With the arrival of spring, many of us find our students staring longingly out the window. As teachers we attempt to continue to teach the required standards, but it's a challenge. Why not take advantage of spring fever by bringing the outdoors inside with some plant activities?
Plants provide an excellent way to teach students about inquiry and science process skills. Something as simple as growing seeds in cups can provide endless hours of classroom activities. You can start by purchasing some seeds, such as lima beans or peas, and placing them in a baggie with a wet paper towel. Within two or three days, the seeds will begin to sprout, and students can plant them (sprout side down) in some potting soil (about ¾ inch deep). By allowing them to sprout before planting, the seeds will grow faster and provide almost instant excitement when the first green shoots begin to pop out of the soil. Students can investigate how different variables affect plant growth, such as amounts of sunlight, water, and fertilizer. Some students might even find it interesting to determine if talking to plants really helps them grow taller.
If you have access to an outdoor space, students can experiment with different types of vegetables or flowers. You can have them research which types of flowers are preferred by various pollinators (such as butterflies), and document the numbers and types of insects observed around your flower garden. You could also have your students track the path of Monarch Butterflies as they make their way north from Mexico Journey North’s Monarch Butterfly Migration Tracking Project. If you plant milkweed near your school, you can encourage Monarchs to make a stop in your area.
As part of a plant unit, students might also learn about the parts of a flower, the life cycle of a plant, plant reproduction, or the role insects play as plant pollinators. The possibilities are endless, and you’ll have given your students a reason to stay focused on learning in the last few weeks of school! What follows are more plant life cycle activities and lessons.
Plant Life Cycle Activities:
In this lesson students doing an investigation to compare and contrast how seeds grow in different locations. They find out how seeds travel, and identify the parts of a seed.
This lesson, which can be used at various grade levels, has students learn how seeds grow. Students design a way to experiment with seed growth, conduct the experiment, and then discuss their results.
In this lesson students participate in a WebQuest about plants. They learn about the parts of a plant, plant life cycles, and how plants reproduce.
This lesson has students perform experiments to determine the nutrients plants need. They learn about fertilizers, compost, and soil management. They identify nutrient deficiencies in plants. They vote on issues related to agriculture and urban water issues.