Build on students' interest in The Magic School Bus with science lesson plans and activities that encourage hands-on learning.
Field Trip Notes
The photographer from Plant It! Magazine is coming to photograph Ms. Frizzle's class garden. But Phoebe doesn't have a plant. She wants to get her plant from the garden at her old school and replant it in her new school garden. There isn't much time, so Ms. Frizzle turns the Magic School Bus into a tiny ladybug-bus and flies the class to the other school's garden. The kids get a bug's-eye view of the flower world and find out how seeds are created, how they travel, and how they grow into plants. Will the class be able to get the seed from Phoebe's plant back to their garden? Can Ms. Frizzle sprout the seed in time for the photo shoot?
Going Hands-On: Seeds on the Move
Ms. Frizzle's class hangs on inside the tiny Magic School Bus as it hitches a ride on a wind-traveling seed. The seed travels by clinging to an animal — in this case, a man on a bicycle!
What You Need
- Different seeds of various structures and sizes (such as maple tree, sunflower, cockleburs, dandelion, etc.)
- Cups of water
- Stuffed animals
- Copies of Seeds on the Move page
- Optional: Small standing fan
Set Up and Prepare: Finding Seeds
You can purchase seeds at a gardening store or gather seeds from local gardens. If you are planning to gather seeds found in nature, research the wind-traveling, hitchhiker, and water-traveling seeds native to your area. If you do this activity in the autumn, you can find wind-traveling seeds from late fall flowers. Other wind-travelers include maple trees, goldenrods, and dandelions. Pick up hitchhikers by walking among weeds in a vacant lot or field. Hitchhikers include burdocks and cockleburs. Bladdernut and sunflower seeds, or other seeds that can float, will demonstrate how seeds can travel by water.
Talk About It
Ask students: Have you ever seen seeds travel? How did they move?
What You Do
- Have each student choose three seeds to test.
- Have students write the name of each seed on their Seeds on the Move pages.
- Ask students to draw a detailed picture of each seed.
- Have students guess how they think each seed travels, then circle wind, water, or hitchhiker under Prediction on the Seeds on the Move chart.
- Help students test each seed with the three different tests outlined below and circle the results under Observation on the Seeds on the Move chart.
Wind Test: Hold the seed in the air and let it drop. If it drifts, it shows how a seed can travel by wind. Optional: You can also drop the seed in front of a small standing fan.
Water Test: Drop seeds into a cup of water and stir. The ones that float show how seeds can travel by water.
Hitchhiker Test: Put a stuffed animal on top of each seed, press down, then lift up the animal. The seeds that stick show how seeds can travel by sticking to an animal.
Give kids craft and art materials to make their own wind traveler, water traveler, or hitchhiker seeds. When students have finished their seeds, they should have a friend test the seeds to find out how they travel.