Welcome to my Spring Series called “Bringing Spring into your Homeschool”. Today’s post is by yours truly and an experiment my son and I started with hyacinth bulbs. Make sure to check out other posts in this series and guest author bios by clicking on “Bringing Spring into your Homeschool” under Blog in the menu.
Learning About Bulbs – An Introduction and Experiment
Written by Amber Marie | April 18, 2018
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To add a twist to this learning experience, I chose to teach my son about bulbs rather than using the traditional seed growing science lesson. Partly because most of the flowers we planted in the front garden grow from bulbs (daffodils, hyacinths, etc). I spent time researching the best way to teach this concept and pulled a few resources and supplies together to begin our journey through this science lesson.
I wanted to start teaching from the beginning of a bulb’s life cycle and continue through its progression toward bloom. However, with the late timing of throwing this lesson together, I was left with limited options for bulbs that were not already sprouting (Duh Amber…its already spring). Bulbs must be planted in the fall to go through a chilling period during winter so they can grow and bloom in the spring. After the chill is over the bulbs begin to sprout and over a few weeks begin blooming.
If I had planned a few months in advance for this sort of lesson, I would have prechilled some bulbs myself in the refrigerator (see more on how to do this here), but instead I went to Home Depot and found bulbs that had not sprouted very much yet. With my bulbs, the roots had already spread out so I had to be gentle when pulling them out of the dirt and cleaning them. Ideally the bulbs would have no roots and they would grow out over the duration of the experiment, but again I had to go with what was available. If you’d like to see what this experiment would look like if starting from a pre-chilled bulb, check out Chelsey’s post over at Buggy and Buddy.
The Intro Lesson
Now that I had all the supplies needed, I wanted to start with a lesson on bulb anatomy. I realize my son is five and a lot of the terms may be over his head, but I didn’t see any problem with a small introduction. I began by reading this book to give a little introduction to the inside of a bulb and how it grows. Then we moved onto dissecting one of the bulbs. This was a nice hands-on activity that gave my son a real life example of a bulb’s insides (so much better than just looking at a page in a book).
I used a sharp knife to slice the bulb from top to bottom. Then I had my son draw what he saw and we compared the pictures from the book to the real bulb. I helped him label the parts then we discussed what the different parts did for the plant. I tried to keep this lesson very short because it was a lot of scientific jargon to throw at a five year old and he was super excited to start assembling our experiment.
After gathering all the materials onto our table, I let my son fill his vase with river rocks until it was about half full. From there we nestled the bulb gently into the river rocks and added a few more pebbles for support. Finally, my son filled the vase with water so only the base of the bulb was covered. DO NOT fill it too much and cover the whole bulb!!! All that water will cause it to rot and your experiment will probably fail.
After preparing our little bulb vase, I asked my son to make some predictions about what he thought may happen over the next few weeks. The book mentioned above shows some nice pictures of bulb growth and its life cycle, so with this recent background knowledge these predictions came easier to him. Finally, I drew a quick outline of the vase and had my son draw the bulb, sprout and roots for this first week (I made sure to make copies of the outline so each week I could have him draw the bulbs progression). I was so proud of his focus when drawing. This concentration is a new development, so I get very excited when he shows interest in art and doing his best work.
My son loved this whole activity and is even more excited to see how these plants grow. Join me in two weeks for an update on our bulbs and for extension lessons regarding this activity. Be sure to share your spring experiments in the comments below. Until next time!