After finding Argentina and a few other sunflower-producing countries and states on the map, my class really enjoyed hearing me read a book called Sunflower House by Eve Bunting. We then inspected the dried sunflower head and planted sunflower seeds in small peat pots. While coloring pictures of sunflowers and a map of South America, we ate roasted sunflower seeds. We only have an hour for class, so these activities were all we had time for, but I’ve added a few more ideas in this post in case your class time is longer, or you have extra time at home. Enjoy!
Additional note: I found most of the books mentioned below at my local library – be sure to check your library, too!
Disclosure: The books and supply links below lead to products on Amazon. I am an affiliate and will receive a small commission if these links are used to make a purchase.
Point out the top sunflower seed producing countries and U.S. States on a wall map or globe. Find the city where you live, also. You may want to allow your kids to take turns placing colorful dot stickers on the map as you point out each location.
Scroll down to the end of this post for free printable outline maps of many of these countries for your kids to color.
Top Sunflower Seed Producers
(Source: National Sunflower Association)
- Combined European Union
- South Africa
Kansas: The Sunflower State is a book you may want to read to your older kids (ages first grade and up) if you are studying U.S. history or geography.
My class really enjoyed Sunflower House, a story about a boy who plants sunflowers in a circle in his yard to make an outdoor playhouse for he and his friends. Another book my daughter likes is The Sunflower Parable, a book about a boy who grows sunflowers on his Father’s farm. This is a faith-based book with scripture references.
Plant Sunflower Seeds
You will need:
- Peat Pots (one or two per child)
- Aluminum Foil
- Sunflower Seeds (from dried sunflower head or seed packet)
- Craft/Popsicle Sticks
- Sharpie Pen
- Tablecloth (optional, to protect table)
Wrap the bottom of each peat pot in a square of aluminum foil so the soil won’t fall through the hole in the bottom. If you’d like to keep the mess from the soil to a minimum, you and your adult helper can scoop it into each peat pot instead of the kids.
Allow the kids to inspect the dried sunflower head containing the seeds. The kids in my class were fascinated by this, and enjoyed “harvesting” their own seeds to plant. Break apart the shell (the “pericarp”) of one so they can see the seed inside.
Show the kids how to plant two or three seeds approximately 1″ deep in the soil of each pot. I gave each of mine two pots since they were taking them home that day – I wanted them all to have at least one flower to grow. Tell them to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Let their parents know they can be planted outside as soon as the danger of frost is over.
Write each child’s name on a craft/popsicle stick and insert in their pots. Or, write their names with a Sharpie pen on the outside of their peat pots.
Plant a Sunflower House
Planting a sunflower house is on my “to-do” list this month! If you are teaching this lesson at home, this would be a great finale. Follow the instructions in the book Sunflower Houses: Inspiration From the Garden – A Book for Children and Their Grown-Ups. Or, there are very clear instructions on this page of the Green Education Foundation web site.
For Preschool – Kindergarten
Sunflowers (First Step Nonfiction: Plant Life Cycles) describes the life cycle of a sunflower in simple terms, with large text and lots of photos. Sunflower is a simple story about a girl who plants a sunflower and watches it grow. Very short with sweet illustrations that depict the life cycle of a sunflower. From Seed to Sunflower (Lifecycles) contains beautiful illustrations and simple text.
For First Grade and Up
Sunflower Houses: Inspiration From the Garden–A Book for Children and Their Grown-Ups is a collection of memories, poems, planting projects, crafts, stories, games, and more. Includes inspirations for the Sunflower House and other fun activities.
- Coloring and letter tracing pages (see free printables below)
- The Story of the Sunflower Coloring Book from the National Sunflower Association
You will need:
- Shelled Sunflower Seeds
- Cups and Water
To demonstrate one of the steps in the life cycle of a sunflower, serve sunflower seeds to your class. (Be sure to check with parents for allergies; most containers warn that the seeds are processed on the same equipment as peanuts.)
I recommend serving the seeds that have already been shelled. First, you avoid the mess of spit-out shells, and second, you avoid the risk of a child swallowing a shell. The National Sunflower Association warns against children eating sunflower seed shells.
Your class can eat their snack while coloring some of the free printable pages below! Be sure to tell them that birds like to eat the seeds, too!
Just click on the thumbnails below to open and view. For best results, download to your computer or open in Adobe Reader before printing.
Do you have some great ideas for a sunflower lesson? Please share in the comment section below! Thank you for visiting Cotton Ridge Homeschool!
Copyright 2015 Kathryn Depew
Image of Sunflower from flickr.com used under the Creative Commons license. Image credit: Noel Pennington.
Disclosure: The books and supply links above lead to products on Amazon. I am an affiliate and will receive a small commission if these links are used to make a purchase.