Saturday, March 11, 2017

March 12 - Plant a Flower Day

Spring is my FAVORITE time of year, when color and warmth start creeping back into the world, so I am all over any holiday that furthers that along!



Accurate science AND interactive fun! Children clap to make the sun shine, wiggle their fingers to make the rain fall, and so on. At the end we have instructions for growing zinnias, a pretty easy flower to start with.


Extensions: Colors, of course! Take a walk outside with your camera handy, and look for natural examples of different colors. Print them out at home and put them into your own rainbow book.


This is part of a great series for young scientists, which also includes subtopics such as pollination and photosynthesis. That leads us right into...


* We'll start with the obvious - plant a flower! You can start from seeds, and talk about what it needs to grow, or start with flowers from the nursery. Other concepts to learn about:
- annuals vs. perennials
- planting zones
- types of soil

* Another fun, popular experiment is the food-coloring-in-water one. Find white (or at least pale) cut flowers at the local grocery store (and if you have to buy yourself a whole mixed bouquet to get them, well, darn.) 

Look at the flowers together and name the parts (stem, leaves, flower). What is missing (roots)? What do they need the roots for (pulling up water and nutrients)? Can they still do that without roots? Let's see!

Put different colors of food coloring in glasses of water, and put a flower in each glass (you may want to give the ends a tiny trim first). Watch over the next few hours to see the petals change colors. 

Explain how the water (which would normally go in through the roots) travels up the stem to the leaves and flower, sort of the way liquid travels through a straw when we suck on it. Water evaporating through the rest of the plant creates the suction in this case.

Going further: What if you split the stem and put each half in a different color of water (two glasses side by side)? Are there tubes all through the stem, or just in one part? 

Since evaporation creates the suction, what happens if you change the evaporation rate? Place one flower (or set of flowers) in the refrigerator,

one in a steamy bathroom, and one in a dry area or window, for example.

Or next to the fireplace!

 Do they change at the same rate? (Our refrigerator flowers changed faster, which surprised me. The green went fastest, red slowest. We are going to try to look at the water and petals through a microscope later.)

* If you are starting your flowers from seeds, create a science log to show the progress. Tape a sample of each seed in your notebook, then record how many days it takes to germination, what the seed leaves (first two leaves to appear) look like, height each day, later leaves, etc.


* While we are waiting for our flowers to bloom, let's add some color to the house with a collage! Cut flower pictures out of magazines or catalogs, and cover a large piece of paper or poster board.

* Do you still have the flowers from the food coloring experiment? Place some petals in wax paper and press them between the pages of a book. You could also put an entire bloom in a small container and gently cover it with sand to dry it that way - or just hang bunches upside down, around your house! 

* Pick up cheap flower pots at a thrift shop and give them a new life - paint, decoupage, whatever strikes your fancy!

Language Arts

"Flower" and "flour" are homophones - words that sound the same, but mean something entirely different. How many other sets of homophones can you come up with? Start a list that you can add to throughout the week (and be prepared to swerve off the road when your child suddenly yells "deer and dear, Mommy!" in the car).

Can we put any of those sets together? Make flour flowers, for example: 
1 cup salt
2 cups flour
3/4 cup water
by hand, until it is the consistency of clay. Form into flower shapes, then bake at 180 until hard (or air dry, that just takes a lot longer). When dry, paint with acrylic paints to seal.


Learning to count: Make stems (drawn, popsicle sticks, etc.) with circles at the top. Write a different number on each circle. Provide cut-out petals and let children glue the corresponding number of petals on each flower, or draw their own.

Fractions: Let your child color paper plates, cupcake papers, or anything round as flowers, then cut them into halves, thirds, fourths, etc. Let them know what you will be doing so there aren't tears when you cut up their artwork! Practice putting them back together again and counting how many equal sized pieces there are. If you want, you could create a stem for each with the fraction written on it, and glue the pieces back together at the top.

Addition and Subtraction: Have your child draw a flower with 5 or 6 petals. In the center, write a number - say, 12 - and in each petal have your child write an addition or subtraction problem that would end up as 12 (5+7, 14-2, etc.) You can also do multiplication and division, which is harder, but can be an introduction to/practice in factors.

Measuring and Planning: It may still be a bit too cold where you live to start plants outside, but it is never too early to plan! Assign your child a plot of land, and help them draw out a 'map' of where everything in it will go. They will need to research which plants go best near each other, how much spacing is needed between plants, which plants may block the light from others, etc.


Are there other places you can brighten with flowers, besides your own home? Some suggestions: the home of someone who can't do their own gardening, a nursing home, school, library, nonprofit business. Or follow this young man's example, and sow in secret!


Max thinks school is boring, and his uncle Bill's idea of livening things up doesn't sound too exciting either. He gives Max a big bag of seeds for his birthday. At first Max is skeptical, but he follows his uncle's instructions and scatters the seeds on his way to school. From that moment on, unusual things begin to happen, and the changes are simply magical. Wildflowers begin to grow throughout the city, where they've never been before. Suddenly Max becomes the most popular kid in school as his class gets to pick the flowers, draw them, and study them. This was the best gift, after all. Here is a lovely story about how small actions can make a big difference in your own life, and the life of an entire community.

Nursery Rhymes

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells and pretty maids all in a row.


Other Web Sites to Explore

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