This project is a great spring activity to do with preschool, kindergarten or mixed age groups. Students of all elementary grades can benefit from this study. You only need to raise your expectations on how much they can learn and remember and how well they can express what they have learned. They can write their own narrations, for example.
This portion should take a preschool or kindergarten student two weeks to complete.
Mural: Obtain a very large piece of paper or tape several pieces together in order to get a wall-sized mural. Have your student paint the background brown on the lower half for the ground level and blue on the upper half for sky.
Nature Walk: Weather permitting, take a nature walk with your student each day. It is beneficial for you to read the first part of Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study, The Teaching of Nature-Study, if you have no experience in nature study and its goals. For your first nature walk, have your student just spend time outside and allow him to play in the dirt and point out the blue sky to him. Once inside, have him sketch his experience outside with the earth and sky. For all his nature journal entries, he may choose to just sketch or he may want to include some observations with the sketches. If he is able to write these observations himself, he may, but this is also a good opportunity to have him narrate verbally while you write these down for him on the page.
“...the teacher should have in mind clearly the names of the parts which she wishes to teach...When talking with the pupils about flowers let her use these names naturally...-Handbook of Nature Study, page 456
A Field of Flowers: Learn about the parts of flowers while making the blossoms from paper plates and stems, leaves and other parts from colored construction paper.
Prepare for this project by gathering together plain white paper plates, tan and green construction paper and sunflower orange-yellow paint. Your student will paint the paper plate with the yellow paint. Then he can glue a tan circle made from construction paper in the center of the plate and glue strips of green construction paper to form the stem. Lastly, he can glue green leaves onto the stems. You must determine in advance whether you need to cut these parts out for him in advance or whether he should cut them out himself. It all depends of the development of the child and what you are working on with him. It is no less his project if you have to cut the parts out for him and he glues them together.
As you are working with the student, making the flower, casually use the correct terms for the parts of the flower. (See Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study, pages 456-457 for details on how to do this.)
Seed Germination: In advance, purchase some sunflower and some bean seeds. You will also need a plastic cup, some potting soil, a glass jar, paper towels and water.
Have them observe the seeds, perhaps with a magnifying glass. Have him compare and contrast the seeds and sketch his observations in his nature journal, including his narrations, if desired.
Next. have him push sheets of paper towel, one at at time, into the glass jar. Once full, add water to wet the paper towels, making sure to dump out the excess water. This will allow more room for additional paper towels, which you can pack in the middle to soak up any excess water and will make sure that the seeds will stay in place. Now have your student place the seeds in the jar between the wet towels and the glass of the jar. Have him draw this in his science journal. He can view the development of the seed and journal this during the weeks to come.
Have your student plant sunflower seeds in plastic cups of soil. Have your student observe and sketch the plant's development regularly in his science journal. Be sure to include the dates.
Nature Walk: During this week's nature walk, look for some garden flowers in your own yard or neighborhood. You only need to spend 15-20 minutes on this nature walk. Compare and contrast the flowers that you see. Begin to use the correct labels for plant parts that you have learned. Give your student an opportunity to make a journal entry after each nature walk.