Scientists use their senses to observe and formulate questions.
In this lesson a first grade class observes sunflower heads.
WOW [Wonderful Object of Wonder]: 5 large sunflower heads and 1 sunflower still on its stem.
Objectives: Children will name their senses and then use them to make observations and create questions (Linguistic, physical, cognitive, and creative development). Children will estimate the number of seeds in a flower head and then count them. They will estimate the height of the sunflower plant and measure it (Common Core: CCSS.Math.Content.1.NBT.A.1; CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.A.2)
Presentation: Sit children in small groups and set a sunflower head before them. Ask the following questions and allow time for every child to share his or her ideas several times.
What can we observe about sunflowers?
…with our eyes
- What colors do we see?
- What shapes do we see?
- How many do we see?
“The seeds are striped.” “They’re white and black.” “And gray and brown.” “The leaves are green and brown.” “There are yellow things like cups where the seeds have fallen out.” “There are fuzzy things on the seeds.” “There’s thousands of seeds.”
…with our fingers
- Is it wet, dry or both?
- Is it hard, soft, smooth, bumpy or all of these?
- Does it stay together or fall apart?
“Feels hard and bumpy.” “Loose. the seeds are loose.” “The brown part on the outside falls apart.” “Ugh. This part is wet.” “I can put my finger through it.” “Feels curvy like a funny shape ball.”
…with our noses
- Does it smell strong or not very much?
- Does it smell like something you have smelled before?
- Does it smell nice or yucky?
“Smells like chocolate milk.” Like dirt.” “Tickles my nose.” “Smells fuzzy.” Smells like a rainy day.” “Smells like wet paper.” “Good. It smells good.” “I like how it smells.” “Yuck. I don’t think so.”
…with our ears
- Without moving or touching it, does it make any noise?
- Does it make a noise when you touch it?
- When might it make noise?
“I don’t hear anything.” “It’s quiet.” “It’s just sitting there.””It crinkles when I touch it.” “It’s like dead.” “Sounds like paper.” “It would make noise in the wind, I think.”
Solicit questions: Next gather child-generated questions and list on board or chart paper.
- Is it alive? (the seed)
- How does it get so big from such a little seed?
- How tall is it?
- What are these little yellow and brown flower things?
- How many seeds are there?
- Do they blow over in the wind?
- Can we plant them [the seeds] now?
Have children make predictions for each question
Together with the children devise tests and do research to find the answers to the children’s questions.
For example: Set up a center where the children can remove all the seeds from a sunflower head and count them. At another center put out the different measuring tools and the sunflower on its stalk to find out how tall it is. Provide cups and dirt and plant some of the seeds to find out if they are alive. Put out books about sunflowers and find information on the web.
RESULTS & CONCLUSIONS
After all children have had an opportunity to explore the centers, share what they have learned, have them share with the whole group.
Find out what new questions they have and make a list.
- Draw pictures of the sunflowers
- Make up a sunflower song or poem or story
- Do a sunflower dance
- Make sunflower seed pictures
- Pantomime a sunflower seed growing into a sunflower plant
- The scientific name for a sunflower is Helianthus., which is Greek for Sun Flower.
- They are one of the fastest growing plants.
- The tallest sunflower was 25.6 feet tall.
- The sunflower is native to North America and was used as food by the Native Americans.
- Each sunflower head is made up of 1000 to 2000 flowers which turn into the seeds.
- The sunflower is a heliotrope, which means it follows the sun as it crosses the sky each day.
- Oil is made from black sunflower seeds. Snacks are made from white striped ones. You have to crush break open the outer shell to find the edible seed inside.
SUNFLOWER CHILDREN’S BOOKS
A Big Yellow Sunflower by Frances Barry
From Seed to Sunflower by Gerald Legg
Sunflower House by Eve Bunting
This is a Sunflower by Lola Schaefer