adapted from a poem by Nicolette Lennert
Floats on a breeze
Tickles my nose
And makes me sneeze
Some see a wish
Some see a weed
Some see food
Bees love and need
Dandelions provided much inspiration in the spring. Their bright, cheery color and ubiquitous nature made dandelions a perfect subject when we were looking for things that all our students would have access to during our shelter in place order. I think we could have spent a few weeks with dandelions. There are so many interesting things that children can learn from observing, studying, and working with these herbaceous perennials.
Observe dandelion flowers and dandelion plants. See if you can find all of the stages listed in the book. Try drawing and labeling the stages.
Collect dandelion flowers in different stages of development. Try sequencing them from bud to spent seedhead.
“Dissect” the flowers and notice what is the same and what is different in each stage.
Count the number of bracts (the tiny green leaves around the flower base)
Count the number of florets. Each yellow “petal” is actually a tiny flower with reproductive parts.
Measure and write down the heights from the ground to the flower for each of the following types of flowers:
3 buds (tight green bracts-first photo above)
3 open flowers (yellow-center photo above)
3 closed up flowers (closed with yellow petals sticking out-photo 6 above)
3 seed heads (bottom, middle photo)
For older students: Measure the heights in both inches and centimeters. Then, find the average of the heights for each stage of the flowers by adding each of the 3 height measurements for each stage of the flower. Then, dividing that sum by 3. Record the average height for each stage of the flower. You can choose to do the averages for the measurements in inches or centimeters or both! Try making a bar graph with your data.
Why do you think there are different heights at different stages of the dandelion flower?
More dandelion observations…
Look for the largest and smallest dandelion plants. How are the plants different? Why do you think they are different? Which one has more buds and flowers?
Dig up a whole dandelion plant and try to keep as much of the root intact as possible. How long is the root? How would you describe the root?
This is a conversation poem that would be best read in two voices. Perhaps you can find dandelion flowers to represent each of the phases of this poem.
“O dandelion, yellow as gold,
What do you do all day?”
“I just wait here in the tall green grass
Till the children come to play.”
“O dandelion, yellow as gold,
What do you do all night?”
“I wait and wait till the cool dews fall
And my hair grows long and white.”
“And what do you do when your hair is white
And the children come to play?”
“They take me up in their dimpled hands
And blow my hair away.”
- Gather several Dandelions and keep at least 3 inches of stem on each. Longer stems are easier to work with and will improve the integrity of the chain.
- About an inch from the flower head make a small slit in the stem with your fingernail that is large enough for a stem to slip through.
- Slip a stem from the next dandelion into the slit you made with your fingernail.
- It is easiest if you make the slit in the next flower before you slip it through the previous flower’s stem.
- Continue this process until you make the chain as long as you want.
- You can make a crown by slipping the last dandelion stem into the slit on the first dandelion stem in the chain.
- You can weave in other flowers too!
Dandy Lion Collages
The name for the dandelion comes from the French expression dents de lion or “teeth of a lion.” What part of the plant reminds you of a lion’s teeth?
You can use all the parts of the plant to make a creature collage. What parts of the plant could you use for teeth? What parts of plant could you use for fur?
Assemble your Dandy Lion creature. Take a photo or if you like you can glue the parts down on paper.
Dandelion Leaf Rubbings
Gather several different shapes and sizes of leaves. Choose really green leaves that are sticking up and look fresh, not dried out. Place the leaves under a sheet of white on a solid surface with the underside of the leaf towards the paper. Rub the paper with the back of a spoon or a nickel. If you carefully use the edge of the spoon, you may have better results as long as you don’t press so hard you rip the paper. Flip your paper over. The leaves may be stuck to the paper. Peel them off carefully, and look at the print you’ve made. Can you arrange more leaves to make a print in a design or shape of your choosing? Can you make prints of different leaves? We tried violets too and were happy with the results!
This is just a sampling of the many wonderful ways to learn from this under appreciated plant!
Some see a weed, some see a wish.Anonymous