Before I share all of our plant life cycle activities I have to say how much I’m enjoying our warm spring temperatures! Spring weather means it’s time to plant so last week during Spring Break I spruced up my little reading nook, planted all of my pots and finally moved my (very messy) fuscia back outside.
Plant Life Cycle Activities
It’s almost plantin’ time in my classroom too! We’re gearing up to study life cycles and I wanted to share some of the fun plant activities that we do! This is one of my very favorite units to teach and is always a highlight for my students.
Parts Of A Seed
We observe the inside of a seed by soaking lima beans. Soaking them for about 5 minutes makes it easy to split them open. Students then use a magnifying glass for a close look at the inside of the seed. Pinto beans work just fine, but I prefer lima beans because of their larger size.
These large beans are perfect for a close up view of the inner workings and labeling the parts of a seed. Last year, I placed one under a document camera which made it even easier to see the seed coat, cotyledon, and the plant embryo.
Observing the Changes
During our plant study, we also germinate seeds and grow lima bean plants. We place our lima bean seeds between damp paper towels (with a little squirt of hand sanitizer to prevent mold) inside a sandwich bag. We check on them every couple of days and record any changes.
Exploring How Leaves Help A Plant
As we learn about plants, we do several learning labs along the way including this one to answer the question,”How do leaves help a plant get light?”
This lesson visual makes for great discussion as students explore how the various leaf shapes help a plant get light.
Students look at different types of leaves and compare their shape, size and outer covering. We predict which leaf types would help a plant get more sunlight. We also ask ourselves, “Can we tell how much light a plant needs by the type and shape of leaf it has?”
Incorporating Reading Skills in Science
During our unit we make several mini books to include in our culminating project. After learning and working with plant vocabulary students use the vocabulary as they later explain various processes of the life cycle.
I post lots of visuals along with our plant vocabulary as a reference for students while they are writing. I expect them to use the content vocabulary as they write to explain the stages and processes of the life cycle as well as in their learning labs. We used these anchor charts to help us identify the parts of a plant and to understand the process of photosynthesis.
Writing to Explain
I gather lots of informational texts about plants for students to read and use during research. I also use videos from BrainPop Jr. during our lessons. We later write about photosynthesis and how a plant makes it’s own food in mini books. My students love the novelty of writing in mini books or even on smaller pages. These then go inside of our final flower booklets.
We used yarn to make the roots of our flowers before writing about the job of the roots.
Another piece of our booklets includes writing to explain and researching plant facts. Students read informational books and research facts to include on the back of the flower’s petals.
Once we complete everything, we compile all of our learning and writing in foldable flower booklets. My students being able to combine all of their learning in one final project. I love it because too! I use these as an assessment and take grades for science, vocabulary, writing, and even grammar.
My class worked so hard on these and they were really proud of their finished work!
Incorporating Art Into our Plant Study
Because students now understand why a plant’s leaves are green, I like to use that knowledge in an art activity. Toward the end of the day on a Friday we “paint” with chlorophyll by doing leaf rubbings.
I love to tie in art wherever I can. This year my class learned about Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings during our plant unit. Several of my students wanted their booklets to be sunflowers.
At the end of our unit we displayed these in our hallway for our end of year open house along with all the activities we did with the frog and butterfly life cycles. Our parents were delighted with how we turned our hallway into a life cycle writing garden!
If you’d like to do this with your class, you can find all of these activities here in a complete plant life cycle unit. It has everything you need to teach an fun, organized, and effective science unit on plants with 2 weeks of lesson plans and assessment. Plus, learning labs, printables, mini lessons, charts, graphic organizers and the foldable flower booklet make planning a breeze!
Find the Life Cycle of Plants unit here and have a look at this fun little video!
For more life cycle ideas, see how we incorporated reading, writing, and math as we studied the butterfly life cycle and raised butterflies in our classroom!
I hope you’ve found some ideas and resources to make teaching and learning fun and to get your class writing about science! Be sure to pin these for later for when it’s plating time in YOUR classroom!
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