The Flower

Story of the function of the flower


Material Description:

No material is shown here



Give an impressionistic story. Say, ‘When the flowers are out on the plant it is a very special time, it is a time of festivity, like people at a Christmas Market, calling out to those passing by, ‘Come, come, I have something lovely for you to eat’  Despite all of our technology, flowers are more eloquent, with their perfume and beautiful flowers,  Some call out with pink petals, some with yellow, some purple, some white, some blue.  The flowers call to the insects for miles and miles around.  The call is so strong the insects cannot resist it.  The flowers seems to say, ‘Come along here, I have the most delicious sweet drink for you’.  This drink is really nectar, while drinking it the insects get a dusting of powder.  It is as if the flower is saying, ‘Not only will I give you a sweet drink, but I will also give you a beautiful coat of  yellow powder’, this powder is really pollen.  off goes the insect with this dusting of powder to another flower, for another treat, when the insect visits the other flower and its pistil is ripe, it will be sticky and some of the pollen will stick to the pistil.  This is how plants make sure that the pollen goes from one flower to another, it goes on and on and on, all the time, when the flowers are out on the plant.’


Introduce the function of the flower



This is a simple story, with an emphasis on the pistil and the pollen


When to give the lesson:

Often after the presentation of the leaf


After the lesson:

The parts are a separate presentation which can come immediately after the story.




Parts of the flower in relation to the function



Material Description:

Whole wild flower, e.g. St John’s Wort, black paper, strips of paper and a pencil

(implements to cut the flower can be brought but probably won’t be used, you might use one to point to parts of the stamens etc) A variety of flowers for the children to work with later.



Say, ‘We have been talking about the flower, would you like to have a look at some of the parts of a flower?  Remember that we talked about the flower calling out to the insects, the part that does the advertising.  This whole part is called the Corolla from the Latin ‘coronula’ for ‘little crown’ (indicating the whole flower).


Remove the petals


Do you remember the powder we talked about, this is where you find that powder on the stamens.  The part where the powder is kept is called the anther, the filament is the thread-like part of the stamen.



Remove the stamens and spread them out on the black paper


Do you remember this part here, it is called the pistil? (indicate the pistil)


Remove the pistil


It also has parts, the stigma, the style and the ovary


Indicate the parts, giving their Latin terms stigma threads on top, style (stylus ‘pillar’) and ovary (ovum ‘egg’)


Lastly we have the calyx, the calyx is made up of sepals, it protects the flower before it opens


Remove the sepals


Ask the children to remind you of the terms and the number of them, their colour to help focus their attention and recall the story of plants, ask them for any descriptions. Indicate an interest in spelling as you write the slips.  Write the name of the plant on a title slip.


Take apart a second flower so that children see the variety


Ask the children to describe the parts this time, what is the part that does the advertising?  Which bit is this?  What is it for?



Review work on the Needs of the Plant and the work done in Casa, give vocabulary, link form and function and broaden work in Botany begun with the leaf.



Depending on the children’s previous work in Casa stress either the parts (pistil) or the parts of parts (anther, pollen, stigma, style, ovary).  If all the names are new do not do them all, discuss the parts that relate to the function.

Show a variety of flowers and let them follow up with others to show the variety between them and generalise the terms, this is what makes the work interesting.

The dissection of the flower happens during the discussion

If the children need help encourage them to use the Nomenclature material



After the lesson:

The children can dissect other flowers, press them and present them on paper.  If they wish to encourage them to use several flowers so that they see the variety.



Follow up work:

Over time the children may notice that for dicotyledons, floral parts are in fours and fives are common and there have reticulate venation, later they will discover these plants have a tap root and this information is given when they work with seeds.  Monocotyledons have different numbers.


Varieties of parts


Material Description:

Whole wild flower for gamopetalous e.g. petunias, escallonias, primrose and buttercups, and wallflowers, geraniums, roses, St John’s Wort, hydrangeas for polypetalous



As the children make the discoveries give the language, giving the etymology where appropriate



Children may discover that

  • Some flowers have petals which are joined all of the way, or part of the way, these are called gamopetalous (‘gamos’ means Greek for marriage).
  • Some flowers have petals which are not joined, these are called polypetalous (‘poly’ means Greek for many)
  • A gamsepalous calyx is joined (note, these are not always gamopetalous flowers)
  • A polysepalous calyx is separate (note, these are not always polypetalous flowers)
  • Complete flowers are flowers with all four parts – corolla, pistils, stamens, calyx  e.g. roses, buttercups, nasturtiums
  • Incomplete flowers missing one of the above, they are often flowers of trees, e.g. oaks and hazels
  • Perfect flowers (sexual parts) would have pistils and stamens e.g. St John’s Wort, the rose – all complete flowers – are perfect but not all prefect ones are complete
  • Imperfect flowers (sexual parts) have only a pistil or a stamen, e.g. flowers on trees e.g. holly, bergonia – imperfect flowers must be incomplete and vice versa



When to give the lesson:

According to the children’s interest


After the lesson:

Simple classification exercise




Simple Classification Exercise


Material Description:

Pictures and name slips for from the nomenclature material for types of petals.  Large collection of cut flowers.



Part 1

With a group of children,

‘Remember we were talking about the two categories (e.g. gamopetalous and polypetalous)

Do you know what these terms mean’ 


Show a pictures from the Nomenclature Cards and say,


I’d like you to come and take a flower and put it by the cards’


Part 2 (for the older children on a different day)

Do the same but only with the name cards, they can use the Nomenclature material or books to find out.



Repetition and abstraction, just using the symbol or name – fixing some aspect of the plants and opening their minds to further ways to define and classify

An opportunity to explore and analyse using their own knowledge



When to give the lesson:

After the language you are using is known, at any stage.

Flower Arrangement


Material Description:

A varied collection of flowers to explore, with the parts arranged in different ways and chart, wild flower books



Following the children’s interest, including aspects of flowers which will crop up later in Kingdom Vegetalia.

The children notice the different arrangements with the charts


When the flowers with the sepals, petals and the stamens are arranged under the pistil (or ovary the flower is said to be hypogynous(Greek which means ‘under’ and ‘female’)

Chart O


Hypogynous, examples include buttercups, poppies, wallflowers

When the parts are arranged around the ovary, like a cup the flower is said to be perigynous (peri from the Greek for ‘around’)


Perigynnous examples include the rose


When the parts are arranged above the ovary, the flower is said to be epigynous (epi from the Greek for ‘above’)


Epigynnous examples include the apple flower, cow parsley




The chart is a key which the child can use to examine and classify any flower.


After the lesson:

If the children would like to draw encourage them to do so from real flowers.


Follow up work:

Work with Kingdom Vegetalia.

Specialisation in Flowers to Ensure Pollination


Material Description:

Local flowers to show during the story, nature books for follow up work




Some insects have sacs to carry the pollen, 

Bees have proboscis, which they extend to collect nectar

Some flowers invite everyone to visit them by putting out signs, as if to say, ‘This way to the restaurant, show flower with marking on petals


Show, tiger lilies, fox gloves – runway


Others are very particular about who will get their nectar, they keep it down in the spur, and they have little hairs to stop flies getting in 


Show a nasturtiums


Some flowers like the snap dragon have a little platform, they invite the heavy insects to land on the coloured part and they press sown and it opens up.


Show and demonstrate with a snap dragon


Some plants like the fig wort look like rotten meat, they attract wasps, who like rotten meat think it is delicious.


Some plants like gorse keep their flowers closed, the bee pushes it’s way in, then, after the bee has taken the nectar it busts open, showering the bee with pollen.  Once it has opened it can’t close again, so the other bees know their is no food to get and do not visit.


Flowers like the daisy, marigold and dandelion have so many tiny flowers in the centre, the parts around them are called ‘floral bracts’, they do lots of advertising.


Some flowers like night scented stock attract the bees with their beautiful scent at night.


The bee orchid is visited only by bees (show a picture and ask the children) why do you think this is?


In the tropics tiny birds like the hummingbirds, with their long beaks help in pollination


Show fuschia, explain that in their native home, the Caribbean are pollinated by birds.


The birds visit plants with long, narrow corollas.


In the arctic the arctic rose, which is white has a golden colour around the pistil and keeps it a couple of degrees warmer than the rest of the plant.  The insects come to warm up and this increases pollination.


Int eh temperate zones plants like the willows, oaks and grasses produce no flowers or scent, the insects and birds don’t visit them. They produce huge amounts of pollen on long, feathery stamens and their pollen blows in the wind to distant places



To fill the children with wonder about how cleaver nature is, here the flower.  This is the practical application of cosmic education.



Focus on the wonder of pollination, for 6 – 9 children the impressionist approach is followed, while 10 -12 children are more interested in specialisation and technical language like self pollination and cross pollination.

The children will discover that monocotyledons have petals and stamens in multiples of three, while dicotyledons have petals and stamens in fours or fives. Ferns, mosses and seaweeds have no flowers at all, these are known as cryptogams (Greek for ‘crypto’ meaning hidden and ‘gams’ meaning marriage because humans did not know how they made their seeds).


When to give the lesson:

The work of relationship appeals to the older child, the child must have observed the bee, go to a plant which attracts them, notice the hairy body and discoveries that the children have made through exploring biology


After the lesson:

The children can begin projects on whatever they are interested in

The children can draw and label real flowers



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