Some of the first signs of spring are the colorful blossoms of tulips and daffodils. These early pops of springtime color bring delight to our souls. As the tulips and daffodils bravely poke their leaves up through the soil, send out stems and buds, and then finally bloom, they remind us that winter will not last forever. And while they’re beautiful to admire and look at, they’re also a fun and hands-on way for kids to get outside and learn about nature! Today, Leslie Alvis, an Ohio homeschooling mom of four is going to show you how to dissect some of these beautiful spring flowers and examine them more closely with your children. She’s also got a couple of bonus activities to do with your tulips and daffodils, so be sure to read through the whole post!
Children Learn by Touching
I’ve always loved daffodils and tulips, but watching my kids experience them for the first time is even more special. They’re so amazed by the flowers and how cheery they are, despite the cold weather.
Children learn best by interacting with the natural world around them. Dissecting tulips and daffodils is a great way for kids to learn about the different parts of flowers. Other than common weeds like dandelions, I don’t usually let my kids tear flowers apart! So, this activity felt special to them. It reminded me that the simple beauty of nature can be a great learning experience for a child. Learning doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes it can be as simple as removing the delicate pieces of a flower and learning what those pieces are called.
Picking Daffodils and Tulips
Assuming that you would like a summary of the text: It is important to ask for permission before picking flowers, as the author’s children have learnt the hard way. This is something that is usually picked up during preschool years, as children are often overcome by the beauty of the flower and cannot resist picking it.
Tulips seem to just call to my children. This has always been a big deal because tulips are often a little sparse in our flowerbeds. Yet, at some point in their early years, every one of my children has systematically picked the handful we had. One of my offspring once even picked and dissected the only bud we had, just to see what it looked like inside. This dissection activity satisfies children’s curiosity. It also deepens their understanding and appreciation of daffodils and tulips.
Although it’s great to teach children that they can pick some flowers, it’s important to remind them that they shouldn’t pick all the flowers. I try to remind my children of the saying, “What if everyone did?” If everyone picked every daffodil or tulip they saw, there wouldn’t be any left for us to enjoy in nature.
If you want to pick flowers but don’t have permission, you can usually buy them at a grocery or flower store.
Daffodil and Tulip Dissection With Kids
You can do a simple nature experiment with your kids by dissecting daffodils or tulips! All you need is a couple of flowers and a sheet of paper. You can also use a printable. We enjoyed laying out our pages and labeling them ourselves. If you have a magnifying glass, your kids can examine each part more closely!
We separated the pieces of each flower and arranged them on a piece of paper. You can also cut the flower in half with a sharp knife, but my kids voted for taking it apart by hand so even the little ones could participate.
My oldest daughter copied a chart showing the parts of the flowers, then the younger girls arranged their flower pieces. They all learned details about the flowers from this simple activity. It felt like playing, taking apart the petals and stems and other parts of the blossoms. After dissecting a daffodil, the girls tried a tulip next.
Identifying Parts of a Daffodil or Tulip
Children who are younger may only need to know about the stem, leaves, and petals of daffodils and tulips. older kids, however, may want to know more about the functions of these parts of the flowers. If you want to learn more about the parts of a daffodil, you can visit this page.
- Stem: The stem is the tall, green stalk that carries water and nutrients from the earth up to the flower.
- Leaves: This is where photosynthesis happens—where the plant takes the sun’s energy and turns it into food for the plant!
- Spathe: The papery brown sheath that covered the bud before it opened.
- Ovary: Filled with ovules, or eggs, which later become seeds after the flower has been pollinated by bees or other insects.
- Pistil: This is the center part of the flower, including the style and the stigma at the top.
- Stamen: The six little stalks surrounding the pistil. The stalk part is called the filament and the pollen-covered tip is the anther.
- Petals: This is the most visible and colorful part of the flower.
- Corona: The inside layer of petals on the daffodil, also called the crown or trumpet
Planting Bulbs With Kids
Both daffodils and tulips are bulb plants, which means that they grow from a bulb that is deep in the earth, rather than from a seed. The bulb stores up energy for the plant and becomes dormant over the winter. The best time to plant daffodil and tulip bulbs is in the fall, so they can emerge when the daylight strengthens and the earth thaws at the end of winter. A healthy bulb will multiply over time—if you plant a single daffodil bulb, you should have several within a few years!
To begin, find daffodil or tulip bulbs at home improvement or garden centers during the fall. You can also order them from seed catalogs or see if a friend or neighbor has some to share. Plant the bulbs about twice as deep as the bulb is tall (probably 2-3 inches deep). In the spring, you’ll have daffodils and tulips to enjoy!
Parts of a Flower: A Science Project for Kids
This activity is an opportunity for your child to see the inside of a flower, which may be something they have never had the chance to do. It is similar to our highly popular How Do Leaves Breathe? science experiment in that kids gets to see parts of nature that aren’t normally visible.
You probably remember the song “Reproduction” from the 70s or 80s. It’s one of those songs that gets stuck in your head.
This science project will teach kids that flowers have both male and female parts and explain how reproduction occurs in nature.
- Here’s what you’ll need:
- A fresh cut flower or two – try to find one that has a large open bloom where you can see the “insides” and not just all petals. Tulips and daffodils are great choices.
- A small somewhat sharp paring knife
- You may also want a Magnifying Glass (if you don’t have one, I highly recommend getting one to keep in the house!)
- A cutting board
- Paper towels
- And depending on how messy the kids like to get, be sure to cover their shirts and keep a wet rag close by as the pollen on the flower can leave marks on clothes.
If your child suffers from seasonal allergies, they may want to wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling pollen.
Have your kids identify the parts of the flower. You can find plenty of fill-in-the-blank worksheet online.
This will help you to understand how the flowers are put together. We want to cut open the flower so we can understand how it is put together.
To start, find the bloom on the flower. With your paring knife, make a cut into the petals and base. Slowly pull your knife down the flower, cutting through the top layer of the stem.
This is a great opportunity to introduce knife skills to older kids. If you have younger kids, this is a chance for Mom or Dad to get involved.
Using the cut you made as a guide, begin at the top of the flower and gently pull the petals on either side of the cut apart.
The stamen are the male parts of the flower which are the long tubes. The anthers are on the ends of the stamen and that is where you will find the pollen. The pollen looks like yellow powder in our flower.
Near the base of the pistil, you’ll notice a small, knob-like structure. The knob-like structure at the base of the pistil is the flower’s ovary. The ovary is where the flower’s seeds will develop.
The stigma is the part of the pistil that is located at the top and is typically sticky. The pistil is generally taller than the stamens.
The pollen will probably be really appealing to the kids and they’ll want to play with it. Just make sure they wash their hands afterwards so the pollen doesn’t get in their eyes or near their face.
In order for pollen to be transferred from the anthers to the stigma so that pollination can occur, the anthers need to come into contact with the stigma.
The answer is yes, but in order for self-pollination to occur, the male organ (anther) and the female organ (stigma) must mature at the same time You are thinking whether or not the pollen from one flower can be moved to the stigma of the same flower to make the flower self-pollinate. The answer is yes, but in order for self-pollination to occur, the male organ (anther) and the female organ (stigma) must mature at the same time.
The number of male and female blooms a plant produces depends on the plant species. For example, some flower species have both male and female parts in the same bloom. But if you’ve ever seen a pumpkin vine grow, you’ll notice that the vine produces both male and female blooms. So the pollen from the male blooms must come into contact with the female blooms for a pumpkin to begin to grow.
If you look at the base of the stamen and stigma, there is a small bulge. This is the ovary.
To see the egg cells, carefully remove the plants around it. I know, it’s awesome!
The kids can easily see the insects in the photo above and carefully remove them. This is another great reason to have a Magnifying Glass!
Creative Questions to Ask the Kids
Do You Think Bees Know It’s Their ‘Job’ to Pollinate Flowers?
When kids ask me about bees and why they pollinate, I tell them that the bees are actually “rude houseguests.” The bees fly into one flower to eat some nectar and their feet touch the pollen that sits on the anthers, transferring it to the next flower.
Then they go to the next flower and start the process over again without ever wiping their feet!
The gist of it is that bees and other insects unintentionally track pollen on their legs and feet and carry it around to each flower they visit.
Can Humans Pollinate a Flower?
Yes, we can!
We just need to take the pollen from the anther of one flower and put it on the stigma of another flower.
This type of pollination technique is sometimes used by gardens and scientists in order to create new flowers or to observe how flowers will develop in the absence of insects.
My daughter and I were discussing the disappearance of the honeybees, and she suggested that perhaps they could create a robot to pollinate the flowers.
It seems like kids these days have a lot of easy when it comes to technology and coming up with ideas.
We found someone on the internet who is doing what we want to do!
The Harvard School of Engineering is working on a robot insect called the Robobee. The purpose of the Robobee is to help pollinate flowers.
The things you can learn when kids think creatively!