The ee Tree

by Patricia Polacco

Web lesson designed by Katelin Harvey and Alice Bennett

Intended for 3rd and 4th grade readers

Welcome to our web lesson which will help you to understand and enjoy Patricia Polacco’s The Bee Tree.

Please follow the set of directions under each heading AND do each activity in the order listed.  You will need to print off all worksheets to show that you completed each activity.  Make sure to follow the directions carefully. 

 The rubric for your evaluation is posted at the end of the activities.


*    copy of Patricia Polacco’s The Bee Tree (Philomel Books, 1993)

*    computer with Internet capability

*    printer

*    paper

*    pencil

*    school email address


Book Summary

Mary Ellen is a little girl who tells her grampa that she is tired of reading and that she would rather play outdoors.  Mary Ellen's grampa suggests that they find a bee tree.  After collecting some bees in a jar, Grampa lets one out, and he and Mary Ellen follow that bee.  Along the way, they meet other members of the town who want to join them on their quest for the bee tree.  After a long chase, the bee tree is found.  The bees are then smoked out and the honey is gathered.  After a honey party, Grampa places some of the honey on a book.  He tells Mary Ellen to taste it.  She discovers that there is sweetness inside of books and that knowledge, like honey, must be pursued.

Author Biography

Patricia Polacco is originally from Michigan and lived on a farm with her mother and grandparents until her grandmother died in 1949.  She has said that “living on that little farm with [my Grandparents] was the most magical time of my life...and that my Babushka and other grandparents were some of the most inspirational people in my life.” In 1949 Patricia and her mother and brother, moved to Coral Gables, Florida and lived there for three years.  Then they moved to Oakland, California where she lived for thirty-seven years.  Patricia is the mother of two children, Steven and Traci.

Patricia always struggled in school, especially with reading and math.  She did not learn to read until she was almost fourteen years old!  She has a learning disability called dyslexia.  Before writing books, she restored ancient pieces of art for museums. When she was forty-one, she started writing books and illustrating them.

Patricia Polacco now lives in Union City, Michigan (her home town) and is still writing books.

Pre-reading Activities

Activity 1

Bee Hive

Acitivty 2

Graphic Organizer

Activity 3

Bee Fact Sentences Worksheet

        1.  Click on the start button and then read about honey bee hives.

        2.  Then click next.

        3.  Choose two of the sections listed on the page (These are pollination, developing larvae, storing honey, and about the


        4.  After choosing your sections, click one of them and read through the information.  Then write down a fact you learned

            from that section.

        5.  Do the same for your second section.

PBS website on honeybees

During Reading Activities

Activity 4

Vocabulary Worksheet

Follow these directions:

1.    The vocabulary word is listed in the first column. Say the word to yourself and think of what that word means.  Remember to use context clues to help you write the definition.

2.    Write your definition for the word in the second column.

3.    After you have finished defining all the words, look up the words using the online dictionary link below to check them.  Write a corrected definition only if your definition is incorrect.

Word Central Dictionary (click on student dictionary once you have reached the homepage)

4.    Use the lines on the page following the vocabulary chart to write a sentence for each vocabulary word.

5.    After you have printed off the chart and completed it, turn it into the teacher.

Activity 5


Create a plot map explaining where the action starts at the beginning of the book.


Print out the plot map link below


Plot Map


1.      In box one write Grampa and me and hunting for bee tree.


2.      In each of the next boxes, list in order the people who they come across on

             the way to the bee tree.  Tell who they were and what they were doing.

3.       After all of the people are listed, write bee tree in the second to last box

              and where they found the bee tree.

4.      The last box includes where all the people ended up and what they did.


Post-Reading Activities


Activity 6

Similes Worksheet


Activity 7

    Dear Bee Expert,

        (Type your question here)



                            (your name)

Beekeeper email



Assessment of your work    




(Remember:  You should have seven activities in all)


(All honeybee images found on Google images.)