Spring Into Life!
A Collaborative Internet Project

Pattie Knox and Susan Silverman are back again with another great project - Spring Into Life.

The focus of this project is on Science in Spring, specifically plants and animals that "spring into life" at this time of year, so our beautiful daffodils were a natural choice as a focus for our work.

Our work for this project took us
into the world of botany and involved:

  • learning the parts of a flower
  • investigating seeds
  • learning about bulbs

We always know Spring has arrived at our school when it's time for Daffodil Day. This is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society and the flowers bring much joy and hope to all.

See how it inspired us to write wonderful haiku poetry here.
After the bloom had passed on our beautiful daffodils, it was time to begin our scientific investigation. We began with a reading of The Reason for a Flower by Ruth Heller. This helped us to understand the reason for every flower in the world - to make seeds!
Next we learned the names of the parts of a flower.
Using a sheet to guide us, we carefully dissected our daffodil flowers,
matching each part to the names on our sheet.
This was very exciting - we even found some seeds in the ovary!

Our young botanists closely examine their daffodils' flower parts.
Here is a glossary of the flower parts we learned.
petalsare usually colorful and attract birds or insects
pistilis a single stalk in the center of the flower
ovaryis a pouch at the bottom of the pistil
stamensare the stallks that surround the pistil
antheris a sac at the top of each stamen
pollenis a yellowish sticky dust seen on the anthers
sepalssurround the bottom of the flower and protect the ovary
seedsform in the ovary after pollen travels down through the pistil

The children were quite familiar with seeds,
and were SO excited to find seeds in their daffodils.
"Can we plant them?" "Will they grow into daffodils?"
were questions I heard over and over.
I let them know that, of course, they could plant them,
and that scientists discover answers through experimentation,
but that they might be disappointed with the results.
Most of the chidren were VERY surprised to learn
that daffodils grow from bulbs. Some knew nothing about plant bulbs,
so on to our next investigation...
Our current literacy theme was fairy tales,
so we enjoyed a version of Jack and the Beanstalk,
a story in which seeds play an important role.
Did the children know a bean was a kind of seed?
Most did, but did they know the treasure hidden inside?
We soaked lima beans, then carefully pried them open.
We found a tiny plant with a root and leaves inside!
(Some children marveled at how they looked like butterflies!)

Children took home five beans each to plant
(like Jack in the version we read).
After just 10 days, look at Piper's beans!
We think it miight be Piper and the Beanstalk!

Then we turned our attention to bulbs.
Bulbs look quite different than seeds,
but would they hold the same tresaure?

Although very different than seeds in some ways,
bulbs are very much the same, each holding
the beginning of a life cycle inside, ready,
when the time is right, to "spring into life."

To help us further understand bulbs we read excerpts from
Millicent Selsam's book Bulbs, Corms, and Such.
This book is highly readable for second graders
and gives great information.
(Note: This book is out-of-print, but a wonderful resource
for exploring bulbs - check your local library.)
We compared and contrasted seeds and bulbs as a class.
Here is a Venn diagram we created together using Inspiration.

As our investigation began to wind down, I shared
Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snowdrop
with the children - a perfect connection with our literacy theme.

Finally, we carefully studied the parts of a bulb
and drew scientific diagrams of them in our Artists' Notebooks.
Here are just two examples of the many
wonderful diagrams the children drew.

Nick's work above, Teresa's below.

It's so exciting when children make connections!
While reading the book Proirie School by Avi,
Teresa discovered the following and couldn't wait to share it:
"It's a dogtooth violet. The only lily in this area.
It grows from a bulb. The Indians boil the bulb and eat it for food."
And the learning continues!

You may find these resources useful in exploring flowers, their parts, plant parts, and bulbs.

This project addressed many of our state's standards, including the following Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework learning standards:

Life Science (Biology)
  • Recognize that animals (including humans) and plants are living things that grow, reproduce, and need food, air, and water.
  • Recognize that plants and animals have life cycles, and that life cycles vary for different living things.
  • Recognize changes in appearance that animals and plants go through as the seasons change.
  • Identify the structures in plants (leaves, roots, flowers, stem, bark, wood) that are responsible for food production, support, water transport, reproduction, growth, and protection.
  • Recognize plant behaviors, such as the way seedlings’ stems grow toward light and their roots grow downward in response to gravity.
  • Recognize that many plants and animals can survive harsh environments because of seasonal behaviors e.g. in winter, some trees shed leaves, some animals hibernate, and other animals migrate.

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