Flowers fascinate me, they always have. I can remember spending many happy hours in my parent's garden fondly stroking tulips and talking with snap dragons, or rather making them talk to me. The colors and scents, how can something so amazing grow right out of the ground?
Plant Life Cycles
We are studying life cycles at preschool as part of out Earth Day curriculum for the month of April. We set up a plant life cycle on our science table. Into seed pots we planted marigold seeds and then set them up right next to a full-grown marigold plant, with the seeds next the plant. The goal is to give the kids a visual experience of a life cycle while we wait for our baby plants to sprout.
As part of this we read the book: Seed to Plant by Melvin and Gilda Berger. This is a great book with wonderful pictures seeds and plants at different phases of the life cycle. It really helped the kids to understand the process.
Plant Life Cycle Game
We also played the life cycle game. Each kid pretended to be a tiny seed planted in the ground (they get in a ball on the ground). While I pretended to water them as the sun came out and the kids began to grow into a plant (they stretch up towards the sky on their feet), and next the kids sprouted flowers (what color is your flower?) that made seeds. The seeds blew away in the wind (we waved our arms) and landed back on the earth (the kids end up back in a ball on the ground). They loved this game! It was a great visceral way to experience a plant life cycle.
My love of flowers prompted me to bring in a bunch of flowers and talk about where the seeds are made in a flower. I brought in tulips for us to explore together. After we reviewed our plant life cycle, I got ready to cut apart a tulip with the kids. At first they were sad about hurting the tulip. These are some sweet kids! But as I started pulling the petals back they became totally engaged in what they were seeing.
"Whoa! Ms. Angela, what is that?" All heads were bent peering closely as were investigated our tulip.
I pointed out the anthers on the flower and we talked about pollination. We felt the slightly gritty pollen dust on our fingers. I was fortunate to have a lovely book, The Dandelion Seed,with me with an illustration of a bee covered in pollen which gave the kids a good visual for pollen transfer via insects.
The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Patrick Anthony is simply beautiful. The story is profound and engaging while the illustrations are incredibly lovely. In fact I cry just about every time I read it!
Then I showed them the pistil, the part when the pollen lands and fertilizes the flower to make seeds. We cut into the pistil but weren't able to see much even with our magnifying glass.
I also brought in some lilies for the kids to explore. Each child got a lily anda coloring sheet showing the parts of a plant (click here for a link to this great coloring sheet). The kids pulled apart their flowers and glued them to their coloring sheet.
We had a great time being scientists and learning about the mystery of plants and flowers!