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Flowers and Weeds

by Janet McLeman

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To use flowers and weeds to help us think about living and working together.

Preparation and materials

  • You may not be able to find real flowers at this time of year, but perhaps ask one class to paint pictures of the various plants in advance, or use pictures from a book, perhaps on an OHP. You could also bring in a pot plant or two to demonstrate point 2.
  • Flowers used as examples here (which can easily be adapted to what you have available):
    Several flowers of the same variety - something like French marigolds where there are slight variations between each flower
    Several 'weeds' - e.g. goosegrass, dandelion, creeping buttercup, bishopweed, bindweed (again the exact variety does not matter, you can adapt according to what is available).


  1. Tell the children how much you enjoy gardening (if you do! If not, think of someone who does!). Like coming to school, it is really enjoyable and there are lots of things in the garden that remind you of school. And our school is a bit like a garden.
  2. Show the children the French marigolds: say that they remind you of children in a school, all bright and cheerful; all in the same uniform, they all seem very similar, but when you look carefully each one has its own individuality and is unique.
  3. Some plants have less pleasant characteristics:

    Dandelions look very bright and cheerful too, but they have very long roots and so are difficult to get rid of, and they spread their seeds everywhere; they are like people who lead others into bad habits, which become hard to break. We don't want those in the garden, or school.

    Goosegrass has sticky seeds which stick to animals and people and can't be got rid of easily. Sometimes people throw the seeds about as a joke, but it is not really funny; they are like people who annoy others, spoil games, etc. We don't want those.

    Bindweed grows round other plants, and chokes them and stops them from growing. We don’t want that to happen, just as in school we don't want people who try to be in charge all the time, e.g. in games, and boss others around.

    Creeping buttercup spreads everywhere and is difficult to get rid of; it seems attractive at first but soon becomes a pest. It is like the stories people sometimes spread about others, or gossip. So we don't want buttercups.

    Bishopweed spreads really quickly and chokes the good things in the garden - like people who are thoughtless and spoil things for everyone in school.

  4. What we really want is the sunflower; it is bright and cheerful and strong, and also helpful because the birds can eat the seeds.

    Let's try to have a school full of sunflowers, bright, cheerful people who help each other.

  5. If appropriate, perhaps the children could be given sunflower seeds or bulbs to grow to remind them of the message.

Time for reflection

Flowers, weeds and soil to grow,
Sun and rain and wind,
Icy blasts and drifts of snow,
It's a wonder that anything grows,
It's amazing - but things do grow.

Grumpy moods on rainy days,
Gossips, rumours and all,
The things we hear and the things they say,
It's a wonder that anyone grows up,
It's amazing - but people do grow up.

So a school grows from its people, its seeds,
And what do they become?
Sunflowers bright or choking weeds?
It's a choice for everyone,
Its your choice, everyone.

Dear God,
Thank you for the wonderful variety of nature:
so many plants and flowers,
so much colour and change and growth.
Thank you for the wonderful variety of people:
so many characters and ways of living,
so much colour and change and growth.
Thank you.


‘Think of a world without any flowers’ (Come and Praise, 17)

Publication date: November 2004   (Vol.6 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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