A medium-term project, raising sunflowers from seed is an absorbing activity for junior-school children. As they’ll have to look after their seedling, youngsters receive an ongoing lesson in responsibility and caring. Additionally, starting the seeds off in repurposed plastic food containers provides an opportunity to discuss sustainability and good stewardship of the earth’s resources. Children can learn about recycling by making plant labels from materials that would otherwise be discarded, or by re-using wooden lolly-sticks or coffee-stirrers to support their seedlings.
You’ll need :
- Suitable container – flowerpot, or recycled food tub with drainage holes punched in the bottom
- Growing medium – for best results, bought potting compost (although soil from the garden will do)
- Packet of sunflower seeds. Seeds taken from pet food also work well
Fill container with growing medium and push the seed about 1cm deep, firming lightly on top. Place on a light windowsill, keeping soil moist. Once the seedling appears, stake it gently for support. The sunflower can be planted outdoors once it’s about 20cm tall; support it with a bamboo cane.
To encourage the children to take care of their plant, set the project up as a race; whose plant will grow the tallest? This introduces an element of fun and motivation – highly effective between siblings.
Growing sunflowers also makes a great Sunday School project. If your church has a garden, why not plant the seedlings there? As the plants are fast-growing, you could transform the exercise into a fundraiser. The children will enjoy being able to raise money for a good cause themselves by asking people to sponsor their plant as it grows.