With a hands-on approach, grow your students' knowledge of plants, from plant structure to life cycle to oxygen production.
- Recognize that roots, stems, leaves and flowers are parts of plants
- Observe and record the different parts of a plant
- Understand how the parts work together to help the plant
- Scrap newsprint
- Magnifying glasses, one per student
- A flowering plant (from a flower pack), one for each pair of students
- Water tray, one for each pair of students
- Paper plate, one for each pair of students
- Two potted plants: one with a cutting (stem and flower without the roots) stuck in the soil, and one with roots
- Chart paper and markers
- Drawing paper for each student
- Pencils or pens
- Crayons or colored pencils
- Optional: Large pot or flowerbox
- Optional: Loose soil for replanting
- Lay out newsprint on the tables.
- Fill water trays for partners.
- Set out magnifying glasses.
- Set out plants from plastic container, but leave soil around roots.
- Establish science partners.
Step 1: Gather students in a circle and tell them that today we are going to look at the four parts of a plant. Show students two potted plants: one with a cutting (stem and flower without the roots) stuck in the soil and one with roots. Ask students to gently push on the plants as they are passed around and observe what happens (plant with the cutting in soil falls over). Ask why one plant falls over and not the other.
Step 2: Explain that one of the four parts of a plant students will be looking at today is called a root. The roots hold the plant in place and bring water and food (or minerals) from the soil to the plant.
Step 3: Tell students that they are going to get a chance to look at the roots of a plant with a science partner. Explain the steps carefully before sending students to begin. One partner will hold the plant while the other washes the dirt away. Each partner must be gentle so that the plant does not break. When the plant is cleaned, lay it on the paper plate and examine the roots with the magnifying glasses.
Step 4: Distribute materials. Send the science partners to their seats to wash the roots and observe their plants.
Note: You may choose to do this part outside because of the mess.
Step 1: Ask science partners to gather on the carpet in a circle with their plants and magnifying glasses so they can look at their plants while you discuss the parts. (While students are gathering, you may want to collect the water and newsprint.) Ask what students noticed about the roots. How did they compare to the roots of the seeds they had grown in the cup in Lesson One?
Step 2: Ask one of the students to draw the plant that they observed on a sheet of chart paper. Make sure the student includes the roots, stem, leaves, and flower.
Step 3: Ask students to point to the roots of their plant. Label the roots on the chart. Ask students if they know the other parts of the plant. Some students may know the names, while some will not. Label the other parts: stem, leaves, and flower. While you label, ask students to point to that part on their own plant. Explain the function of the parts. Stems carry water and food from the roots to the leaves. They also hold the leaves up to get the energy from the sun. Leaves are the food factory for the plant. They take the water and minerals from the soil and combine it with the sunlight energy and carbon dioxide from the air to make food for the plant. Explain how animals breathe out carbon dioxide to give to the plants, while the plants give off oxygen for us to breathe in. Lastly explain that although the flowers are beautiful to look at, the real purpose is to make fruit and seeds.
Step 4: Tell students that now they will have an opportunity to draw a diagram of their plant and label the parts. Send science partners back to their tables to complete their diagram and label the parts. Encourage students to color their pictures.
Step 5: Gather science partners together to share their diagrams.
Optional: Replant the flowers in a large pot or flowerbox to enjoy outside. When the flowers die, dry them and save the seeds so the children can see from where they come.
Supporting All Learners
Where appropriate, help students label their pictures with beginning sound letters or words. Those that are able can write words or sentences. Take dictation for students that need it.
Show students how stems bring up water and food to the plant.
- Put celery and white carnations in jars with food coloring and watch over a week's time.
- After a week, the white carnations will be the color of the food coloring.
- Mark the water level so you can show students that the water has been sucked up through the stem like a straw.
- Split open the celery stalk and show students the tubes that bring up the water.
With parental permission, ask students to bring in flowers and leaves from around their home and community. Make a display in class and try to identify the kinds of leaves and flowers.
- Complete a diagram of a plant with labeled parts
- Did students make an accurate drawing of the plant?
- Did students label the parts?
- What kind of emergent writing is apparent?
- Was there enough time for students to be successful?
- What would I do differently?
Observe how students work with their science partner and how they label their diagram.