An invitation as simple as examining sunflowers allows us opportunities to
- Appreciate the Natural World.
- Support Scientific Exploration.
- Connect with our Food.
Children share their observations and eagerly use tools– tweezers and magnifying glasses– to help them examine more closely. They make comparisons between the sunflower heads and the range of seeds they uncover. They notice various colors, sizes and textures. Some wonder out loud about the yellow part of the flower head and make guesses about it’s purpose and/or how it got yellow. One child muses, “Last time when I was in my back yard I touched them to see if they were pokey. I figured out little white ones are not pokey.” Children take pride in their discoveries and a few identify as scientists while examining the flowers.
I share stories of squirrels and birds devouring these natural feeders in my yard. One child runs into the next room, bringing back three stuffed animal squirrels to share the bounty. The garden scene comes to life. A few children take turns with the squirrels nibbling at the seeds.
We turn ourselves into giant sunflowers. We imagine our feet are roots beneath the ground. Our legs and torso become solid sunflower stocks. We outstretch our arms mirroring huge sunflower leaves, hearkening back to our Sunflower Leaf song. Our faces turn toward the sun. We sway in the wind. As summer turns to fall, our sunflower faces begin to turn toward the ground to drop our seeds, replanting them into the ground.
Some try gnawing the hard shell to uncover the the seed within. Others go for the hulled seeds ready-to-eat. We taste seeds straight from the flower head and compare them to seeds that have been roasted and salted. We try sunflower butter sandwiches and dip apples and celery into sunflower butter. Yum!