Kindergarten children around Rotorua will be cultivating their gardening skills as they work together to grow sunflowers.

The 2017 Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens Project started this week and runs until December 6.

Around New Zealand 11,612 kindergarten children will be working on their gardening skills while competing with other kindergartens in their region to grow the tallest sunflower or widest sunflower head.

Winners are announced on December 8.


There are 220 kindergartens taking part through 10 kindergarten associations around New Zealand.

Central Kids Rotorua East Kindergarten teacher Barbara Stone says they want the children to love the environment and nature, and want them to be involved in it.

"We've got a lot of quite young ones who don't understand the concept now, but it's starting from the beginning."

She says this was the kindergarten's first time taking part in the Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens Project, and that as this age the children were sensory learners so it was good for them.

Barbara says they will graph all the sunflowers and photograph them at each stage.

She says this project is a great idea because it lets them experience gardening skills from the beginning and helps the environment become a normal part of their everyday.

"It's how they learn respect for the environment, themselves and each other."

Their kindergarten is in the process of doing a revamp, trying to introduce more environmental and sustainability aspects like composting and worm farming, she says.

They would be looking to incorporate the sunflowers into their garden as well.

She says they already have feijoas, mandarins, grapes, an apple tree and a herb garden.

"We are so lucky we've got the lakes, the forest, and all these cool things at our fingertips. We need to use it and utilise it, and these kids love being outside."

Oaklee Snowling, 4, says she is looking forward to the sunflowers growing and that she has not planted flowers at home before.

She likes flowers because she likes the smell of them.

Each kindergarten has been sent a Daltons starter pack with everything the children need to grow their own Kings Seeds Skyscraper sunflowers, which have the potential to grow up to 4m high.

The children will learn about sowing seeds, caring for seedlings, planting them out in the garden and daily care of their plant.

The project also offers a range of activities and learning opportunities teachers can integrate into aspects of the early childhood education curriculum.

New to the project this year is The Warehouse, who have partnered up with Daltons to provide prizes to each of the winning kindergartens.