Fun Friday activities are quick-and-simple ways to explore nature in your own backyard.
This idea was actually sparked by a fun display I saw when we visited the California Science Center last month. We found this giant sunflower puzzle. The goal is for kids to put the pieces together to see the sunflower “bloom.”
I loved the idea of identifying the various parts of the flower and seeing how they all work together to create beautiful blooms. Which got me thinking it might be fun to take a closer look at the flowers in our own garden.
Our notes from the field
When we planted our first vegetable garden this spring, we also planted four sunflower seeds. It’s taken several months, but the first finally opened up recently. What a treat!
With our backyard field guide in hand, The Big Explorer and I headed outside to check it out. First, we talked about how the sunflower had grown. The Big Explorer pointed out the long stem (which reaches far above his head), the leaves, flower and seeds.
We looked closely at the two sunflowers that haven’t bloomed yet and talked about what would happen next.
Then The Big Explorer sat down and wrote up our findings in our backyard field guide.
When he finished, we decided to take a closer look at each of the flowers in our recently planted flower garden. There were cool things to see when you looked up close, like the rich color in the center of this hibiscus.
The Big Explorer was anxious to touch this succulent, which he says “looks spiny but doesn’t hurt like cactus.”
There were also some very fuzzy-looking celosia “kimono mix” beauties he says weren’t nearly as plush as they appeared.
Besides exploring flowers with our hands and eyes, we had to smell them all, too! The Big Explorer always says they smell wonderful, even though none of them are fragrant!
But our favorite things to look for in and around our flowers are butterflies and bees. We’ve discovered they’re quick and not very cooperative when we want to get a close-up look!
We visit our flowers every day and have now taken our exploring skills out in the field, stopping to look closely at flowers we see wherever our outdoor adventures take us. I’m glad The Big Explorer has learned that there is much to discover if you’re willing to stop and take a look.
Flowers are easy to find, making this nature activity extra fun to try anywhere. For best results:
- Plant your own & watch them grow. Our experience of watching the sunflowers grow from seed into blooms was much more rewarding than I’d ever anticipated.
- Explore with multiple senses. Read about flowers in a book, watch them grow, smell them, touch them, even taste them (provided they’re edible). The more senses involved in the exploring, the more vivid the learning experience.
More ideas for outdoor fun
We still have more than a month of summer vacation left here in Los Angeles, but I’m guessing many of you are already getting ready for school. Make the most of your remaining summer days by heading outside with your kiddos. This weekend:
- Go mud surfing – seriously, doesn’t it just sound fun?!
- Host a garden tour and let the kids show off what’s growing in your backyard
- Enjoy delicious strawberry shortcake outside, with fresh berries of course!
- Try one of these 10 ideas to get outside and play!