What Are Sunflowers?
A common flower amongst the Native Americans throughout the United States is the sunflower. This amazing flower is used in many ways by tribes. The seeds are ground into flour to be baked into bread and made into a mush to be fried into cakes. The meal is also mixed with vegetables for a main dish. Sunflower oil is made from the seeds and used for cooking. Most children think of sunflowers as food when they munch on the seeds for a snack. All in all, sunflowers are not only pretty to look at, but useful in many ways.
Sunflowers, also known as Black-eyed Susans, are synonymous with summer and warm beautiful weather. Use this concept to present entertaining and educational sunflower preschool activities and even make a sunflower paper plate craft to brighten up the classroom walls.
Start With a Story During Circle Time
With young children it's best to start with a good book to introduce the subject of your theme. One such book is Wild Wild Sunflower Child Anna by Nancy White Carlstrom. This story is about a little girl who frolics through gardens and meadows and captures the essence of a summer day. The verse is melodious with rhymes, rhythms and repetitions. The children can capture the elegance of sunflowers and other foliage through the water colored illustrations.
Use this story to discuss beautiful flowers including the sunflower with the children. Ask them about their favorite flowers and where they find them. Reinforce plant growth during discussions during circle time. Talk about how a sunflower starts as a seed (show an example). The enrichment of the soil, sun and water are needed for growth and how a sunflower grows from something small to become a big and tall flower. Show pictures of the sunflower's center where the seeds are encased and tell the students how these seeds can grow another crop next year.
Let’s Make a Flower Craft
To make a preschool sunflower paper plate craft you will need these materials:
- Lunch size paper plate
- Yellow tempera paint
- Green construction paper
- Yellow crepe paper streamers
- White school glue
Sunflower seeds (the entire seed found bagged in grocery stores)
Invite each child to paint a paper plate yellow.
Tear off pieces of yellow crepe paper streamers and encourage the children to glue them onto the plate's rim as petals.
Spread white glue in the center of the flower and let the children place several seeds in the middle.
Cut out leaves from the green construction paper and attach to the bottom of the plate with glue.
End With a Sunflower Song
Engage your preschoolers with a simple song that teaches growth. The children can hold their paper plate sunflower craft as a prop while singing. Use the tune: I'm a Little Teapot and dramatize the actions while singing.
I'm a little sunflower, I'm so small (sit cross-legged on the floor)
Soil, sun and water make me tall. (pat the floor with the word soil, with sun round your arms overhead, and with the word water, pretend to sprinkle the soil wiggling the fingers)
When I get all grown-up, you will see, (sit up on knees, then begin to stand)
That I'm as big as I can be! (stand tall with arms stretched up high)
(Author unknown, accessed from The Best of Mailbox, Book 2- Preschool/Kindergarten)
Carlstrom White, Nancy; Wild Wild Sunflower Child Anna; Simon & Schuster, 1987
Song courtesy of The Best of Mailbox, book 2 [The Education Center, Inc. – 1999]
Other activities from personal experience in the classroom
Craft Photo by Tania Cowling, all rights reserved
Article Photo by wunee, Morguefile.com