Little Bits of Botany for the Little Ones
Regardless of where your kiddo gets their formal education, incorporating a fun little science experiment into your household lives can fill their minds with wonder for the world in which they live! Recently, my husband got the urge to fill one of our fallow 4’x4’ raised beds with black oil sunflower seeds from our bird feeder. Much to our amazement, our once weed-filled unplanted box is now bursting at the seams with radiant sunflowers! This presented a perfect opportunity to sneak a little learning into our day.
For this experiment, you’ll need an area to plant your sunflowers and a handful of seeds (either from bird seed or a packet of sunflowers meant for growing). We chose an unused raised bed but you can also use a large flower pot, you’ll just have fewer plants. You could also till a 4’x4’ area of your lawn that gets great sun. Once the area is prepared, sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the soil and rake them in a little. Have your child help you water and monitor the progress of the sprouts over the next few weeks. Soon, your sunflowers will shoot towards the sky and your first bloom with open up for you to ooh and ahh over. Our 5 year old got a kick out of the flowers being taller than her!
Once you get your first bloom, your kiddo can start tracking the blooms daily. For my kindergartener, I chose to just chart for a week. With some help from my little botanist, I drew up a simple chart that had columns for the day, how many blooms and the height of the tallest flower. Every day we counted the blooms, measured the tallest, then used math to figured out how many more blooms we had than the day before and how much more the tallest one grew. We also talked about what sunflowers need to grow, the importance of pollination via bees and butterflies, and how some bugs eat garden plants (caterpillars) but other bugs will eat those bugs (wasps). One day she also decided to take her camera out and capture some pictures. It was a fun lesson that incorporated writing, reading, math and biology - all the while my kid just thought she was growing flowers.
I’ll have to say that my favorite part of our week long study was harvesting our flowers and bringing the little bits of sunshine in doors for our whole family to enjoy.