Planting flower bulbs in the fall

Planting spring-flowering bulbs connects the seasons of Fall and Spring in the minds of young children as they wait all winter for the bulbs to sprout and to see the flowers blooming in the spring. Following the growth of daffodils or tulips reinforces learning about cycles in nature and noting the sequence of the seasons. Read about planting bulbs on the Clemson University Extension Service webpage.

Reading a book, handling a bulb, and seeing what is inside (no tasting!) prepare children to plant a living thing, a flower bulb. Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert (Harcourt, 2003), shows bulbs in the ground before sprouting and when blooming. I also like cycle-of-the-season’s books, such as, When This Box is Full by Patricia Lillie (Greenwillow Books, c1993), What Comes in Spring by Barbara Horton (Random House, c1992), Spring: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur (Clarion Books, c1999), and Be Blest, a celebration of the seasons by Mary Beth Owens (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 1999).

Here’s a song the class can act out while waiting for a turn to plant, (based on, and to the tune of a traditional song,“Jack in the Box” or make up your own):

Spring flowering bulb, (children curl face down on floor/ground, hiding face)
So safe in the ground,
Way down inside, your little dirt mound,
(hands curve over head)
Spring flowering bulb so quiet and still,
Won’t you sprout up?
(heads up, stretch arms up high)
Of course I will! (jump up!)

I usually explain the word “mound”, and sometimes the word “sprout” before repeating the song.

There are seasonal bulbs that grow and bloom in regions that never experience freezing temperatures, such as the “Spider” lily (Hymenocallis sp.) Tropical Giant. Learn about other tropical bulbs in the

Amaryllidaceae or the Amaryllis family from the Pacific Bulb Society.

Planting the bulbs is a good investment because many species return, year after year, and can be appreciated in many ways. The sweet-sharp-green smell of daffodils takes me back to my childhood.


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