Teaching about life cycles is usually done in the lower primary grades or when a child is around seven years old. Understanding the concept of life cycles can be difficult for some children, so the best way to teach it is to use it within a context young children will understand and recognize. For many teachers, this means teaching about the life cycle of flowers, although other options include teaching about the life cycle of butterflies and the life cycle of frogs. Still, flowers make an excellent lesson plan focus because young students can plant a seed and observe the process firsthand relatively easily.
1. Take the students outside. Ask them to find a flower (or weed) and sketch a picture of it. Use clipboards or pieces of cardboard for a hard surface on which to draw.
2. Return to the classroom. Ask for volunteers to describe their flowers. Encourage the children to use interesting adjectives as a way to tie in grammar skills.
3. Ask the students to tell you how old they think their flowers are. This will probably cause some giggles. Explain to them that plants “grow up,” just like people do. This is called a life cycle.
4. Hold up a sunflower seed. Ask the students how flowers start. They should be able to tell you that flowers start from a seed. Talk about how seeds are planted in the soil and that they need sun and water to grow. A good story to read aloud at this point is “How A Seed Grows” by Helene J. Jordan.
5. Hold up a sunflower head that has seeds on it. Explain that as seeds grow into flowers, they make their own seeds. Before the flower dies, the seeds are dispersed (they either drop from the flower, the wind blows them into the air or animals eat them and poop them out…use this last one at your own discretion). Some of the seeds find their way into the soil, where they begin to grow into a new flower. This is the life cycle of the flower.