Teaching kids about the finer points of flower anatomy can be tricky to say the least. Flowers are specialised and adapted for reproducing, from attracting pollinators to dispersing seeds flowers are quite busy.
Before you begin their lesson in flower anatomy, find out what the kids already know. Ask questions or create flower-shaped concept maps to assess their current knowledge of flowers. In the centre of the flower, where the sex organs are located, have them write the word ‘flower.’ In the surrounding bubbles, or petals, have the kids write whatever they think of relating to flowers. For example, they attract bees, they smell good, they are colourful, they need water, etc. Once you establish what they know, you can adjust or plan your activities accordingly. Repeat this activity afterward as well to see how much the kids learned, or paid attention.
When teaching kids the parts of a flower, take the time to discuss each part thoroughly and provide hands-on tools that will help make the learning fun. This could take the form of charts that kids can colour and label. Perhaps you could have them dissect a flower as you go over the specific parts, such as a lily. If you have a garden, let the kids go out and choose the flower they want to dissect. Discuss the stem, the leaves, the stamen, and so forth in an easy-to-understand way.
Explain how each part serves a specific purpose. Give examples and fun facts. For instance, the stamen is the male organ responsible for producing pollen. Some stamens are long in order to increase the flower’s exposure to pollinators. Ask questions like what are pollinators and why do many flowers need them?
Regardless of size, shape, or colour, all flowers have the same basic parts, in some form or another, in order to perform the function of reproduction. Flowers have everything they need to lure pollinators and produce seeds. For instance, the centre of a flower contains its sex organs, which may be male (stamen), female (carpel), or both. The stamen consists of an anther, which produces pollen, and a filament, which connects the anther to the rest of the flower. The carpel is the seed-bearing part of the flower and contains the stigma, which collects pollen, and a style, which connects the stigma to the sex organ, or ovary.
Surrounding the flower are petals, which both protect the flower and attract pollinators. Sepals are green flaps that protect the flower buds and fall to the ground once the flower opens. The stem is the part of the plant that supports the buds, leaves, and flowers. The leaves produce food for the flower. They collect light to make food and their leaf veins are responsible for transporting both food and water throughout the flower.
Although all flowers share the same basic parts, they may vary from plant to plant according to their plant groups or families. For instance, some flowers, like lilies, are called monocots. They produce both male and female organs in separate flowers and their petals are usually found in multiples of three. Dicots, like apples, have either male or female parts and petals are in multiples of four or five.
Colourful Flower Activity
Give the kids some coffee filters (one per child) and have them put their name on the back. Let the kids colour the coffee filters with washable markers and mist them with a spray bottle afterward. The colours will mix together to create interesting colour patterns. Allow these to dry.
Repeat the same process using muffin or cupcake liners. As these are drying, give the kids some coloured pipe cleaners, preferably orange or yellow, for the flower’s stamen. Each child should get one. Help the kids cut them into pieces, slightly bending one end to make an L-shape.
Next, pass out some green construction paper and let the kids cut out a strip to use as the flower’s stem. Cut out some leaves as well and have the kids glue them to the stem. By now, the filters and liners should be dry. Have everyone locate his or hers and then attach the stem to the back of the coffee filter with glue. Place and glue the muffin liner in the front centre of the coffee filter. Add glue to the small end of the L-shaped pip cleaner and stick this into the muffin cup so that the longest part faces out. Glue the flower to a sheet of paper and let the kids label the parts of their flowers.
Fun Flower Facts
Did you know that the world’s smallest known flower is from the genus Wolffia? The entire plant, including its flower, is less than a millimetre long. In fact, a dozen could fit on the head of a pin!