Add some pizzazz to your plants unit by teaching the structure and function of flowers. Need some ideas? First, introduce kids to pollination and pollinators. Second, engage them in a dissection activity. Finally, if you’re up for it, ask them to write a sequence paragraph to seal the deal.
Ms. Sneed Has Some Fabulous Ideas for Teaching Flowers
Our favorite fourth grade teacher just couldn’t wipe the grin off her face. “Finally!” she said to her teaching partner. “Flowers. Sure, I like teaching seeds and germination. Of course, our roots and stems activities are fun. And introducing photosynthesis and leaf parts challenges me in a good way. But this rules.”
Now it was Mr. Frank’s turn to grin. Yep. Ms. Sneed liked teaching plants. But she especially loved explaining the pollination process. And her favorite part was dissecting flowers. For this activity, she was all in.
How to Teach Pollination
“This year in life science,” Ms. Sneed continued, “I changed up the reading material and diagram for flowers.” As she spoke, she pulled a few sheets of paper out of her teacher bag.
Reading About Pollination
“As you can see, we’ll discuss the process by which pollen enters the ovary. First, the pollen must land on the stigma. Then a pollen tube forms and stretches through the filament. Once it reaches the ovary, fertilization occurs. Voila! A seed is formed.
“Next, kids will learn about pollinators. Of course, some flowers are pollinated by wind. But most need help. That’s where insects, bats, and birds come in. Especially bees though. As they drink nectar from the flower, pollen sticks to their furry coats. When they move, some drops onto the stigma.
“Finally, we’ll explain how the ovary then becomes a fruit. As we’ve all seen happen, the petals wither and fall off. Then the ovary swells. Next thing you know, you’ve got fruit – with seeds inside.”
Experiencing Pollination Through Video
Ms. Sneed took a breath. “Now check out the pollination video I found. It is absolutely awesome.”
She clicked a link. Soon, the two teachers were immersed in images of bees, birds, and bats pollinating flowers.
When the four-minute movie ended, Mr. Frank sighed. “Breathtaking.”
Showing What They Know
“Isn’t it? I almost hate to mention the next step. But in order to cement the concepts, students will complete a worksheet. On it, they’ll label parts and explain processes.”
Mr. Frank gave a thumbs-up. “I’m good with that.”
Flowers and Dissection
Ms. Sneed shuffled her papers. “Next,” she said, “dissection! This year, I’d like each child to dissect their own flower.”
“I can help with that,” said Mr. Frank. “Last year, we got them in the floral department of the grocery store.”
“Right. They generally carry alstroemeria. Because the stems have multiple flowers, they make a good value. And getting them when I do my weekly shopping makes it super convenient.”
“However,” Mr. Frank replied, “my friend, who works as a local florist, said he’d donate some this year.”
“Perfect! What else do we need?” Now Ms. Sneed studied the student response sheet. “Since we want our kiddos to measure each part, we’ll need rulers. And to dissect, I’ll give each child a pin. It works well as a miniature scalpel.”
“Don’t forget the black construction paper and magnifying glasses. When they work on black mat, parts of the flower can be observed so much better.” Mr. Frank pulled out a scrap of paper and listed the materials: rulers, pins, black paper, magnifying glasses.
Writing About Pollination of Flowers
“I have one thing to add,” said Mr. Frank. “When we finish teaching seeds, our kids write sequence paragraphs on germination. I’d like to do the same thing with flowers.”
“Hmm. Sure, we’d be repeating the same process, but I like it. For one thing, our students need as much practice as possible. And writing about pollination would force them to carefully explain the process. What a great way to integrate science and writing.”
Now Mr. Frank pulled out a paper. “I found this hamburger organizer for teaching sequence paragraphs. Before my students write, I’ll use it to review.”
Ms. Sneed studied the page. “This is great! Can you make a copy for me?”
Mr. Frank let out a satisfied sigh. “Activities like this really make me enjoy teaching. Sure, the dissection lab is the highlight. But every other component adds something special. At the beginning, we use a concise information sheet to explain flower parts and pollination. Then we follow up with that awesome video. And at the end, we don’t just give them a test. Instead, they write about it.”
Both teachers smiled. This was the good life.