“Sunflowers”

The gardens have a plethora of sunflowers this year.¬†What to do with them? Here’s a few ideas.

Make paintings inspired by Van Gogh.
(These paintings were made by Atkinson students.)

(also see book Camille and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt)

Write poems. Here’s one lesson. Here’s another.

The Sunflowers
by Mary Oliver

Come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines

creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky

sugars of the sun.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy

but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young –
the important weather,

the wandering crows.
Don’t be afraid
to ask them questions!
Their bright faces,

which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds –
each one a new life!

hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come

and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.

Do a patterns study.

Examine sunflower seeds with a hand lens.
Draw what you see. Are all the seeds the same? How do they differ? What patterns do you notice in the head of the sunflower? What else looks like this?


Create sunflower faces

Diane J., an Atkinson parent, made these sunflower faces with her son’s class last year.


Diane is happy to share her plant materials with anyone who might be interested in repeating this project. Or you can collect your own. Alternately, take your class on a walk around the school neighborhood to collect materials. The Magic Garden out front of the school is a good gathering spot as well. Diane has many of the orange Chinese lanterns she’s willing to share.

You’ll also need:

  • a couple of hot glue guns (send a message to the OLG group if you are trying to collect a few together.)
  • dried flowers, seed pods, peppers and any other plant material for face features (Diane has 3 boxes of stuff she’s happy to donate – it might not be enough but could get you started.)
  • sunflower heads ( Diane dried hers in a dehydrater but maybe it might be fine not to.)
  • wire to hang the heads

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