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Science Lab: Dissecting Flowers

There is such an unexpected delight to dissecting flowers. Observing the inside of a flower can be an eye-opening experience for anyone, from preschoolers to adults. Isn’t that what we all want? To be pleasantly surprised by a new discovery, to experience the awe and sense of wonder for all the universe has to offer? To feel that there is something bigger and greater than ourselves at work in the world?

By taking the time to slow down and dig a bit deeper, you can discover a whole new world—the inner workings of a flower.

So go ahead, and give it a try!

Here is some helpful vocabulary to use as you dive into this exploration:

  • Petal: outer sections of the flower
  • Stem: main stalk of the plant
  • Pistil: part of the flower that produces seeds
  • Stigma: sticky part at the top of the pistil that catches the pollen
  • Style: long part of the pistil between the stigma and the ovary
  • Stamen: part of the flower that produces pollen
  • Filament: part of the stamen that supports the anther
  • Anther:  part at the top of the stamen that produces the pollen
  • Ovary: large part of the pistil that produces the ovules
  • Ovules: when the ovules are fertilized by pollen, they become the seeds
  • Spathe: thin sheath that protects the flower buds

Here is what you’ll need for the lab:

  • A Flower of Your Choice
  • Child Safe Cutting Tool (knife or scissors)
  • Cutting Board
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Tweezer

These are our favorite books to pair with the lab:

  • The Reason for a Flower by Ruth Heller. This is our go-to book for using when we dissect flowers. It has lovely illustrations that explain the parts and functions of all the parts of a flower.
  • Pick, Pull, Snap!: Where Once a Flower Bloomed by Lola M. Schaefer. In this book, the author describes, in very simple terms, the process by which plants flower, create seeds, and bear fruit.
  • Flowers are Calling by Rita Gray. In addition to being beautifully illustrated, this book shows us the marvel of natural cooperation between plants, animals, and insects as they each play their part in the forest’s cycle of life.

Begin with a small collection of flowers, and spark children’s interest by asking them if they want to see what the inside of a flower looks like. Put out a cutting board, a magnifying glass, and child-sized knives and/or scissors and encourage children to begin their scientific exploration. Prompt them to look for similarities and differences among different varieties of flowers. Ask, “Can you see the tiny ovules in each one?”

Afterwards, you can use our favorite plant press to preserve the flowers for further research. Please also make sure to keep all flowers, leaves, stems, petals, etc. out of the mouths of the littlest ones, as they may be toxic.

You can find more of our favorite flower finds, here.

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Playful Learning Field Guides

Grab these handy field guides on your way to park or walk around the block. Add a basket for collecting and a magnifying glass for observing you are set for a memorable outdoor adventure