Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sunflower Science (and Art...and Writing)

An incredible mentor professor/teacher introduced me to this activity. She did it with her class at the beginning of the year. When I taught third grade, I began the year the same way. I've added parts and tweaked it over the years, but it continues to be a winner!

Day One
Ask child to look closely at a sunflower, drawing a picture of everything they can see. (It's best to have a sunflower with seeds rather than just the ornamental kind shown in the photo.) Ask them to do some "5 Sense Science" and brainstorm a list of words that describe the flower...seeing, hearing, tasting (seeds), touching, smelling.

Day Two
Using the same flower, provide a magnifying glass and have the child draw the flower as seen using the tool. Again, use descriptive words to tell about what is seen under some magnification.

Day Three
Again, with the same flower, separate small pieces (petals, leaves, seeds, etc.) and look at them under a microscope. We use an inexpensive one with results adequate for this exercise. Draw new pictures and, if desired, create a new list of descriptive words.

Day Four (optional)
Write a descriptive paragraph or poem about a sunflower. Try to describe it so that a person who has never seen one could picture it...see/hear/taste/touch/feel.

And, since we're just finished Sign of the Beaver, this applies...
In the movie, The Sign of the Beaver, a colonial boy, looking for a snare, says that he can't see anything. The Native American grandfather replies, "All of creation is here. Look close. Like you're reading words."

Look closely at a sunflower. You'll find a lot to admire.

Link up to something you did on your first day of school! 


  1. I wanted to grow a sunflower this past summer to measure her height next to it but never got around to it. Maybe next year and then we can do these exercises!

  2. Aren't sunflowers fascinating? I've been meaning to have my daughter look more closely at our sunflowers so she can see the amazing spirals and other interesting parts. I was surprised how massive the stalks are!

  3. Kind of Five in a Row, nature study style. I like this idea of repeatedly looking, seeing deeper and more closely each time.

  4. This is really a fantastic approach! I'm sure your children will KNOW the sunflower when they have really looked at it this way!
    We need to keep digging deeper and describe what we observe. I will definitely give this a try!
    Thank the Lord for devoted mentors! You are privileged to have one. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thank you for submitting this to the hands on carnival. I like the method. It reminds me of A Private Eye Naure Study where you look, write and draw what you see through magnification.

  6. I LOVE this! This is the kind of thing we do at my Earth School for homelearners. We do nature walks and nature journaling and children love to observe and discover, and the more they do the more observant they become..in all other aspects of the world too :)

    Thanks for sharing!

    Happy day!


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