Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sunflower Life Cycle and Plant Parts and a Freebie!

Do you study life cycles? I do. I drew up some super cute clipart using my new favorite art app called "Art Set." It lets you draw much like painting. It even allows you to see the layered strokes and blend them together with a little virtual sponge. If you want to create your own worksheets or posters I'm offering this clipart set for sale. I also used these colorful images in my latest project - making a little Sunflower Life Cycle and Plant Parts Unit. I've created labeling activities, cut and glue worksheets and more! I'd love you to stop by my store and grab a set if that's something you teach. The way I teach my unit is very ELL friendly. I'll try to explain what I do.

First: I use GLAD (Guided Lanugage Acquisition Design) strategies which mean I use visual aides, drawings, explicit vocabulary teaching and lots of repetition and practice to front-load my students.

(prep work) I will enlarge an image of the stages of the sunflower life cycle on a large piece of butcher paper - something approx 3 feet by 4 feet. Then I project the image of the life cycle so it fills up the whole paper. Then using a pencil, I will lightly trace the images so they barely appear to the naked eye. 
(prep work) Do a google search to find and print real images of real sunflowers going through the growth cycle. Print them and laminate for durability. Also prep some rings of tape (roll painter's or masking tape inside out so it's a sticky ring).

Next, when your class is ready and it's time to teach - trace the pencil outline of the sunflower life cycle using a black marker. As you trace it, students are really engaged to find out what you're drawing. Speak to them about what you're drawing. This is an ELL strategy called modeled talk. Their brains are imprinting the drawing that you're making and it becomes more ingrained in their memories if you do it in front of them instead of having it all pre-drawn. Then as you do each stage (for example the germination stage) - you can hold up the real picture of a seed germinating. Then using a tape, stick the real picture next to or near/above the marked sketch of the same part of the life cycle. With marker make sure to label what you drew. Then add a paper label too. 

Once you finish this process for the whole poster it will probably be time to move on to something else, but the next day you can pull off all of the real pictures and labels. Pass pictures and labels out to your students (not everybody gets one this time). Then as you review the poster, have students come up and stick their pictures up on the part of the poster that you are talking about. This will increase their listening and provide opportunities for active engagement. 

Now, are you worried about taking that time to trace your poster? You will have to have your back turned to your students for a while. Well, solve that problem by using "scouts." Pick 2 students to be your scouts. They sit in chairs on the left and right of your group. They are in charge of periodically scanning the class to catch kids having great behavior (looking at you, turning and talking about their learning, and participating). When your class knows they can earn "Super Scientist" awards (little pictures copied on colorful paper) from a scout, the will work harder at listening. Now you have a little plan to assist you while you need to concentrate on drawing and labeling your chart in front of your kids. 

I hope this helps. It's just one little lesson on how I go about teaching science. I make sure to teach in little tidbits - stopping every 5 minutes or so to let children turn to a partner and process their new learning.


  1. We're doing plants next week and I'm using this idea! Love it! I've never seen this strategy before! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks Kerri. I'm trained in GLAD so it's drilled into me to teach this way:
    Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad I could help!


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