Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunflowers and Other Mayhem

"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows follow behind you." 
~ Maori Proverb

Our study of sunflowers this month has been incredibly fun and rewarding! We learned so much - and honestly, I was just as eager to learn about them as the girls were (maybe more!). They are such a beautiful flower ... and when grouped with other sunflowers, it's hard not to pull the car over while passing by a yellow field and stare.  

Here Ellie is looking through one of many books we checked out from the library. It was a great way to build some background knowledge of this flower, and also help them figure out what they wanted to learn about sunflowers. 
Have you ever read Eve Bunting's book "Sunflower House"? What a beautiful book and oooohhhh, how I love Eve Bunting's books! In this story, a little boy and his father plant a circle of sunflowers in their backyard and as the sunflowers grow and create a circled-tower, the kid and his friends play inside this "sunflower house". This has inspired the girls and I to plant a sunflower house of their own next spring. We'll have to get Hubs on board for this one. : )

Here the girls are drawing a diagram of the sunflower's life cycle after reading Eve Bunting's "Sunflower House". 

The girls and I are amazed at how "smart" and active the sunflower is. :) Did you know the sunflower's bud follows the sun throughout the day? This is called heliotropism ... when during the early stage of a sunflower, its head tracks the sun. Once the sunflower is fully bloomed (late in the summer), it stops this motion. This answers mine and my Dad's question on why they don't always track the sun. So there you go, Papazappa! Only during the sunflower's early stages of growth do their heads follow they sun! 

Click here to watch a short video showing how the sunflower follows the sun throughout the day: Heliotropism

Tissue paper sunflowers made for a fun craft one afternoon! Who knew how difficult it would be to find brown tissue paper?! Apparently nobody finds brown to be a proper gift-wrapping color. We settled for black instead.

Although we weren't able to make it to a sunflower field at a local farm due to our own schedule conflicts, we WERE able to visit a friend's farm who happened to plant sunflowers in her own personal garden. Janice showed us her patch of sunflowers, graciously answered the girls' questions they had written and rehearsed the day before, and even allowed the girls to pick some of the seeds. 

This sunflower head probably has up to 1,000 or more seeds under the yellow buds! I think the pattern of diagonal lines of seeds is pretty amazing. 

You can just rub the yellow buds off to find the sunflower seeds beneath.

Janice, Abbie, Ellie, Ben, and our friend Kacyn standing with a full-grown sunflower stem ... kind of gives perspective on how large these plants can get!

And of course we got to explore the rest of the farm :)  This is Gingersnap - a dairy calf. 

Here Ellie just helped Abbie collect eggs in the chicken house!

And this was an unexpected (and rather handsome!) visitor on our field trip ... but thank goodness he showed up! We mistakenly locked the keys to the van inside :) 

After all our inquiry and learning on sunflowers, I think they've become my personal favorite bloom ... such a vibrant and happy-looking flower! And who knew how practical they are as well ... cooking oil, livestock and bird food, snack food and more. We had a wonderful trip learning more about sunflowers! Touching them, measuring them, even watching the bees pollenate them ... it was all fascinating! Thank you, Janice, for sharing your sunflowers and knowledge with us!

A few other discoveries the girls made this week ... 

Abbie absolutely loves Science experiments! This was called the "Upside Down Trick" where she held a cup full of water upside down and watched the cardboard stick to the mug.

How is that possible, you ask?  Well, ask the scientist! : ) 

Ellie's learning about the letter S and the sun this week. One of the experiments we tried was setting green grapes in direct sunlight for several days to see what happens to them, and then recording what they look like at the end of each day.  By day 5, they looked a LOT different!

Part of Abbie's composition work this week was to brainstorm ideas of writing topics by using postcard images. This postcard is of Lake Sakakawea, which is a 180-mile long lake just north of Beulah. We were able to spend a day this summer boating with our new friends Todd and Michele, which was what Abbie most wanted to tell Grandma about : )  She composed this letter orally while I modeled the format of a personal letter. More letters are being composed ... watch your mailboxes!

Ben's demonstrating his recent passion of stacking and building things ... maybe an engineer at heart?

His recent "developments" include: starting to potty on the toilet (and giggling at himself with this!), screaming when frustrated, talking up a storm, skipping naps on occasion (giving his mother yet another opportunity to practice patience), dumping buckets of bath water on the bathroom carpet, having an opinion, and loving being outside. Have I mentioned lately that he's recently turned 2 ?!?! I just love this little guy! My sweet little man just loves our days together. Abbie and Ellie are truly his BFFs! 

I'll leave you with this last thought ... 

In Abbie's Bible lessons this week, we were challenged by learning more about Jesus in his younger years. In Luke 2:52 we are told that he "became wiser and stronger. He also became more and more pleasing to God and to people." (NIRV) What does it look like in our lives today to be constantly improving or growing intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially? Are any of these areas out of balance? Such an important principle to consider. I've truly treasured these conversations with her, and pray they take root in her life. And mine.

Blessings, from our home to yours. 

1 comment:

  1. I love 2yr olds and laughed at your description of Ben's developments :) Looks like a really fun and productive week!