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. 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.)
3. Have children describe flowers (colors, scent, etc.). Why did God make flowers with bright colors and scents?
This is our favorite picture book that gives an overview of flowers. It is quite short and has gorgeous illustrations. I do skip the page that mentions that magnolias are the oldest flowers. They were created on day 3 along with all the other plants.
My children love the Cat in the Hat style of rhyming in this book, and I love that includes quite a bit of information about flowers.
Candied Rose Petals
4. (Optional) Make Crystallized/Candy Rose Petals.
-Ahead of time carefully clean and completely dry rose petals. Give each child a piece of wax paper and a few rose petals (or petals from other edible flower).
-Allow children to beat together 1 teaspoon of water and 1 egg white until it is slightly foamy.
-Use a clean paintbrush to paint each flower/petal individually with the beaten egg white on both sides and then quickly sprinkle both sides with superfine sugar.
-Place the coated petals (still on the on wax paper) on a wire rack. Let them dry at room temperature until they are completely dry and brittle or put them in an oven set at 150-200 F with the door slightly ajar. The latter option will allow for them to be dry by the time class/co-op is over.
-The flowers/petals can be used to decorate cakes or other deserts, or they can simply be eaten as candy.
YOU WILL NEED: 1 egg white per 6 children (or use meringue powder), 2 tsp. of superfine granulated sugar per child (You can purchase superfine sugar or simply make it by using a food processor or blender to grind regular sugar.), a clean paintbrush per child (We used new watercolor paintbrushes.), 1-2 wire racks, a piece of wax paper for each child, a small bowl for each group of 3 children, & edible flowers or petals (We used rose petals. You can also use pansies, violets, lilacs, peas, geraniums, or borages. Only use flowers from your own garden or from the grocery store's produce department if they are labeled as edible. Do not use flowers from bouquets from florists or grocery stores as they may have been sprayed with non-edible pesticides.)
Rose Petal Tea
5. (Optional) Begin brewing rose petal tea. Give each child a rose and allow them to carefully remove the petals. Place the petals in a saucepan or tea kettle and cover them with water (We used 15 roses [about 2 cups of petals] and 3 cups water). Have an adult bring the water to a simmer, simmer it for 5 minutes, and then strain out the rose petals. Sweeten with sugar or honey. *If you don't have home-grown roses readily available, simply use a tea that includes hibiscus and/or rose hips such as Celestial Seasonings Berry Tea.*
YOU WILL NEED: sugar, a saucepan or tea kettle, and 1 rose per child Only use roses from your own garden. Do not use flowers from bouquets from florists or grocery stores as they may have been sprayed with non-edible pesticides.)
Dissecting a Flower
6. Review parts of a flower using a fake lily.
YOU WILL NEED: a real or fake lily or other flower with obvious flower parts
7. Dissect a flower.
-Divide children into groups of 2-4. Give each group a flower, a piece of dark construction paper, and, if desired, tweezers and a knife.
-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.
-The petals attract insects, which help to spread pollen. In addition, petals help to protect the plant's reproductive organs.
-The flower's male parts are the stamens, which have anthers on their tips. The anthers hold the pollen. Have the children shake the flower's stamen onto a dark piece of construction paper or they can wipe the tip along the paper to see the pollen.
- The flower's female part is the 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 pistil. At the bottom of the pistil is the ovary, where the egg cells are kept and fertilized. This is also where the seeds are formed.
-Remind the children that pollen from one flower must reach the pistil from another 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. Ask, "What are some ways that the pollen from one flower can get to the pistil of another flower?"
-OPTION B: Use a flower bud instead. I allowed my children to peel apart flower buds that had not yet opened, and the children were all quite excited over it as it was almost like opening up a present.
YOU WILL NEED PER GROUP OF CHILDREN: a flower with obvious flower parts, a piece of dark construction paper, tweezers (optional), & a knife (optional)
If you'd like to use a book that will walk you through step-by-step of what to do and say when dissecting the flower, this is a great option. I actually used this book as I did the dissection with my co-op. It includes more information that what I provided above, and it includes questions to ask throughout the process.
Flower Parts Model
8. 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 pistil.
-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
What is a flower’s last line of defense against insects?
9. Color & paste "Parts of a Plant" worksheet from "Considering God's Creation." If you do not own that book, you can print something off of pintrest or another site for the children to color the parts of the flower. Paste cornmeal on the spot where it says "pollen" and on the legs of the bee.
YOU WILL NEED: worksheets, cornmeal, glue, & crayons
10. Show a painting of a flower done by Georgia O'Keffee. 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'Keffee. (We used "Flowers of Fire" and "Pink Tulip.")
11. Read either Through Georgia's Eyes by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez or My Name Is Georgia: A Portrait by Jeanette Winter by Jeanette Winter.
12. Show the paintings again. Ask if the children like her paintings and what they notice about them. Ask, "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'Keffee's flower paintings (from a book or on the Internet)
13. 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 or paint. Have them cover the entire sheet of paper with the drawing and try to draw it Georgia O'Keffe-style. While they draw, have the children listen to Tschaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers."
YOU WILL NEED: a flower (real or fake) per child, paper, magnifying glasses (optional), pastels or paint and paintbrushes, smocks or old t-shirts (optional), newspapers or a plastic tablecloth to cover the table, & Tschaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers"
Our Favorite Picture Books on Georgia O'Keeffe
Our other favorite picture book biographies include "My Name Is Georgia: A Portrait" by Jeanette Winter, "Georgia O'Keeffe" (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists) by Mike Venezia, and "Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O'Keeffe Painted What She Pleased" by Amy Novesky. You can also look for "Georgia Rises: A Day in the Life of Georgia O'Keeffe" by Kathryn Lasky and "Georgia's Bones" by Jen Bryant.
Georgia O'Keeffe's Flower Paintings Set to Music
14. Read "From Sunflower to Seed" by Gerald Legg.
15. Ask the children if they have ever seen a sunflower and allow them to describe what they have seen. Tell them that the largest sunflower blossom ever measured was about 32" across. Show a yellow construction paper circle that has a diameter of 32". Mention that sunflowers (along with daisies and asters) are actually compound flowers. 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"
16. 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)
17. 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
This provides a nice, quick overview on the lifecycle of a sunflower. It also has appealing illustrations that keep the attention of the children.
Our Favorite Picture Books on Van Gogh & His Sunflowers
Also look for "Van Gogh and the Sunflowers" by Laurence Anholt or "Camille and the Sunflowers" by Laurence Anholt. We also enjoyed "Van Gogh" (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists) by Mike Venezia, which doesn't focus on his sunflowers paintings but does include that information.
18. 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: napkins, sugar cookies, vanilla frosting, plastic knives, candy corn (15 per child), & chocolate chips (18 per child)
Snack on Edible Flowers & Review
19. Snack: Edible Flowers: Eat broccoli, cauliflower, and pansies (optional). Also serve sunflower seeds and sunflower cookies. Serve with rose petal tea.
YOU WILL NEED: broccoli, cauliflower, pansies (optional), sunflower seeds, plates, & cups
20. Review what we learned about flowers.
What did the big flower say to the small flower?
What's up, Bud?
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 on this page, we also really enjoyed reading and learning from How Flowers Grow (Usborne Beginners, Level 1) by Emma Helbrough, Flowers (First Discoveries) by René Mettler (which has really neat see-through pages), Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert (which is great for toddlers and preschoolers), The Red Poppy by Irmgard Lucht, The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds: A Book About How Living Things Grow by Joanna Cole, Buds and Blossoms: A Book About Flowers (Growing Things) by Susan Blackaby, and The Rose in My Garden by Arnold Lobel. 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.
This 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.
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.
In every state we have lived in, we have purchased a field guide to the wild flowers found in that state. We then check off the ones we see, which encourages our children to always be on the lookout for a new specimen. If you happen to live in Florida, this is a great field guide and is the one I normally carry with us. What I especially like about it is that it includes a chart in the back that lists the options for each character trait (habitat, petal number, leaf arrangement, leaf type, leaf shape, leaf margin, flower arrangement, flower form, & flower color) and then provides an identification key so that you can use those traits to identify the flower.
Great Picture Books on Monet & His Gardens
We also loved "The Magical Garden of Claude Monet" by Laurence Anholt, "Monet" (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists) by Mike Venezia, "Once Upon a Lily Pad: Froggy Love in Monet's Garden" by Kathleen Fain, and "A Blue Butterfly: A Story About Claude Monet" by Bijou Le Tord. Also look for "Philippe in Monet's Garden" by Lisa Jobe Carmack, "Linnea in Monet's Garden" by Cristina Bjork, and "Katie Meets the Impressionists" by James Mayhew.
Looking for Free Flower Lapbooks?
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
Great YouTube Clips on Flowers
Ready for the next lesson?
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!
Which flower is your favorite?
© 2013 Shannon