Monique of Green Acorns is with us today with to share some dandelion inspiration on this lovely spring day!
Dandelions – they seem to spring up overnight to decorate our yards with bright sunshiny-yellow polka dots. They’re cheerful, hardy, and tenacious. They provide magical experiences for many children who are amazed at how quickly they turn into puff balls and who find great amusement at blowing their seeds away and watching them head off on an adventure clinging to their tiny parachutes.
Recently while my children were happily playing with the dandelions strewn throughout our own yard, they were thrilled to find some who had put their “hats” on. They excitedly called me over to see. Hats? My oldest daughter went on to tell a brief story about the dandelions not being too sure about how they feel about losing their golden color and turning white so they put hats on to hide the change taking place. They then decide that they look just as beautiful and let their hats fall off to reveal their new look.
I loved this little story!
We went on to do a spontaneous dandelion study and recorded everything in our nature journals. They are really fascinating plants and we all learned something new about them. Did you know that the flower head is made of lots of individual florets, not just petals? The “hats” are the florets that have gone by and closed up. They eventually fall off to reveal the fuzzies. Did you know that those white fuzzies are called pappi (plural form) from the Latin pappus meaning “old man”? Makes sense. And there are so many fun things that you can do with dandelions. It occurred to me later that evening, however, that my daughter had opened the door to another engaging way to explore this flower. By bringing it to life in a different way. By personifying it. What a fun twist to their playful learning experiences.
Here’s what we did:
After making and recording our observations of a dandelion, my children filled out a printable that I created (you can download it here). They could choose to either place a sample of any part the plant in the detail box or draw a picture of it. They then added as many adjectives and descriptive phrases about the detail as they could. I encouraged them to use figurative as well as literal descriptions. Next we read several story books about dandelions. Here are some to check out:
- Dandelion Adventures by Patricia Kite
- The Dandelion’s Tale by Kevin Sheehan
- The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony
- A Dandelion’s Life by John Himmelman
- Stars in the Grass by Mia Posada
After reading each one we pointed out and discussed the various examples of personification and simile. The kids then brainstormed some of their own. You could choose to stop here and have the children write a simple sentence or two using personification (“With all her petals reaching out like the rays of the sun, Miss Dandelion greeted me warmly”) or even a short poem like a haiku. If your child would like to go on to write a short story, help him or her develop some personality traits and identify a dilemma to build on (seeds being nervous about where they’ll land, pointy leaves scaring off other plants, etc). Then let their imaginations bring new life to the dandelion!
Note: This activity is most appropriate for 3rd graders and older. My almost six-year-old was able to make comparisons with prompting and record a simple sentence. She also enjoyed using these flower cut outs for some imaginative play – an engaging way for younger children to personify an object.