Activities that center on the life cycle of flowering plants teach children of all ages about a range of subjects such as plant reproduction and the role of the insect world. A child of any age can learn and understand the basic parts of a flower. For older children, plant activities can involve a range of skills such as drawing, the math involved in measuring and making growth graphs, and investigation. The plant life cycle can be used as a steppingstone to learning about animal reproduction and the food chain.
Parts of the Plant
For children to understand how a plant functions, grows and reproduces, they need to know about the parts of the plant and the purpose of each part. For older children, hand out real plants and ask them to dissect and identify each part by the scientific name such as petal, stigma and filament. For younger children, use stylized pictures of plants and have them choose the basic label for each part from a list, such as seeds, stem, flower and leaves. As a group, discuss the function of each part of the plant.
Have the class learn about the environment that a plant needs for healthy growth. A plant needs access to light, water, nutrients and often wind or insects for pollination. As a class project, plant seeds under different conditions to see how different environments affect growth. If one tray of seedlings is not growing as well as another, have the class suggest reasons and solutions. Produce worksheets monitoring seedling growth, leaf development and bud development. Draw or photograph each stage.
Life Cycle of Plants
Take children through the life cycle of the plant, starting from the seed, through photosynthesis to the flowering of the adult plant. Continue to an explanation of pollination and the development of the seeds once flowers are fertilized. Explain different methods of pollination -- for example, insect, wind or artificial -- and what conditions a seed needs in order to germinate. Have children draw a diagram that shows how the growth and reproduction process is continuous.
On a field trip, have each child find a different type of flower. Ideally, children should find three flowers in three different stages of development; for example, bud, full flower and seeding. Have them do a project on their chosen flower. They should find out the optimum growth conditions for their plant, its pollination method, and what its seeds look like. Investigate how the plant seeds are spread; for example, by air, water or animal activity.
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