Tulip Growth and the Parts of the Flower

Kari Johnsrud, Madison Elementary School, Winona, MN
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The purpose of this activity is to observe and record growth of a tulip and to identify its flower parts. Students will observe spring tulip growth in the school garden. They will record tulip growth by creating a bar graph and label flower parts by drawing a tulip flower in their journal. Through observation, story reading and class discussion the students will identify and explain the function of the flower parts.

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Learning Goals

This activity is designed for students to identify the parts of a flower and explain their function. Students will observe, sketch, and label a tulip flower in their journal. Prior to the flower observation, students will observe the changes in the tulip and graph the growth of a tulip plant. By completing this activity, students will understand that a plant goes through a series of changes during its life cycle.
Some key vocabulary includes: petals, sepals, anther, stamen, stigma, pistil and ovary.

Context for Use

This activity was developed for the second grade science unit entitled "Living Things" but could be adapted for any primary grade. A portion of the activity is intended for outdoors in the school garden although potted tulips could be brought into the classroom for observation. The whole class of about twenty students will participate in each approximately half hour lesson. The number of lessons will depend on plant and flower growth. Each student will record their observations of the activities in each season in an ongoing journal entitled "Our Garden through the Seasons of Second Grade".

Prior to this lesson in the fall, the students will participate in a guided discovery lesson learning how to enjoy and care for our school garden. The students will observe color in the garden by matching paint sample cards with the colors found in the garden. They will record their findings in their garden journal.

Prior to this lesson in the winter, the students will listen to a guest speaker talk about feeding winter birds. The students will feed, observe and count the winter birds in our school garden. They will record their observations in their garden journal.

Following this lesson in the summer, the students and their families will be invited to a weeding day in the garden. The beauty of the garden will be enjoyed along with a frozen treat. Students will hopefully record observations from their summer day in the garden in their journal.

Description and Teaching Materials

-Take the class on a spring walk in the school garden as soon as plants have begun to sprout. Discuss changes that have occurred in the garden since the initial fall walk.
-As soon as tulips sprout, have small groups of three to four children chose a tulip and label it with a wooden craft stick containing their names.
-Once a week the groups of students will check on their tulip. The students will use a "clip strip" - a long, thin piece of construction paper 1 x 18 inches, to record growth. The students will place the strip of paper next to the tulip beginning at the base of the tulip and use a scissors to snip the paper (not the tulip) off at height of the tulip. The strip is then dated and glued on a 9 x 18 inch sheet of paper starting at the lower left corner with successive "clip strips" forming a bar graph as the weeks go on. Each group will make their own bar graph for the tulip they are observing.
-Read and discuss "The Reason for a Flower" by Ruth Heller (Scholastic 1983 ISBN 0-590-72416-9) giving special emphasis to the page featuring the parts of a flower. Explain that the purpose of a flower is to make a seed. Point out that the sepals protected the flower bud at one time, the petals attract pollinators such as bees, the anther makes pollen, the filament portion of the stamen gives support, in the pistil the stigma catches pollen, pollen travels the style to the ovary that contains the egg cells and after fertilization a seed develops.
-When the tulips begin to bloom, the students will bring their journals to the garden to sketch and color a tulip flower. Encourage the students to look carefully at the tulip flower and sketch the parts in great detail. In the classroom, help the students label the parts mentioned in the previous step and review their function. A large teacher drawn model on the overhead or white board may be helpful for this part of the lesson.
-Display the bar graphs made by the small groups and discuss what the students learned about tulip growth. Encourage students to share their flower diagrams and discuss how these parts might look on other flowers.

Teaching Notes and Tips

-"Journey North Tulip Garden and Climate Change Study" and "Flower Anatomy Printout – EnchantedLearning.com" are two helpful online resources for this lesson.
-The journal is a five-page student made graduated book. The journal consists of a title page and a page for garden observations in each of the four seasons. Directions for assembling a graduated book can be found at "Make Your Own Book –library.thinkquest.org".
-The tulip was chosen for observation because it grows quickly and blooms during the school year. The parts of a flower are very easily identified on a tulip. Most tulips, however, are grown from bulbs not seeds produced by flowers. More in depth discussion of plant reproduction could follow if a student points this out.
-Our school garden is a recent addition to the school grounds. In the past, the students have cared for the garden and enjoyed its beauty. This activity gives the second graders the opportunity to make more formal observations of the garden in all four seasons and to record the growth of a tulip and identify its flower parts using scientific terms.


Students will demonstrate they have achieved the learning goals of this activity by completing a growth graph in a small group, accurately drawing and labeling the parts of the tulip in individual journals, and orally describing the function of each part.


Minnesota Academic Science Standard Observable characteristics of living things
Minnesota Academic Science Standard Plant changes during life cycle
Minnesota Academic Language Arts Standard II. Writing A. 2 Note taking to record information and observations

References and Resources