For the past month I have been curiously noticing these Chinese Lanterns growing alongside my drive way. I can guess what most flowers look like inside, but these were so mysterious.
I plucked one of these beauties, and discovered a straight tap root that brought the whole plant quickly out of the earth.
I took it inside and got ready to dissect it. Have you ever dissected a flower? Dissection usually brings memories of frogs and owl pellets, but a flower is a fun, easy, and less messy project (or so I thought...). It doesn't require many supplies either.
Find a flower of your choice. A flower straight from the ground works really well because the roots and all the leaves may still be attached. Lay some paper towels out on a flat work surface. Obtain a pair of scissors. Child-size scissors can help increase participation from the kids in your care.
I started with the roots and worked my way from the bottom up. First I used the scissors to cut off the root section of the stem. There were a bunch of smaller root shoots coming out of it, and I cut each of those off, too. Let your child touch the twisty texture of the root shoots, and count the pieces. My flower had eight small shoots and one large root.
Next I cut off each of the bunches of leaves (there were eight), and each individual leaf (there were thirty four). Take time to notice the shape of the leaf, the feel, and the difference between the front and back.
One of my leaves has a hole in it and it's brown there. Can your child problem solve to figure out what happened there?
Cut the leaves off the stem carefully because you may find some teeny tiny new baby leaves like I did. Target math skills by arranging the leaves in order from smallest to largest, and largest to smallest.
Now it's time to dissect the blossom. I've been anticipating this part so much! I start my scissors at the tip of the flower and slice straight up to where the stem meets the top. I pull it open, and . . .
Two little, squirmy, mili-peedy bugs scurry out!! That is so not what I was expecting! I instinctively slam the handle of the scissors on to them; I was so startled. I took another peek inside the blossom, and there were several more bugs inside! I had no idea this lantern would be a home for insects.
I thought carefully about whether or not to cut open the whole blossom like I had originally planned. I decided I could see inside well enough, there was nothing else in there, and I didn't want to loose five more squirmies into my kitchen.
I move from the blossom onto the stem. Cut across it to see the inside. It is strong, green, and moist. The water inside is what keeps the stem straight.
The flower dissection is finished. Help develop understanding and comprehension with a brace map, which demonstrates the concept of a whole (on the left) and all of its parts (on the right). A flower is not a whole flower without all of its parts because each part is necessary to create a whole flower. You can make this map with pictures, actual flower parts, or you can cut look-alike flower pieces from construction paper and make your own that way.
To extend your conversation, discuss what else the flower needs to grow and where they grow. Try growing your own flowers in your home or garden, and enjoy watching as each part grows.