Sunflowers & Math

Sunflowers were given to us recently. This worked out perfectly because the children have been learning about the parts of a plant through our current seed exploration.  The sunflowers started a conversation that brought us to math and counting.




As the children sat around the table they began describing details about a sunflower and what they knew:

“They have seeds inside it.”

“I ate them before!”

“There is honey in the black hole.”

“The sun grows sunflowers.”

“I see brown and yellow.”

“The stem feels soft.”



The materials provided for this provocation were sunflowers, white paper, black sharpies and oil pastels.




The children were asked to estimate how many petals they thought the sunflower had on it. This became a very interesting conversation because the children started off with a very small number, 6! The teacher let the children count and see that there were more than 6.


Working together the children began saying numbers that were greater than the previous number. They also began counting by 10s at one point. The numbers said were: 6,10,14,26,36,46,96,106,1000,1041,1091,1092, and lastly they stopped at 1093.  With the help of each other, their teachers and a number chart the children practiced writing all these numbers in the order they were said.



Usually the children focus on their observational drawings, but instead they taught each other identifying numbers, counting, and numbers greater than one another.


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That is the beauty of the Reggio Emilia approach, that the teachers and children work together to expand the children’s wonder and knowledge. Children are self-learners, critical thinkers and not only do they teach themselves, they teach their friends and even their teachers!

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“Posting a learning target before a lesson is like announcing what a gift is before it’s opened. Post a question. Bring curiosity and thinking back to the classroom.” -Credited to

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