Sunflower Life Cycles

Sunflower Life Cycles

Target Grade Level / Age Range:

Kindergarten – 2nd Grade

Time:

45 minutes

Purpose:

Students will learn about the growth and development of sunflowers and other plants.

Materials:

  • Small white paper plates – one per student
  • Seed to Seed Cycle copied on orange or yellow paper – one per student
  • Large craft sticks or popsicle sticks – one per student
    • These can be purchased at craft stores – most sizes will work for this activity
  • Sunflower seeds – at least 6 per student
  • Green paper, cut into 1” pieces
  • Sunflower heads or pictures of sunflower heads
  • Glue and/or Tape
  • Crayons

Suggested Companion Resources:

  • Seed Soil Sun  by Cris Peterson
  • Sunflower House be Eve Bunting

Vocabulary:

  • Life Cycle – the stages a living thing goes through in its life
  • Seed – a flowering plant’s unit of reproduction that is capable of growing into a new plant
  • Sprout – the shoot of a new plant coming from the seed
  • Flower -  the seed-bearing part of a plant that consists of reproductive organs and petals
  • Fruit – the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or plant that contains the seeds

Interest Approach or Motivator:

Students will create their own sunflower while learning about the sunflower cycle and the growth and development of plants.

Background – Agricultural Connections:

Farmers in the United States grow sunflowers, which can be used for birdseed, snacks and cooking oil. Some people like to snack on sunflower seeds, and the sunflower kernel may be used and snacks and as a topping on salad! Sunflowers are native to North America, and are thought to have originated where the states of Arizona and New Mexico are now located. Sunflowers have a deep root system that allow them to maximize soil water. Sunflowers can be pressed for oil. Sunflower oil is a trans-fat-free vegetable oil.

Procedures:

  1. Read the book Sunflower House by Eve Bunting to the students. Discuss with students the meaning of a “life cycle.”
  2. Show students the sunflower head or pictures. Talk with them about how many new plants can grow from sunflower seeds.
  3. Distribute the activity supplies.
  4. Glue the Seed to Seed Cycle in the middle of the paper plate, and set aside. 
  5. Ask students what the first step in the Seed Cycle is (seed). Have students glue one sunflower seed about 1” up the craft stick, as if they were planting a seed in the ground and the stick is the stem that would grow from the seed.
  6. Ask students what the next step in the cycle is (sprout). Talk with them about what is needed for a seed to germinate. Have students draw roots on their craft stick below the seed with the brown crayon.
  7. Ask students what the next step is (grow). As the stems and leaves begin to grow, have students cut out leaves from the green paper and glue them to the stick above the seed.
  8. Ask students what step 4 is (flower). Have them color the white paper plate around the Seed to Seed Cycle. Use scissors to snip the plate edges to the center circle to create flower petals.
  9. Talk with students about step 5 (fruit). Students should glue sunflower seeds to the center of the Seed to Seed Cycle.
  10. Tape or glue the paper plate flower to the craft stick.

Essential Files:

Did you know? (Ag facts):

  • Sunflowers are primarily grown in North and South Dakota. Several other states, such as Minnesota and California, also produce sunflowers. Kansas is even called the Sunflower State!
  • The average yield for sunflowers is 1,513 pounds per acre.

Extension Activities:

Have students talk through the Sunflower Life Cycle starting at differing points.

Sources/Credits:

Adapted from Growing in the Garden

Author:

Sue Cook

Organization Affiliation:

Floyd County Agriculture in the Classroom           

Agriculture Literacy Outcomes:

  • Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy Outcomes, K-2, Science: Identify the importance of natural resources (e.g. sun, soil, water, minerals) in farming
  • Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy Outcomes, K-2, Science: Explain how farmers/ranchers work with the lifecycle of plants and animals (planting/breeding) to harvest a crop

Iowa Core Standards:

  • S.K–2.LS.2 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand and apply knowledge of life cycles of plants and animals.
  • S.K–2.LS.3 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand and apply knowledge of the basic needs of plants and animals and how they interact with each other and their physical environment.
  • S.K–2.ES.3 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand and apply knowledge of events that have repeating patterns.