Ready to let creativity and exploration bloom? In this colorful unit study, we’ll explore the science and makeup of flowers while also improving skills around reading, math, art, and more. (Note for grownups: We aren’t going to talk about pollination this week, but look for that lesson in our upcoming Insects + Spiders Unit and Butterflies Unit.) Click here for our downloadable skills tracker to keep a record of what you read and work on.
Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.
What you need:
Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):
- What’s Inside a Flower? And Other Questions About Science and Nature by Rachel Ignotofsky
- The Flower Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta
Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):
- fresh flowers – throughout the week, your child will need 3-6 flowers for an arranging activity, three white flowers for a stem experiment (carnations or daisies are ideal), one lily for dissection, three flowers for a painting project (any inexpensive blooms will do), a few petals for a playdough recipe, and a few flowers you can set aside to dry early in the week to make potpourri.
- 3-5 small vases or jar (ideally at least one with a narrow neck)
- small funnel (optional)
- small pitcher or glass measuring cup
- small knife or scissors
- plastic tweezers (optional)
- cutting board
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- laminator + laminating sheets (optional, but recommended for repeating lessons)
- ingredients for this playdough recipe (optional for modification, or if your child loves playdough!)
- glass bowl
- magnifying glass (optional)
- large leaf from outside
- food coloring
- plastic water bottle (optional for modification)
- masking tape
- measuring tape (could also use yard stick or ruler)
- sunflower seeds
- plastic or paper cups
- spray bottle (optional)
- orange or dried orange slices (optional for potpourri)
- floral essential oils (optional for potpourri)
What to do:
We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!
To start the week, let’s read What’s Inside a Flower? You can either read the entire book or meet your child where they are in their attention span.
Activity 1: What better way to start off flowers week then by making your own arrangement to enjoy all week long? Here’s a brief video on how your child can create their own bouquet.
Activity 2: The best way to learn the parts of a flower is to hold one in your hand and dissect it. Use this video as your guide. Have a flower (preferably a lily) for your child to dissect along with the educator in the video. (If you are working with more than one child, we suggest that each child have their own flower!) Use these cards to separate the parts of your flower as you dissect them.
(+) Page 8 of that printable also has the flower part words spelled out. If you are working with movable letters to reinforce spelling, use these cards as models. This is also a great way to practice copy work!
Activity 3: Reinforce the dissection with this felt activity. Cut out the pieces in advance and have your child build the flower and identify the parts as they do. The blogger doesn’t include the pistil and stamens, but you can add those in, too.
(-)Alternatively, you can print this sheet, laminate it, and use playdough to make the flower parts. Need a playdough recipe? Try this flower petal play dough and add some lavender oil for some extra flower power. 🌸
Activity 4: Lets do some flower math. Print, cut, and laminate (if possible) these free, downloadable number flowers. That post suggests using these flowers in a scavenger hunt, as well as a few other play options that may interest your child. Additionally, you can try these ideas to use the flowers to work on different skills:
- Using manipulatives or clothespins, count out each card to learn the number values.
- Practice greater than and less than values. Again, use manipulatives to make this abstract idea more concrete.
- Play “fill in the missing number.” For example, put 5, 6, and 8 on the table in front of your child. Ask your child to identify what’s missing and place the correct flower number in the empty space.
(+) Let’s practice making 10! Ask your child to find two number cards that add up to 10. Next, ask them to find another combination that adds to 10 and continue until you’ve found all the combinations or as long as they are engaged.
Today, we’re going to learn about the different jobs that different parts of the flower do. Focus on the pages of our book that talk about the flower’s parts as you do each activity. Each page offers a lot of detail, so read as much as your child is able to listen to.
Activity 1: Plant respiration experiment.
Activity 2: Next, let’s dig a little deeper into the flower’s roots. (Pun intended!) The roots are the plant’s warehouse—they anchor the plant, absorb water and minerals from the soil, and store the extra food the leaves make. This blogger has a simple experiment and a craft to go along with it. (That post is missing the tree printable for the craft, so you can use this printable. If your child is interested, you can also add leaves to the tree.)
Note: Our book also talks about what you find in the soil, so take time to talk about those important and interesting details too.
Activity 3: Finally, let’s take a look at the flower stem. Stems keep plants upright. They also act like a straw, bringing things up and down. The stem brings water and nutrients from the soil up to the leaves, and then it brings food from the leaves back down to the roots. Let’s learn more about how this happens with this experiment. It will take over a week to see the full results, but it will be wonderful to keep watching the change occur. Try to use white carnations or daisies for best results. (This can also be done with celery if flowers aren’t easy to come by.)
There are some pretty incredible flowers in the world. Today, let’s learn about a few! Start by reading The Flower Alphabet Book.
Activity 1: Let’s learn the names of a few flowers with these printable cards. Besides learning the names of these flowers, you can also use them to play a game of Memory or Go Fish!
(+) If you are working with a moveable alphabet or letter cards, let your child practice trying to “write” some of the flower names with their letters.
Activity 2: The flower with the world’s largest bloom is the Rafflesia arnoldii. This rare flower is found in the rainforests of Indonesia, and it can grow to be three feet across and weigh up to 15 pounds! (Source) Watch this video to see what it looks like. Next, using masking tape, draw out the flower on the ground and measure it so that your child gets a concrete picture of just how huge this bloom is. Then, measure your child and compare the two measurements. Finally, measure one of the flowers from your bouquet and compare all three. (There’s also a picture of this flower in our book this week.)
Activity 3: Flower word families activity.
Activity 4: Flower painting craft.
Flowers come in many sizes, shapes, and colors. Some flowers even become fruit or nuts! Today, review or focus on the pages in our flowers book that highlight the variety of blooms in the world.
Activity 1: From seed to sunflower activity. Print out page 18 from that printout (you can also print pages 28-34 and 65 as you will need them in the next activity). Show your child the process of what you’re about to do as you prepare to do the real thing together. This project can be observed over several days and weeks.
Activity 2: Next, use pages 28-34 of your printout for some sunflower math. These cards can be used to practice several levels of math skills, so use the ones that are right for your child. Remember to use manipulatives (or tangible objects for counting) to make these abstract concepts come to life.
Activity 3: Let’s sing a flower nursery rhyme.
(+) Activity 4: Word search. If your child is ready for the challenge, use page 65 of your printout to practice some vocabulary and spelling.
Welcome to Art + Music Day! Let’s let some creativity bloom with these activities.
Activity 1: Flowers have been the subject of art since, well, forever! Let’s look at two artists who painted flowers in two very different ways: Georgia O’Keeffe and Rachel Ruysche.
O’Keeffe painted a style called modernism. Check out this site to see a few of her flower pictures. Share some of the facts about her life in that post while you examine her pictures.
Now take a look at Ruysche’s picture of this arrangement. Here are some questions you can ask your children to get them thinking critically about the art:
- How does O’Keeffe paint flowers differently than Ruysche?
- What shapes do you see?
- Does O’Keeffe like to paint with curves or straight lines?
- How would you describe the colors she uses?
- Now look at Ruysche’s picture. What kind of colors do you see in this picture? What feeling does her picture give you? How does it make you feel differently than O’Keeffe’s?
- When looking at Ruysche’s picture, where do your eyes look first? Why? How does she use color to catch your attention?
Activity 2: Listen to the Waltz Of The Flowers by Tchaikovsky. This classical song was inspired by flowers and is commonly thought of as part of The Nutcracker ballet. Watch and listen to the song in the video while you do the next activity.
Activity 3: Next, try this simple Georgia O’Keeffe flower collage craft. Be sure to point out the parts of the flower as your child layers their flower.
Activity 4: Have some of your blooms begun to wilt? Use this tutorial to turn dry flowers into potpourri. (Note: You don’t have to rush this one! If your child is still enjoying their bouquet, just keep this in mind as a way to repurpose the flowers when they are on their way out.)
Optional field trip: If possible, try to visit a botanical garden in your area this week. (Some colleges and universities also have public gardents for students studying botany, so see if this is available in your area!) This is a great time of year to see many blooms in person. As you visit, make connections to all the lessons we did this week. The best part of a field trip is that you get to use your senses, so take time to smell and touch the flowers and look closely at their parts.
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