you can imagine the greenery we have lol. I’m hoping my little one doesn’t get too many.

    Like

  6. This post is full of good information and fun ideas. Learning through play is such a wonderful way for kids to really connect to the lessons.

    Liked by 1 person

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