Today, in our science class, we are talking about plant parts. The curriculum the school uses teaches Godly Character traits and the trait for today’s lesson is “being cooperative”. I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about something many young children often do not realize: each part of a plant has a very important job. Just like each person in our home or classroom has an important job. If you want to use a Bible Verse for this character, Psalm 133:1
How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
So let’s look at the jobs of each part of a plant. I will be using a sunflower today, as an illustration. Pictures of sunflowers can be found on the computer and this is a great time for sunflower harvest in yards. If you are using a real sunflower, be sure and pull it from the root, because the root is an important part of the plant! If you can’t find a sunflower, you can use parts from different plants. For example, dried beans are seeds, and are great for showing the embryo in the seed.
These are the points of discussion for the plant parts:
- Flowers, on all plants, are used for the same reason: to make seeds so another plant can grow. (I start with an open ended question like: Why are flowers on plants? I usually get answers similar to: because they are pretty, because they help the plant smell good, so bees can eat, and my favorite over the years, “So I have something to give to my Mommy and my teacher to get them happy!”
- Leaves are the parts of the plant where food is made by photosynthesis. You do not have make the idea of photosynthesis difficult for young children. They love learning new “big words” and will usually pay attention if you get all excited about this “big word.” Photosynthesis literally means “putting together with light”. In plants, it is the process of using the energy of the sun, the carbon dioxide from the air (which humans breathe out), and water (from rain or from humans watering the plant) to create food so the plant can grow. When this process happens, oxygen is given off, which we breathe in, so photosynthesis is important to humans. For the plant, sugar is produced, which the plant eats. This is what makes the leaves green. In the fall, our sun has moved and gives less light, causing photosynthesis to stop for the winter. This is the reason the leaves turn colors in the fall. In the winter, the sun is further away and even less light, so the leaves fall off the trees. I had preschoolers that made up this little “repeat after me” song, one year (It is kind of a rap type cheer):
Light from the sun goes to the plant, Light from the sun goes to the plant,
Sugar is made and the plant can eat, Sugar is made and the plant can eat,
The leaves turn green, the leaves turn green,
They loved this big word so much, I heard the word almost everday at recess for the rest of the year. One warmer winter day (we are in Tennessee) a child came up with a piece of grass from the ground and said, “Look Miss Lori, we are having photosynthesis even in winter!” That led to a whole new discussion!!
- Flowers are the parts of the plant that make seeds so we can have new plants. There is a reason for the petals of a flower to smell nice. The smell attracts insects, like bees, who take the pollen (yellow powder) from one plant to another. Once a flower has been pollinated, the petals will begin to fall off, and seeds will start to form. On plants like fruit trees, the seed are inside of the fruit
- Stems support the plant and help to hold it upright. Water, vitamins and minerals travel up the stem to leaves and the sugar that is made in the leaves travels down the stem to the roots. Food is also stored in the stem until the plant needs it.
- Roots hold the plant firmly in the ground. The water, vitamins, and minerals actually get into the plant through the roots. Some plants, like potatoes, radishes, carrots, and sweet potatoes store food in the roots.
- Seeds contain a tiny embryo of a plant inside. Each seed half contains “seed food” which supplies energy to the planted seed until the plant grows its first leaves.
Now that we have talked about the parts of the plant, we are going to make a sunflower with all of the parts. For this project you will need:
- A large sheet (I use 12×18, but you can simply tape two pieces together) of light blue. If you don’t have light blue, use regular blue or you can let your child color a piece of white with a blue color.
- Yellow, green, and brown construction paper. (For small children, I like to precut the shapes I will need: A 3-5” brown strip, the width of the paper, a stem at about 1 ½ inches, four leaf shapes per child, 12 yellow tear drop shapes for the petals of the sunflower.) I am limited on time in teaching my lesson. For children at home or in a classroom, where I can more than one day to do this, I draw out the shapes with a thick permanent marker and let the children cut them out. They won’t be as “precise”, but they will get cutting practice.
- Glue (I like to use crafter’s glue on the center, to hold the seeds. For the rest, I use regular glue.)
- White yarn cut into 3-6” strips. You will need at least 8 per child.
- Sunflower seeds (I buy sunflower seeds as bird food, not people food. They are less expensive and much more natural without being roasted.)
I like to review the parts and have the child(ren) add that part to the project as we go. I like to start with the seed.
Start by having your child glue or staple a 3-5” piece of brown paper at the bottom of your sky sheet.
“The seed falls from the sunflower to the ground, gets covered up.” Glue a seed to the brown paper.
“With the moisture of the ground and warmth from the sun, the seed sprouts. When it sprouts the roots also sprout and begin growing nice and strong to firmly hold the plant in the ground and absorb water and nutrients for the plant.” Glue the yarn strips to the dirt, coming from the seed.
“The stem of the plant begins growing out of the ground. It will support the leaves and the heavy sunflower head. As it grows, it carries the water and nutrients from the roots, to the leaves and flower.” Glue a green stem on the ground.
“As the stem grows, leaves form, in order to go through the photosynthesis process and make sugar, food, for the plant.” Glue leaf shapes to the stem.
“At the top of the stem, a flower will start to grow. Petals will begin to open. The petals and flower center will begin to smell and attract insects.” Glue the petals to the top of the stem, like a flower.
I accidentally added the glue to the center before photographing..oops!!
“The pollination from the insects will cause seeds to begin to grow. They will become dry over time, fall to the ground, and the process will begin, again.” Glue the sunflower seeds to the center of the flower.
Now, to give it a finishing touch, I like to add a “peek-a-boo” feature. I staple a strip, of green, just a little wider than the dirt, over the dirt. The “grass” can then be lifted to see the roots underneath.
Our children will write the verse from Psalm 133:1 on the front of the green strip. Our final project will look like this.
Have fun with this one! One other extension project you can do is actually glue each plant part, from a real plant, to a sheet of card stock and label the part.
You can make a pictorial book your child can read, by taking, or letting your child take, pictures of each part. Put the photos in a Word document and type the part name under each picture. Cut apart, staple the pages together, and you have a book!!