Seed Dispersal IS Rocket Science!

NASA has developed a free curriculum for teachers that introduces young children to the basics of flight. The first lesson in the series “Gliders in Flight” features The Dandelion Seed.

SEED_COVERBefore the first airplane, the scientists and engineers who were developing “lighter-than-air” aircraft looked to parachutes and gliders to meet engineering challenges. It is from these early beginnings that aviation and space flight have become what they are today.

A dandelion seed is a perfect example of nature’s parachute and glider.

The full comprehensive NASA unit (preschool through early elementary) investigates gliders in nature; balloons, parachutes and kites; helicopters and airplanes; the impacts of aviation through children’s literature; and science and engineering activities.


LESSON PLAN: Gliders in Flight

This lesson (created by NASA) is based on the book The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony. It includes an engaging demonstration, inquiry and discovery experiments, and writing practice for letters “F” and “G.”

Suggested Grade Level: K-3


  • The book The Dandelion Seed
  • Images of animals and plant seeds that fly/glide
  • Maple seeds (2-3 per student)
  • Paper clips
  • Scissors
  • Crepe paper or streamers
  • Whirly-bird template (provided as free download)


  1. Go to NASA’s Teacher’s Guide: With You When You Fly: Aeronautics Pre-K, available as a pdf download.
  2. Follow the detailed instructions on pages 8-23 to do one or more of the activities.

Taking It Further:

For more adventures with Dandelion Seed read The Dandelion Seed’s Big Dream.


Reading: Literature
  • Key Ideas and Details: K.1, 1.1, 2.1
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: K.7, 1.7, 2.7


Life Science: LS 1 – From Molecules to Organisms: Structure and Function
Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science: ETS 1 – Engineering Design


subscribe     Blog by Carol Malnor I love making connections: kids and nature, science and reading, fun and learning. I discovered the joy of connecting Dawn Publications' books with kids when I was a classroom teacher. Dawn's books were easy to incorporate into my lessons and the kids loved them. I used picture books with students of all ages, from primary school all the way up through 9th grade. Over the years, my relationship with Dawn changed and developed, and I authored Dawn’s Teacher’s Guides as well as writing books for children 4-14 years old. ARTICLE How to Use Creative Nonfiction Picture Books in Support of Common Core and Science ACTIVITIES Dawn Publications STANDARDS Common Core State Standards Next Generation Science Standards National Science Teachers Association Picture Perfect Science   OTHER FAVORITES Dawn Publications Children and Nature Network
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