Stand Tall for Early Years by Planting Sunflowers #standingtall4EY

To mark Empathy Day (9 June), London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) is launching its Standing Tall for Early Years campaign – with a call for ALL Early Years settings across the UK to join together in planting sunflower seeds with children, celebrating the sector’s move towards a fresh new chapter and we’re getting involved too 😍. 


With many settings reopening their doors after a turbulent few months, LEYF’s mission is “to celebrate all the great achievements and bravery carried out by the sector” – especially those who have played a crucial role in Britain’s fight against coronavirus by caring for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.


As the sunflower buds bloom and grow, nursery and childcare staff across the country will be encouraged to post photos of their sunflower(s) – and a tape measure to record how tall they are – @leyfonline using the hashtag #standingtall4EY 


A prize will be awarded for the tallest towering sunflower by LEYF’s green-fingered garden expert and co-author of 50 Fantastic Ideas for Nursery Gardens, Clodagh Halse.


June O’Sullivan, CEO of London Early Years Foundation says: “Both the sector and the children have been through so much uncertainty, upheaval and change over the past few months, we at LEYF believe NOW is the time to understand each other’s emotions, be kind to each other and look to the future with hope and positivity. What better way to do this than planting radiant sunflowers and standing tall together. Early Years has been badly underfunded for a decade, and in the last financial year, the childcare sector faced a £600m funding shortfall – not to mention a lack of status and recognition from the Government. Let’s all unite and shine much-needed light on the great work we all do.”


Clodagh Halse, co-author of 50 Fantastic Ideas for Nursery Gardens adds, “Taking ownership of individual plants will increase the children’s involvement and awareness of the growing process. Caring for the plants and comparing measurements will help them learn through change – something which we’ve all had to embrace over the past few months.”


Hints and tips…

  • Sunflowers can be sown straight into the ground where they are going to flower, so make sure you use a trowel to remove any weeds from around the area before planting
  • Find a suitable spot where they will get 6-8 hours of sun per day – this is what they need to grow successfully.
  • Rake the soil to a fine tilth (a fine crumbly texture) and make some drills 12mm deep. Leave a 10cm space between each seed if you are sowing more than one.
  • Place the seed(s) in carefully and cover up with soil. Don’t forget to water the seeds gently.
  • Be careful, as slugs and snails like to eat new shoots. You may want to protect the seedlings by cutting the top off a plastic bottle and placing it over your seedlings.
  • As your sunflower begins to grow taller than you, you will need to help support the stem by placing a cane near the stem and loosely tying it to the plant with string.
  • Watch your sunflower grow and grow and grow…


For further details about how to get involved in Empathy Day and help children read, connect and act using empathy, visit:


We’ll be posting our photos and videos across social media so keep posted! #standingtall4EY