We joined the Nature Explorers Club last week and the theme was Flower to Seed. This was a really great lesson for us to jump in with our boots on! What I loved so much about it is that 1. heirloom seed saving is one of my interests 2. we got outdoors for some great learning and 3. I was able to purposefully combine my tot school and my preschool time with Mali and Elli for some fun nature study and crafts that they could do together! We also read some great books that tied nicely into our nature study.
The Tiny Seed, by Eric Carle (This is a cute story about the journey of a tiny seed that is carried by the wind, eventually lands, germinates and grows into a big flower that produces more tiny seeds!)
Ten Seeds, by Ruth Brown (This is a great story that begins with 10 seeds, but only one makes it to become a flower that eventually makes ten more seeds! ~ A great counting down book and I had fun counting sunflower seeds with Eliana while reading this.)
Sunflowers to Sunflower Seeds
We found the biggest flower that we could think of, the sunflower! We spent some time at a friends house admiring her Mammoth sunflowers. I read that they can grow up to twelve feet tall! Mali is just over three feet, so you can see how tall these ones are! I showed Mali and Elli the little flowers in the center and explained that the sunflower is called a composite flower and is made up of many tiny flowers. We got to see several flowers in different stages of seed production.
First Sketches ~ A Sunflower
Mali and Elli's first nature sketch! While they drew we listened for nature sounds. We heard bees buzzing and a chirping sound. We also talked about the weather. It was a perfect sunny day (not a cloud in the sky).
From Flower to Seed Container
We looked around to find flowers and "seed containers." I explained that a fruit is a seed container, so anything that has seeds in it is a fruit. We then looked for all the "seed containers" we could find (squash, pumpkin, tomatoes, etc).
Field Trip to the Seed Company
Since the sunflowers seeds were not ready we took a trip to the local seed company and bought some black oil sunflower seeds. We also picked up some safflower seeds and some mixed seed for an art project.
We also talked about which birds like each seed: cardinals, chickadees, titmice, grosbeaks and finches like black oil sunflower seeds, and cardinals, doves and sparrows like safflower seeds.
Save Those Seeds!
I talked with Mali and Elli about saving the seeds from the fruit we grew in our garden. Then we cut open a squash seed container and found the seeds inside. I showed Elli a packet of seeds that have already been saved and then we made our own seed packet for the seeds we saved. We also counted to 10 with the seeds! We then set the seeds aside to dry.
We took a male squash bloom and pressed it in our homemade leaf press. To make the leaf press, we used two pieces of cardboard and some mini bungees (so simple!). I had Elli lay the bloom in, Mali secured the bungees and then we waited for it to dry.
Once the flower was dry, we put it on a baggie and placed clear tape over it. Then we stored our dried seeds inside.
We made a seed bracelet from the squash seeds we saved. I tied the string through a carpet needle and Elli strung the seeds - one by one.
For Elli's I drew a flower with glue and she placed the seeds on the glue design. Mali drew his own design (no surprise there - a tank!) We let the glue dry and then gently shook all the extra seeds off. He was disappointed to see that some of the seeds did not stick, so he sat down to add some more glue!
We made seed shakers to help us make a "joyful noise unto the LORD!"
Big thanks to Jennifer at Blissful Moments for hosting The Nature Explorers Club. See what she did for "Flower to Seed" here, and check out the activities she suggests for this weeks lesson on Oak Trees! I am really hoping to find an oak tree in our neck of the woods, so I can get my little ones outdoors again for some great nature study!