Investigating and learning about Sunflowers is a great way to teach your children about growth and change. These bright and colourful flowers are easy and quick to grow and provide a huge amount of learning that will last all through the summer into the Autumn.

Getting Started

  1. Show your children what sunflowers look like by looking at photographs, pictures and paintings. You can also buy artificial sunflowers at places like Amazon and Hobbycraft.
  2. Plant your sunflower seeds in March or April. It is a good idea to start them off inside and then once they have started to grow you can move them outside. 

There are lots of different varieties of sunflowers but ‘Russian Giant’ has the potential to grow as tall as 3m which gives children a sense of awe and wonder about a tall plant that towers above them! 

There are so many lovely ideas that you can do with these beautiful flowers but here are some of our favourites: 

Planting and Growing

  • As your children plant their sunflower seeds challenge them to practise their number skills by picking 3 seeds out from a larger group, recognising a group of 3 without counting (subitising), putting 1 seed in each pot (one to one correspondence).
  • Sunflowers grow best in sunny spots so challenge your children to find the sunny spots in your outdoor area and mark these on a map of the outdoor area. Where is it sunny and where is it shady? How do you know? What time of the day is it sunny in different spots? 
  • Make a trap with your children to catch the slugs so they don’t eat the sunflowers. Fill empty yoghurt pots with water and sugar and place them next to the sunflower. Encourage your children to check for slugs every day. 
  • As your sunflowers grow use a variety off standard and non standard measures to compare and record the height of the sunflowers. Provide the children with rulers, tape measures, metre sticks, unified cubes, garden canes. 
  • Invite your children to become  a ‘Bee Monitor’ by checking how may bees visit your sunflowers as they flower and keep a tally.

Exploring Sunflowers

  • Buy some real sunflowers and invite your children to examine them carefully using magnifying glasses. Cut the sunflower in half and encourage children to investigate what the inside looks like.
  • Provide your children with some real sunflowers and tweezers and encourage them to remove the sunflower seeds. You could add numbered pots for children to fill with the correct amount or use ice cube containers to put one seed in each space.
  • Fill a tray with sunflower seeds. Add different sized containers, sieves, ladles, spoons, balances, and encourage your children to explore capacity, weight and quantity.
  • Use the parts of a sunflower in your mud kitchen to create exciting sunflower recipes!
  • Use sunflower seeds to feed the birds. Cover a cardboard tube with lard and roll in sunflower seeds. Hang outside and give the birds a feast! 

Representing Sunflowers

  • Set up a display of sunflowers and challenge your children to represent them in different ways by observational drawing, painting, collage.
  • Provide different tools for your children to create sunflower pictures eg cotton buds, end of a paintbrush, straws to represent the seeds.
  • Use coffee filters and yellow food colouring and water to create the centre of a sunflower and then encourage your children to add other materials for the seeds and petals.
  • Provide your children with a range of textured materials in yellow tones to create a textured sunflower.
  • Learn about the famous artist Van Gogh and study his painting of sunflowers.