Did you know that coffee can be made from the roots of dandelions? I definitely didn’t! We had so much fun learning this and more during our dandelion unit study this week.
We used the Dandelion Mini Unit Study by Stephanie Hathaway Designs as the foundation for our exploration. At only $3, this little bundle is a huge bang for your buck.
Additional supplies we used:
- Dandelion Wildflower card by Fiddlesticks Kids (artist Becca has a huge variety of Spring and Wildflower themed printables in her shop)
- Sandpaper Letter “d”
- Green and Yellow ID cards by Stephanie Hathaway Designs
- Erasable colored pencils
- Washable crayons
- Plenty of wild dandelions
- The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody
- Dandelion Memory — free printable available in this post
- Vintage Dandelion Botany Poster — free printable available in this post
What We Did
Once we made it outside (which is always a riot with my crew), we spread out our materials on a picnic blanket. To be very honest, these lessons are short and sweet for my crazy littles — and I’m learning to be ok with that. They’re only 3 and 2, so I want them to freely move while “studying.”
With that in mind, we took about two seconds to look at the dandelion anatomy, and then set off around the yard to gather dandelions at all stages of their life cycle. The kids loved this! It was a win for combining a gross motor activity (running) with a seek-and-find activity.
After collecting our dandelions, we regrouped at the picnic blanket. My kids matched the flowers they had found with the flashcards showing the various stages of the flower’s life. We then put them into their proper lifecycle sequence.
We learned that dandelion flowers are actually composed of many teeny, tiny florets that make up the recognizable yellow flower head. Who knew??
The kids discussed the colors of the flower, and I helped them sort the colors onto the color identification flashcards.
This was about the attention span limit for my 2yo little guy, so at this point my 3yo daughter and I took a look at the letter “d.” She traced the sandpaper letter, and we practiced the letter sound outloud: “Dah, dah, dandelion!”
We attempted coloring the letter d from the unit study printables, but at this point everyone was done sitting and it became a chase-each-other-around-the-yard-and-blow-dandelion-fluff-into-the-air kind of afternoon… with all structured learning coming to an end, lol.
On subsequent days we have continued our hunt for dandelions in the yard, and I have been informally quizzing the kids on the nomenclature of the dandelion’s basic anatomy. I’m truly impressed. It has been really fun for me to see how well a hands-on, illustrated nature study has really stuck with them.
My daughter complained, “We have no more yellow dandelions now because we picked them all!” Judging by the amount of seeds we have blown into the air, I don’t the lack of flowers will be a problem for long…
We’ve also looked at the article about dandelions in this awesome book, The Complete Medicinal Herbal: A Practical Guide to the Healing Properties of Herbs by Penelope Ody.
I did not originally purchase this book with homeschooling in mind, but I’m discovering it works brilliantly as a botany encyclopedia. The photography is beautiful, as are the page layouts themselves. Oh, and there is plenty of interesting and useful information tucked away here, too. For example, I learned that the name dandelion comes from the Latin for “lion’s tooth” — dens leonis. Apparently the shape of the leaves resembles lion teeth.
To extend this lesson for my very small kids, I put together a Dandelion Memory Game. You can download the free printable here: Dandelion Memory Game. Aren’t they adorable?? Just print two copies for a matching activity or playing Memory. These cards could also be used to sequence a basic life cycle of dandelions.
I also found a super cute vintage illustration of a dandelion plant, which I’m posting here as a free printable poster, too! It’s not as glorious as Stephanie Hathaway’s dandelion anatomy, but it’s quirky and fun — a good compliment. To download, click this link: Dandelion Vintage Botany Poster.
Our dandelion unit study has ended up being far more informative and educational than I anticipated. Originally thinking this would be a good unit for the kids since it highlights one of their current obsessions (picking dandelions), it ultimately taught me to view this little lawn pest with a new appreciation and respect. Also, I’m excited to experiment with roasting my own dandelion roots this fall to try out homemade herbal coffee!
Don’t forget to grab your free copies of the Dandelion Memory game printable and the Dandelion Vintage Botany Poster printable! For more educational freebies, subscribe to my email newsletter to access the Free Member Library.
The best way to follow my homeschooling journey is on Instagram. There’s a cute video of my son chatting about dandelions there!