Monday, May 18, 2015

Exploratory Science Unit: A Hands-on, Interactive Preschool Lesson on Flower Anatomy

To capitalize on the beautiful spring blooms all around us, I decided to take my son on a flower scavenger hunt. Turning it into a learning experience, I told him we were going to be scientists, observing flowers, gathering facts, and creating a diagram.

I gathered up our materials: Science Notebooks, colored pencils, flowers, and his magnifying glass.

I started by explaining what a science journal is and what we will be using them for. My son rarely does things without having an authentic purpose, so he seemed rather impressed by the thought of being a scientific observer!

As an active, tactile learner, I love giving my son these wooden colored pencils to use. They are chunky, to fit his little fingers, and they have the texture of tree bark, giving him something to manipulate while he draws and writes.

His first order of business was to write the topic of the day's observations: Flowers. As I've shared in previous posts, he resists practicing his letters just for the sake of writing letters, but if his writing has a purpose, such as scientific observations, he is the most dedicated of writers :-)

Armed with our journals, a pencil, and his magnifying glass, we went on a flower-seeking mission on the property.

His first flower discovery was the delicate yellow flowers hanging on our tomato plant. With this discovery, I asked him a few questions, as he expertly observed through his magnifying glass:

  • What color is the flower?
  • What is the flower attached to?
  • What other parts do you see on the plant? 

We continued our scavenger hunt through the yard and found more flowers, to which I asked, "What are you observing about the flower colors?"

We made a quick notation in our science journals about the various colors we had found so far.

Then, came the fun part! My son and I talked about the parts of the flower we had seen above ground, reviewing the rough sketches we had made along our journey; then, I asked him what part is under the ground? Of course, he knew it to be roots, but we had to confirm our "theory" with actual evidence, so we found a weed growing in one of the planters and pulled it up for observation.

After adding the root to our rough draft sketch, we sat down to review the flower parts. As my son drew his final diagram, we talked about the proper colors to use: brown for the dirt and green for the stem and leaves.

While I support my son's freedom to express his creativity when drawing and coloring, I also want him to understand the importance of factual representation when we work on a science project. So, for this particular activity, I suggested we use the actual colors as we had observed.

His creativity came in to play when he got to choose the color of his flower petals! Before he drew his flower at the top of his stem, though, we talked about how many petals his flower would have, and I had him practice the petal shape in the top right corner of his page.

With his drawing complete, I labeled each part as he named them for me.

All-in-all, I found this interdisciplinary activity very successful because my son got practice writing and sounding out his letters, while stepping into the role, both figuratively and literally, of scientist. I was able to tap into his interests, by allowing him to use his magnifying glass and choose the color for the petals, and I engaged his active mind by taking him on a scavenger hunt.

I would love to hear how you engage your young learners through dynamic, interdisciplinary learning activities! Please share in the comments below.

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