I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.
Go on a flower hunt, dissect a flower, create edible flowers, paint flowers, and more in this fun lesson on flowers! This is part 2 of a 4 part unit study on Botany and Plants. This lesson is geared toward 2nd-3rd grade level children and their siblings. I created this to do with a weekly homeschool co-op which meets each week for 2 1/2 hours. Use this fun lesson with your classroom, family, after school program, camp, or homeschool group!
Introduction to Flowers
1. Pray. Read and discuss Luke 12:22-31.
2. Have children describe flowers (colors, scent, etc.). Why did God make flowers with bright colors and scents? If you live in an area with wildflowers available, pass out wildflowers and have children study them. What do they notice about them?
YOU WILL NEED: wildflowers and magnifying glasses (optional)
3. Read The Reason for a Flower by Ruth Heller, skipping over the sentence that states that magnolias are the oldest flowers as it was created on the third day along with all the other plants. (How Flowers Grow by Emma Helbrough, Flowers by Rene Mettler, and/or A Flower Grows by Ken Robbins would also make good read aloud options to introduce flowers.)
YOU WILL NEED: The Reason for a Flower by Ruth Heller or other book on flowers
Parts of a Flower
4. Review parts of a flower using a lily. I added these mnemonics to help them remember.
- The male parts are men. The whole part that stays there is the stamen. The "stalk" that "fills" the bottom part is a filament. What is on a male deer's head? Antlers. The "head" of male flower stamens have anthers, with pollen on top.
- The lady part has a L for lady. The whole part is the carpel. (If there's only 1 it can also be called a pistil. Notice it's spelled differently than a gun, pistol.) At the top is the mama. It's the stigma. She's a stylish mama. The tube is called a style. Down at the bottom is where you have the egg, called an ovule, surrounded by an ovary, which is "over" the egg.
YOU WILL NEED: a real or fake lily or other flower with obvious flower parts
Dissecting a Flower
5. Dissect a flower. (You can watch this video ahead of time if you need ideas on how to do the dissection.)
- Divide children into groups of 2-4. Give each group at least 1 flower and a piece of dark construction paper
- Attached to the stem and at the bottom of the flower is the green sepal, which surrounds the flower before it blooms (protecting it from insects that might try to eat it) and holds the flower parts in place after it blooms. All the sepals together are called a calyx. Carefully remove the sepal.
- The petals attract pollinators. What are pollinators? (animals which help to spread pollen) Name some pollinators. (bees, butterflies [& moths], birds, bats, & beetles) Petals also help to protect the plant's reproductive organs. All the petals together are called the corolla. Carefully pull off each of the petals.
- Did you get anything slimy on your fingers while removing the petals? That was nectar, which is at the base of each petal & is the sweet juice that birds, butterflies, & bees, the pollinators, love. In the spring we have yellow honeysuckle grow in our yard. My children love plucking off the flowers and tasting the sweet drops of nectar.
- The flower's male parts are the little stalks or poles that all look about the same. They’re the stamens, which have anthers on their tips. The anthers hold the pollen. Shake the flower's stamen or wipe it onto the dark piece of construction paper to see the pollen. If you looked at the pollen under a microscope, they'd look like sandspurs or sandburs, round with spikes that are sticky and will stick to any pollinator that brushes by on its way to sip some tasty nectar.
- The flower's female part is the carpel/pistil. It can usually be found in the center of flower, surrounded by the stamens. Point out the stigma and the style parts of the carpel. The top of the stigma is sticky like Velcro because it’s designed to catch any pollen that touches it. Remember that when the pollen meets with the egg down inside the carpel, it make seeds. That’s why the stigma wants to catch pollen.
- At the bottom of the style is the ovary, where the egg cells are kept and fertilized. This is also where the seeds are formed.
- Use your finger nail to cut open the ovule. Can you see any eggs? Probably not as they're usually pretty tiny. Pollen is like half a seed. The eggs inside the ovules are the other half. When the pollen digs down through the style into the ovary, it finds an ovule & meets up with one of the eggs. When the 2 join, the plant has everything it needs to make a seed. Isn’t God amazing in His design?
- Remind that pollen from one flower must reach the pistil from a different flower in order for the egg to be fertilized, which will make a seed. The seed is needed for a new flower plant to grow. What are some ways that the pollen from one flower can get to the pistil of another flower? (pollinators, wind, people)
- (Optional) Allow children to peel open a flower bud to see how many parts they can identify. (My children were all quite excited about this as it was almost like opening up a present.)
YOU WILL NEED PER GROUP OF CHILDREN: a flower with obvious flower parts such as a lily, a piece of dark construction paper, & a flower bud (optional)
Flower Parts Model
6. Create a model of a flower. Give each child the play-dough, pipe cleaners, glue, cornmeal, and petals and tell them to make a model of a flower. If particular children need assistance, you can provide them with the below directions:
- Use green play dough or clay to form the sepal.
- Poke 3-4 orange pipe cleaner pieces into the clay for the stamens.
- Slightly bend the top tips of the orange pipe cleaners. Place some tacky/craft glue at the tips of the "stamen" and sprinkle some cornmeal on the tips to represent the pollen.
- Poke a piece of yellow pipe cleaner into the middle of the clay to represent the carpel.
- Surround the outside with a circle of tacky/craft glue. Paste construction paper or cloth petals at their base.
YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD: a walnut-sized ball of green play dough or clay, 3-4 short pieces of orange pipe cleaners, a piece of yellow pipe cleaner, tacky/craft glue, a pinch of cornmeal, and 5 petals made from construction paper
7. Dramatize pollination.
- Divide children into 2 groups. Group 1 will be a flower. Group 2 will be the pollinators...which include which animals? (bees, butterflies [& moths], birds, bats, & beetles) Our pollinators can sit for now while our flower gets ready.
- Group 1: Assign 1 child to be the carpel. She will hold a pool noodle that is on top of a plastic Easter egg. (Cover the Easter egg with a small towel.) The pool noodle is the style. The towel is the ovule. The Easter egg is an egg.
- Group 1: Assign the other children to be stamen. Give them each 3 marbles or pony beads to hold in their hands. Your bodies will the filament/stalk. Your hands will be the anthers that hold the pollen (the marbles or pony beads), so hold your hands up above your heads.
- Group 2: We now need pollinators to help move the pollen into the carpel and down the style to meet the egg in the ovule. Each of child will get the "pollen" marbles/pony beads from the hands/anthers attached to the stamen and then drop it down the pool noodle carpel.
- Yes, in real life you'd need to get pollen from a DIFFERENT flower. Also, bees, butterflies, and birds don't use their fingers to drop the pollen down the carpel. They really just kind of bump into the sticky stigma at the top of the style, and then the pollen falls down the style into the ovule to meet with the egg to become a seed.
- Now switch jobs. Group 2 gets to be the flower and Group 1 gets to be the pollinators.
YOU WILL NEED: pool noodle, small towel (or any other object that can cover the egg), plastic Easter egg, & marbles or pony beads
8. Show a painting of a flower done by Georgia O'Keeffe. Ask the children to describe the painting. Can they tell what it is?
YOU WILL NEED: a picture of a flower paining by Georgia O'Keeffe. (We used "Flowers of Fire" and "Pink Tulip.")
9. Read Through Georgia's Eyes by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez.
YOU WILL NEED: Through Georgia's Eyes by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez or other book on Georgia O'Keeffe
10. Show the paintings again. What do you like about her paintings? What do you notice about them? Why do you think she drew the flowers so large and so up close? (She wanted people to notice and appreciate each part of the flowers.) Flip through a few of her paintings and discuss her color choices and sources of light. (She tried to make the flower glow instead of an outside light source shining on it.)
YOU WILL NEED: images of some of Georgia O'Keeffe's flower paintings (from a book or on the Internet)
11. Create a Georgia O'Keeffe inspired painting or drawing of a flower.
- Give each child a flower and a magnifying glass. Allow them to study the flower.
- Then have them draw a close-up of the flower using pastels, paint, or markers. Have them cover the entire sheet of paper with the drawing and try to draw it Georgia O'Keeffe-style. It should be MUCH bigger than it is in real life. It should be so big it doesn't even fit all the way on your paper.
- While they draw or paint, have the children listen to Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the Flowers.
YOU WILL NEED: a flower per child, paper, magnifying glasses (optional), pastels or paint and paintbrushes or markers, smocks or old t-shirts (optional), newspapers or a plastic tablecloth to cover the table, & Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the Flowers
Our Favorite Picture Books on Georgia O'Keeffe
12. Read From Sunflower to Seed by Gerald Legg.
YOU WILL NEED: From Sunflower to Seed by Gerald Legg or other book on sunflowers
13. Ask the children if they have ever seen a sunflower and allow them to describe what they have seen.
- The largest sunflower blossom ever measured was about 32" across. Show a yellow construction paper circle that has a diameter of 32".
- Sunflowers (along with daisies and asters) are actually compound flowers. They're not just 1 flower. Their centers are filled with many tiny flowers called florets.
YOU WILL NEED: a yellow construction paper circle that has a diameter of about 32"
14. Display a copy of one of the paintings of sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh. How is his painting similar to or different from Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings of flowers?
YOU WILL NEED: an image of one of the paintings of sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh (from a book or the Internet)
15. Give each child a cup of soil and two sunflower seeds. Have them push the seeds into the soil. Discuss what they'll need to do to grow the sunflowers.
YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD: 2 sunflower seeds (not the roasted ones but ones for planting. I bought a pack for 20 cents at Walmart) and cup of soil
16. Make sunflower cookies.
- Give each child a sugar cookie.
- Allow them to spread vanilla frosting over the cookie.
- Place candy corn around the outside edge to form the yellow petals.
- Place chocolate chips in the middle to form the florets.
YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD: napkin, sugar cookie, vanilla frosting, plastic knife, candy corn (about 15 per child), & chocolate chips (about 18 miniature per child)
Snack on Edible Flowers & Review
17. Snack: Edible Flowers:
- Eat broccoli, cauliflower, roasted sunflower seeds, and sunflower cookies.
- Serve with sweetened chamomile tea or berry tea (made from hibiscus and/or rose hips).
YOU WILL NEED: broccoli, cauliflower, roasted sunflower seeds, sweetened chamomile tea or berry tea, plates, & cups
18. Review what we learned about flowers.
Homework: Identify Flowers
For optional homework, ask the children to draw and identify at least 3 flowers. We used this as an opportunity to identify some of the wildflowers growing in our area. In order to have my children study the flower in more depth, before they drew the flower we measured it and evaluated its characteristics: habitat, petal number, leaf arrangement, leaf type, leaf shape, leaf margin, flower arrangement, flower form, & flower color.
Our Favorite Flower Guide Book
Our Favorite Picture Books on Flowers
There are quite a number of amazing picture books on flowers, so it was difficult to pare them down to a favorites list. In addition to the books I posted to use in this lesson, we also really enjoyed reading and learning from:
- The Flower Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta has a flower for each letter of the alphabet, has beautiful illustrations, and includes plenty of additional information that is not always included in other books (short snippets about the history of the flower, its uses, etc.). The additional information is written in such a way that it keeps the interest of even my youngest (preschool aged) listeners.
- Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate by Sara Levine shares how different colors of flowers attract different types of pollinators. Flowers are Calling by Rita Gray shares similar information, but my children loved the illustrations of Flower Talk better.
- Fantastic Flowers by Susan Stockdale is very short showing a variety of different unique looking flowers and what they look like (pants, bees, bats, etc.). At the end it has a photograph of each flower and includes where it's found and what it's main pollinator is.
- The Big Book of Blooms by Yuval Zommer is too long to read in one sitting if you're reading with younger children. It's oversized and very attractive. It includes a variety of different flowers and shares a few sentences about each one.
- What's Inside A Flower? by Rachel Ignotofsky does a good job describing the parts of a flower and how a seed is created. The illustrations are attractive and there's just enough text to keep the interest of all ages.
- How Flowers Grow (Usborne Beginners, Level 1) by Emma Helbrough has beautiful illustrations and pictures and provides lots of information including how flowers bloom, pollination occurs, & seeds get spread. It also talks about where flowers grow and which flowers are "killers."
We enjoyed the 2 below children's picture book biographies:
- Here a Plant, There a Plant, Everywhere a Plant, Plant: A Story of Luther Burbank by Robert M. Quackenbush covers the life of Luther Burbank, who created a number of new plant species by cross-pollinating flowers and grafting plants. This is a great picture book that explains his life and work in a way that even younger children (like my 3 and 5 year olds) can understand.
- Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers by Kathi Appelt about how Lady Bird Johnson is responsible for the many wildflowers that grow in the medians of many interstates across the U.S.
We also enjoyed adding in some books on artists who are famous for painting flowers:
- The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt
- Katie Meets the Impressionists by James Mayhew
- Katie and the Sunflowers by James Mayhew
- Katie and the Waterlily Pond by James Mayhew
Looking for Free Flower Lapbooks Related to Books?
Click on the below links to find free lapbooks based on these flower-related books:
The Parable of the Lily by Liz Curtis Higgs : http://www.homeschoolshare.com/parable_of_the_lily.php
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart : http://www.homeschoolshare.com/TheGardener.php
Holly Bloom's Garden by Sarah Ashman : http://www.homeschoolshare.com/holly_bloom_garden.php
Georgia O'Keeffe's Flower Paintings Set to Music
Go on a seed hunt, act out germination, create seed mosaics, make and eat a plant parts salad, dissect a flower, decorate sunflower cookies, compete in a photosynthesis relay race, got on a plant scavenger hunt, and more during this fun four part unit study on Botany and Plants!
- Plant Parts & Seeds Lesson - This is part 1 of a 4 part unit study on Botany and Plants. Go on a seed hunt, act out germination, create seed mosaics, make and eat a plant parts salad, and more in this fun lesson on plants!
- Flowers Lesson - Go on a flower hunt, dissect a flower, create edible flowers, paint flowers, and more in this fun lesson on flowers! This is part 2 of a 4 part unit study on Botany and Plants.
- Bee & Honey Lesson - This is part 3 of a 4 part unit study on Botany and Plants. (This lesson is optional if you need to squeeze this unit into 3 parts rather than 4.) Dance like a bee, make edible bees using honey balls, use cheese puff balls and and juice boxes to dramatize pollination, create pipe cleaner bees and have them fly to the tune of Flight of the Bumblebee, and more!
- Trees & Leaves Lesson - This is part 4 of a 4 part unit study on Botany and Plants. Play a photosynthesis relay race, create an edible leaf structure, act out the parts of a tree, examine and classify tree leaves and use them to identify trees, and more in this fun, hands-on lesson on leaves and trees!
- Botany Scavenger Hunt & Field Trip Ideas - This is the culminating activity we did after a 4 week hands-on unit study on botany/plants. Children went on a fun-filled scavenger hunt for a variety of plants, and afterward had a plant-themed picnic lunch. Also included are the field trips we went on while studying this unit on botany and plants.
Would you like to teach this way every day?
I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful Christian curriculum and was created by moms with active children! You can even watch free on-line videos as Jessica, one of the co-authors of Konos, walks you through a unit. (Look for the Explanation Videos tab.)
If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' HomeSchoolMentor.com program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!
© 2013 Shannon