two yellow lillies

Dissection of a Flower

Hands-on activity gives students who are blind or visually impaired the opportunity to tactually experience the basic structure of a flower.

This activity gives students an opportunity to experience tactually and visually (for low vision students) the basic structure of a flower.  I have chosen a large flower with clearly differentiated male a female parts for clarity. 

I recommend covering plant reproduction in angiosperms including pollination and the formation of seeds on the day prior to this lab. Use the text and an appropriate model to introduce the students to the plant structures . has a nice flower model. 

Caution:  Find out about any allergies that students have prior to this activity.

Related Vocabulary:



  1. Purchase a large white lily for each group of 2 students.  White provides better contrast for most students.  I recommend calling ahead to the flower shop as some shops remove some or all of the reproductive parts.  Ask them to hold flowers for you and NOT to remove the reproductive parts.
  2. Place one flower on a tray at each lab station with a dull plastic knife.


I. Review 

1. Have students look at the raised line or picture of the flower while you discuss pollination and seed formation.

(This description is probably too advanced for younger elementary students and may be simplified if necessary.)

II. Dissection

  1. Direct the students attention to the petals.  Explain that the sepals of some flowers are green and easiy differentiated  from the petals but that this is not the case for lilies.  Tell students that the sepals are the outermost layer of tissue the protec the flower bud before it is open
  2. Have students remove a petal each and observe it.  Does it have color?  Does it smell?  What other observations can they make.  Why does it benefit the plant for the petals to be colorful and to smell good? (It attracts pollinators.)   
  3. Have students find the stamen.  They may be able to do this independently otherwise guide them if necessary. Have students feel the pollen at the top of the anther and make observations about it?  What does pollen contain? (The male sex cells.)  
  4. Students will know identify the female part of the flower (pistil).  Again, guide students only if necessary and allow them to take time to look for it independently.  Have students feel the top of the pistil.  Ask if it is sticky. Why do they think the top of the pistil would need to be sticky.  The pollen will stick to the top of the pistil and travel down the pollen tube to unit with the ovules.   Follow down from the top with your finger until you reach the rounded base (ovary). Students will break open the ovary with the plastic knife.  What would they expect in this part of the flower.  developing seeds

III.  Discussion


NGSS Standards:

1st Grade: Structure, Function and Information Processing

LS1.A: Structure and Function     
All organisms have external parts. Different animals use their body parts in different ways to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, move from place to place, and seek, find, and take in food, water and air. Plants also have different parts (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits) that help them survive and grow. (1-LS1-1)

LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
Adult plants and animals can have young. In many kinds of animals, parents and the offspring themselves engage in behaviors that help the offspring to survive. (1-LS1-2)

Grade 3 – Inheritance and Variation of traits: Life Cycles and Traits

LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
Reproduction is essential to the continued existence of every kind of organism. Plants and animals have unique and diverse life cycles. (3-LS1-1)

Grade 4 – Structure, Function, and Information Processing

LS1.A: Structure and Function
Plants and animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions in growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction. (4-LS1-1)

Middle School – Structure, Function, and Information Processing

LS1.A: Structure and Function
In multicellular organisms, the body is a system of multiple interacting subsystems. These subsystems are groups of cells that work together to form tissues and organs that are specialized for particular body functions. (MS-LS1-3)

Middle School – Growth, Development, and Reproduction of Organisms

LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms

High School – Structure and Function

LS1.A: Structure and Function
Systems of specialized cells within organisms help them perform the essential functions of life. (HS-LS1-1)


Flower Dissection, Teacher Information Desert Discovery Class

By Laura Hospitál

Collage of dissecting a flower with students who are visually impaired

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