April 27, 2020 – The Amazing World of Plants

Spring is a great time to observe plants. In our region most trees and shrubs have leafed out and are flowering or beginning to flower and small herbaceous plants are in various stages of their life cycle from sending their first shoots above the ground to finishing up their flowering stage. It is the perfect time to take notice. What is happening in the world of plants around your home?

This week we are sharing some plant themed activities to support learning from home, give you and your kids some ways to learn away from screens while connecting to your nature neighbors.

The following list includes science activities, crafts, games, and sensory activities for kids ages 2-12. There are links to printable pages, activity directions, and some pre-recorded video lessons and stories.

These are organized by days but do not have to be done in any particular order.

Day 1:

  • Video: What is a plant? Neyssa put together two great educational videos about plants that provide a great introduction to the topic. Check them out on our Youtube Channel.
  • Printables:
  • Plant Walk: take a window walk around your house or venture out into your neighborhood. Focus on the different plants you can see. Can you find any big trees or small trees? Do you see any flowers? What colors do you see? Are there any animals (birds, insects, squirrels, etc.) in or around the plants? What are they doing? Extension: Write or draw about what you notice.
  • Pre-recorded story: The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
  • Plant a bean: Do you have some dried beans in your pantry? Watch this slow motion video of a bean sprouting. Try growing your own:
    • Put a damp paper towel in a jar or a plastic bag.
    • Add the bean.
    • Keep the towel damp.
    • Watch your bean grow.

Day 2:

  • Printable: Plant Parts Coloring page with labels to fill in.
  • Scavenger Hunts: Use these to help guide your walks
  • Duplication Game: for 2+ players
    • Collect 5-12 plant parts (leaves, seeds, fruits, bark pieces, sticks, flowers, etc.) but keep them hidden. To adapt this for younger kids choose only 2 or 3 items. Remember to only collect things that have already fallen on the ground or are in such a large quantity that a missing leaf or flower will not kill the plant.
    • Lay the items on the ground or preferrably on a bandana or towel in a pattern.
    • Cover your items with another bandana or towel so they cannot be seen by other players.
    • Invite others over and lift the top covering to reveal the items you collected. Allow them 30 seconds to observe and memorize the items and the pattern (longer for younger children).
    • After 30 seconds cover the items. Players then go out and find the same type of items, collect them, and arrange them in the same way.
    • Check their collections and see how well they were able to duplicate your collection and pattern. ***This game can easily be played with items around your house rather than natural materials.
  • Fairy Soup – shared by Ventura Wild: Collect natural materials (flower petals, sticks, rocks etc.). Place them in a bowl. Add water and a drop or two of food coloring (optional). Which items float and which ones sink?

Day 3:

  • Videos:
  • Printable: Tree Life cycle Diagram
  • To Be a Tree – Project Learning Tree Activity: make a tree costume from a paper bag to help learn the structure and function of a tree.
  • Meet a Tree: This is a blindfold game that is done with a partner. (Adaptation: Don’t have a tree? Lead your partner to a place in your house or yard, can they figure out where they are?)
    • Find a blindfold (scarves work great).
    • One person is blindfolded, the other partner carefully leads him or her to a tree. Be sure to watch for obstacles and keep the blindfolded partner safe.
    • Once at the tree, the blindfolded partner explores the tree without taking the blindfold off. Feel for distinguishable characteristics like holes, moss, dirt, grass. Smell the tree. Wrap your arms around it to see how big the tree is. What does the bark feel like? Can you reach a branch? Does it feel like you’re in the shade/sun?
    • After a few minutes the seeing partner leads them away, and tries to confuse them a little with some gentle spins.
    • Remove the blindfold and find the tree!
    • Switch.
    • Share how it felt to lead and to be led. Which did you like better? Why? What did you notice about your tree?

Day 4:

  • Printable: Oregon State flower coloring page
  • Fashion a Plant: If you could design your own plant what would it look like? Create your own plant keeping in mind that your plant needs to have a way to collect water and nutrients from the soil (roots), a way to photosynthesize, make its own food (leaves), and a way to make more plants (fruit & seeds). To create your plant try one of the following techniques:
    • Use natural materials collected from your yard or neighborhood and lay them out on the ground to make your plant. If you do this outside with entirely natural materials you can leave your creation where others can enjoy it.
    • Draw, paint, or use other items from your home to create your plant. Be creative!
  • Make a wind catcher:
    • Choose two sticks and an assortment of objects from nature such as small sticks, leaves, seed pods, acorns, cones, etc. (Collect things that have fallen on the ground, not living plants.)
    • Cut various lengths of twine, string, or yarn.
    • Tie the two sticks together to form an X.
    • Tie the nature objects to the sticks.
    • Hang on a tree.
    • Observe the objects as the wind catches them. Do they all behave the same way?

Day 5:

  • Sensory Nature Walks:
    • Touching: feel as many different things as you can while walking, how many different textures do you feel? Caution: always look carefully before touching, make sure there are no sharp, prickly edges or things that might hurt you. If you see prickly edges on plants, touch gently at first, sometimes the prickles can surprise you.
    • Looking: take a color walk, how many different colors do you see? Create some color cards to take with you and try and find things that match. You could even do this around your house. To make color cards simply cut out squares of white paper, color each square a different color, and take them with you on your walk. How many different shades of green can you find?
  • Make a mini forest:
    • Find an area of ground to act as your canvas or create a space in your home.
    • Find leaves, sticks, cones and other things to be your trees. You can even use legos or other toys you have at home. Be creative!
    • Plant the ‘trees’ and other items to make your forest.
    • Add other features to your forest like paths, ponds or creeks, animals, and other plants.
    • Hide something tiny among the trees, then draw a map and mark the treasure on it. Challenge your friends and family to find it!
  • Story Challenge: Do your kids love writing or drawing? Provide story prompts and challenge them to finish the story with either words or pictures or both.
    • You could also write story ideas on scraps of paper. Have kids choose some at random and incorporate them into their story.
    • Here are some story prompt ideas:
      • A tree has fallen in the woods
      • A seed fell in the garden
      • An insect is looking for the perfect flower to gather nectar
      • An animal collected grass and twigs to build a nest
      • The dandelion growing in the lawn was very lonely
    • Share the stories together.
  • Nature crowns
    • Paper crown:
      • Gather up some colorful leaves, flowers, tree pods, seeds or nuts, and any other natural items from your yard or neighborhood.
      • Take a paper bag or construction paper and cut a strip long enough to fit around your child’s head. Tape pieces of paper together if needed to make them longer.
      • Have your child tape the items they collected to their paper crown.
    • Daisy Chains: Learn how to weave flowers together.
  • Pre-recorded story shared by Ventura Wild: The Curious Garden by Peter Brown.