National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
Flower Power (Grades 3-5)
3 - 5
Two 40-minute sessions
Students will observe physical characteristics of flowers and explore principles of pollination.
Activity 1: Flower Dissection
- Cut flowers, 1 per student
- Contact a local florist and ask if they have some old flowers they will be discarding; look for flowers that exhibit easily identifiable parts: lilies, roses, tulips, columbines, irises, petunias, snapdragons, and sunflowers)
- 5-gallon bucket with water to store the cut flowers
- Flower Dissection Tutorial
- The Basic Parts of a Flower handout
- Clear tape
- Flower Power activity sheet, 1 per student
- Parts of a Flower Poster
Activity 2: Origami Flower Model
- 6" x 6" colored origami paper,* 4–5 pieces of each color per student
- Green chenille stems (15 mm x 12"),* 1 per student
- White chenille stems (6 mm x 6"),* 1 per student
- Yellow chenille stems (6 mm x 6"),* 4 per student
- Green bump chenille stems (15 mm x 12"),* 1 per student
- Green tissue paper (3" x 3"),* 1 per student
- Yellow pony beads (6 mm x 9 mm),* 2 per student
- White pony beads (6 mm x 9 mm),* 5 per student
- Glue sticks
- Origami Flower Instructions PowerPoint
*These materials are included in the Origami Parts of a Flower Kit, which is available for purchase from agclassroomstore.com.
Activity 3: The Bee Dance
- 4–5 treat bags (treats selected at your discretion)
- Honey, I’d Love to Dance handout
- Written directions to each hidden treat bag
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- Honey, I'd Love to Dance Handout
- Flower Power Activity Sheet
- The Basic Parts of a Flower Handout
- Origami Flower Instruction PowerPoint
pistil: female parts of a flower, including the stigma (where pollen lands), style (stalk-like part between stigma and ovary), and ovary (at the base, develops into the fruit and contains the seeds)
pollenizer: plant that provides pollen
pollinator: agent that moves pollen resulting in the pollination of flowers
stamen: male parts of a flower, including the anther (produces and contains pollen) and filament (stalk supporting the anther)
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- About one-third of the total human diet is derived directly or indirectly from insect-pollinated plants.
- An estimated 80% of insect crop pollination is accomplished by honey bees.
- While pumpkins and other squash are self-pollinating, they are a bit unique. The flowers on these plants are considered “incomplete” because the flowers are either male or female. The pollen-bearing male flowers contribute the pollen to the female, fruit-bearing flowers.
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Ask the students to think about where fruit comes from. Ask the following questions to stimulate discussion and assess your students' prior knowledge:
- What do you see on a fruit tree in the early spring?
- Do all flowers on a fruit tree become fruit?
- Why is it common to see bee boxes in fruit orchards?
- Why are bees an important agricultural resource?
Activity 1: Flower Dissection
- Collect flowers in advance, and store them in the 5-gallon bucket with water in the bottom. Using the tips from the Flower Dissection Tutorial, dissect a few flowers, place them on card stock or a sheet of paper, and label the parts.
- Discuss the background information with your class. Explain to your students that they are going to examine, dissect, and label the parts of the flower that are associated with pollination and seed formation.
- Read and discuss the Basic Parts of a Flower handout as a class, or have students read the handout individually or in small groups.
- Give each student a copy of the Flower Power activity sheet, clear tape, and a piece of card stock or paper. Have 6–7 pairs of scissors located centrally in the classroom.
- Using the Parts of a Flower Poster as a guide, instruct the students to first label the flower parts on the Flower Power activity sheet.
- Show students the previously dissected flowers. Explain that flower dissection requires precision and a “light touch.” Rough handling of the flower will destroy the parts that need to be labeled. Give each student a flower. Have the students carefully dissect the flower and tape the parts onto their card stock or paper.
- Ask the students to label each flower part. They should use the Flower Power activity sheet as a reference.
- Discuss the following questions:
- Are some flowers easier to dissect than others?
- Were some parts easier to identify than others?
- Did every flower contain pollen? Why or why not?
- How do you think your flower is pollinated?
- Can you predict the size and shape of the seeds that may be produced by the flower based on how the flower looks?
- If your flower were self-pollinated, and its seeds were planted, what would the flowers of its offspring look like? What if it were cross-pollinated?
Activity 2: Origami Flower Model
- Explain to the students that they will be creating an origami flower to model the parts of a flower.
- Provide each student with 4-5 pieces of origami paper. Follow the instructions on the Origami Flower PowerPoint to create the flower petals.
- Each student should add the following parts to their flower:
- The white chenille stem represents the style. Use one yellow pony bead to represent the ovary, and attach it to the bottom of the style.
- The yellow chenille stems represent the filaments. Push the white and yellow chenille stems up through the bottom center hole of the origami flower. Trim the chenille stems to the desired length, making sure the white chenille stem is slightly taller than the yellow chenille stems.
- Create the stigma and anthers by attaching a yellow pony bead to the top of the style and white pony beads to the tops of each filament.
- Use green tissue paper to create the sepal. Poke a small hole into the center of the sepal with the sharp point of a pencil. Glue the sepal around the bottom of the origami flower petals.
- Place the green chenille stem into the bottom hole of the flower. Create leaves around the stem using the green bump chenille stems.
- Ask the students to use their flower models to point out each part of the flower and explain the parts’ functions.
Activity 3: The Bee Dance
This activity needs lots of room. Try it outside!
- Ask students how humans communicate non-verbally (body language, hand signals, facial expressions). Demonstrate a few in a charades-type manner.
- Review the Honey, I’d Love To Dance handout. Discuss both dances and what each movement means.
- Divide the class into teams of 4–5, depending on class size. Have each team choose a scout. This student/bee will find the food source (treat bag) and communicate its whereabouts through bee dances to the team members.
- Give each scout written directions to a different treat bag (that you have hidden), and then send the scouts out to find them. Do not let the other students witness their search.
- When the scouts return, have them communicate the direction and distance of the treat bag to their team members using either the round dance or the waggle dance. No verbal or “human” body language allowed!
- Once all the teams have found their reward, follow up with a class discussion about the ease or difficulty of communicating through dance. Is it difficult to judge distance without a tape measure or other tools? Do they believe honey bees are intelligent creatures?
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- There are many parts of a flower.
- Flowers can be beautiful to look at, but some flowers develop into food that we eat. All fruits develop from the flower of a plant.
- A flower must be pollinated before it will produce a fruit. This can be done by insects such as bees.
- Pollination is important in producing our food. Pollinators, like bees, are one example of a natural resource used in agriculture.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Further explore the world of bees and pollination with these two, half-hour videos from America's Heartland:
Something has been happening that concerns farmers, especially citrus and nut growers, everywhere: there's less "buzz" in the air. Bees are disappearing. While apiarists (bee farmers) try to determine the cause of "disappearing hive syndrome," some are seeing a new business opportunity in taking their bees on the road.
California almond farmers grow 80% of the world’s almond supply and almost 100% of the US almond crop, generating more than 1.5 billion dollars a year in revenue. But to pollinate trees and grow those almonds, you need bees, lots of bees!
Suggested Companion Resources
- Beebuzz (Activity)
- Shape, Form, and Function in the Garden (Activity)
- Wisconsin Fast Plants® (Activity)
- Achoo! Why Pollen Counts (Book)
- Bea's Bees (Book)
- Beekeepers (Book)
- Bees and Wasps (Book)
- Honeybee (Book)
- How Do Apples Grow? (Book)
- How Do Flowers Grow? (Book)
- How Flowers Grow (Book)
- In the Trees, Honey Bees (Book)
- Jack's Garden (Book)
- Pick, Pull, Snap! Where Once a Flower Bloomed (Book)
- Pollen: Darwin's 130 Year Prediction (Book)
- The Bee Book (Book)
- The Life and Times of the Honeybee (Book)
- The Reason for a Flower (Book)
- The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter (Book)
- When the Bees Fly Home (Book)
- Origami Parts of a Flower (Kit)
- Honey Bee Study Prints (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- Parts of a Flower Poster (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- Amazing Time-Lapse: Bees Hatch Before Your Eyes (Multimedia)
- Bees: Tales from the Hive (Multimedia)
- City of Bees: A Children's Guide to Bees DVD (Multimedia)
- How It's Made: Honey (Multimedia)
- Introduction to Pollination video (Multimedia)
- NMSU Field Trip: Honey (Multimedia)
- The Honey Files (Multimedia)
- Wings of Life (Multimedia)
- Edible Gardening: Growing Your Own Vegetables, Fruits, and More (Teacher Reference)
- Pollen Gallery (Website)
- Utah State University Bee Lab (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Agriculture and the Environment
- Recognize the natural resources used in agricultural practices to produce food, feed, clothing, landscaping plants, and fuel (e.g., soil, water, air, plants, animals, and minerals) (T1.3-5.e)
Education Content Standards
3-LS3: Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
3-LS3-2Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment
4-LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
4-LS1-1Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
Common Core Connections
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Language: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.