Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sunflowers Investigation Launch

In early September at the start of school, the first graders began bringing in items from nature to share with the class.  D. brought in a large horseshoe crab shell from his summer trip to the beach.  T. brought in the body parts of a horseshoe crab with its many legs and pinchers, and F. brought in some more bits and pieces of another horseshoe crab shell – as well as two turtle shells and a fossilized whale bone.  D. and his mother shared butterfly eggs and caterpillars with us, which will soon turn into butterflies.

Judging from the excitement that these natural materials brought to our classroom provocations and discussions, I brought in three dried sunflower heads from some of the more massive ones I’d grown in my garden this summer.  One flower grew to a mammoth twelve feet tall.  

The Mammoth 12 Foot Sunflower (far right)
The children felt immediately compelled to investigate the flower heads with their hands and eyes, picking the sunflower seeds out of the heads and trying to crack them.







We'd just started reading The Worst/Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson and there was a passage about a member of the wild Herdman family encouraging a boy to enter a talent show and show off his special talent of cracking walnuts on his forehead...many, many walnuts.  Of course, some of the boys couldn't resist trying to crack some sunflower seeds on their foreheads...just to see if this technique might work. 


All fun aside, it was decided that this was a pretty ineffective method...and just a touch uncomfortable


 L: Who made the seeds?
T:     Mother Earth. 
D:    The plant. 
L:     They just appeared. 
What did they appear from?
L:     Nothing.
T:      Everything comes from the earth...You have to get seeds to grow. There are seeds in this (indicates sunflower seed head), so seeds come from the plant. They don't just appear. 
  
S:        If they’re sunflowers, why aren’t they hot?
Oh so they’re hot, is that why they’re called sunflowers?
L:        No…it’s because they need less sun than other flowers.
R:        Because they have a lot of sun in their bodies.

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