Teaching Ideas : Sunflower Garden
The children can plant and grow sunflowers in the school grounds to demonstrate their grasp of maths and science skills and concepts. The class can identify the best growing conditions for a sunflower and search for suitable growing locations. The children can write instructions about how to plant sunflower seeds so that they grow successfully.
Working in maths, the children can practise measurement skills by keeping track of their height of the plants and by converting between different units. The class could also harvest the sunflower seeds produced by the plants that can be weighed using scales in grams.
Spend some time in the classroom discussing with the class the conditions necessary to hep sunflowers grow. Work with the children to list some of the factors that might encourage and affect the growth of sunflowers such as access to water, light and sir. The class could perform some tests with different plants to demonstrate what happens when they receive no light, air or water. The children could use the results to suggest the best ways of caring for any planted sunflowers. They can also investigate nutrients that can be found in soil to help sunflowers to grow. The class could test different types of soils to see which material is best at retaining water and other nutrients to support the growth of the sunflowers.
The children can use their understanding about the suitable growing conditions for sunflowers to find matching locations in the school grounds to make a garden to plant the sunflowers. Split the class into pairs and provide them with a map of the school grounds. Tell the children to record on the map different locations in the school grounds where the sunflowers could be planted. Get them to list reasons as to why each location would be suitable to support the growth of sunflowers. Back in the classroom, get the children to share their suggestions for garden locations based on their scientific knowledge of how plants grow. The class can try using persuasive language to persuade each other to choose their location for the sunflower garden.
Working in English, the children can compose a set of instructions about how the sunflowers can be planted and grown. Remind the class to demonstrate in their instructions their scientific understanding about the factors needed to support plant growth by providing the sunflowers with adequate light, air and water. Establish with the class how they need to use imperative verbs at the start of each instruction to command the reader to perform an action. The children should also select simple vocabulary to make sure their instructions are easy to understand and follow.
Once the sunflowers have been planted and start growing the class can keep a record of their changing heights by taking measurements in millimetres and centimetres. Show the children how to use garden canes to record the height of their sunflower. They can then use rulers and tape measures along the garden canes to find the changing height of their sunflowers. The children could use line graphs to keep track of changes in the sunflower heights. Some of the class can also practise converting the heights of the measured sunflowers between different units of measurement such as changing heights in centimetres into metres.
Once the sunflowers have grown the children can practise harvesting the seeds that have grown in the head of each flower. After the seeds have been dried in a warm location, the children can practise measuring the mass of the seeds collected from different flowers using a set of scales. The class can also suggest ways of using the harvested seeds such as a food source for pet animals. Get the children to design and make packaging to sell their sunflower seeds for a range of purposes.
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