Sequencing is a very important skill in Kindergarten. It is hard to keep students interesting in creating an appropriate sequence sometimes; there are only so many stories they want to remember all of the parts from! So, I like to take sequencing and apply it to nonfiction texts to allow students to make a real-life connection to the skill of sequencing!
Students LOVE plants in Kindergarten because it is something they all see regularly, but don't know much about; I take advantage of this and use plants to our benefit!
Here is a detailed explanation about why sequencing the plant life cycle is an important support skill.
"Today, we are going to learn a little about plants! Who in here has seen plants? (wait time)
Who in here has taken care of plants? (wait time) Who in here knows how plants grow? (wait time)....
Well, it seems like some of you know a lot about plants. Well, did you know that plants have a specific life cycle? (wait time) Yes, plants do have a specific cycle of life! And today, we are going to learn the sequence of their life cycles!"
"Before we get started, I am going to let you watch a video so you can have a little background knowledge. I want you to pay attention to how exactly the plant grows. Please notice what happens first and then each step after that! We will be discussing this after the video!"
* I think it's important to use a video here because it raises engagement while also allowing students to access some background knowledge that some of them may be missing. Also, it's always a good thing to have students hear information from someone other than me- it builds their bank of ideas!
At this time, I show kids this really great video from BrainPopJr; however, this website requires a subscription! Now that I have a subscription, it's great! I just make sure to remember to pause the video when the play button turns red- that allows students wait time after a question has been asked!
Before I had a subscription, here is another video I used! (With this second video, (I had to narrate and read the words. Also, I point out key vocabulary terms as well.)
I could also show this video and leave it open ended- it shows you how the plants grow, but simply ends by saying the seeds inside of new fruits and flowers have baby plants- I could then ask, "So what might happen to those fruits or flowers and the seeds they have?"
Once the video is over, I have students talk each other through the plant life cycle that they remember from the video. (I love testing students listening skills by seeing who is able to remember the information and also who is able to remember the information accurately.) After a minute or two of conversation, I call students back to talk to me.
"I heard some great talking. I noticed that many of you knew parts of the plant life cycle. But, today I said we were going to work on sequencing. Can anyone tell me what sequencing means?"
(I will call on a student and they should tell me the vocabulary definition that I have taught before, "The sequence is the correct order of connected events.")
"Yes, the sequence is the correct order of connected events. So, I know a lot of you remembered pieces of the plant life cycle, but we have to make sure that we remember them in order. Let's move back here to our board and I am going to go over some informational text about the plant life cycle. This will tell us the facts about the plant life cycle, in order, and then we can hopefully come back and come up with a sequence together!"
At this time, I take all of my students back to see My (TPT) Informational Plant Bulletin Board
We go close to it so students can see the images and the words while I talk through the information. This bulletin board serves as our type of read aloud. If I didn't have this board, I would, of course, use an informational text; however, this board is helpful as a visual and as a reference for this lesson (and following lessons). As I look at my posters, I read them in order, and I discuss the important vocabulary terms as we go along!
Here are the main points of what I discuss:
Plants start as a SEED- a baby plant lives inside a seed.
Plants grow ROOTS- roots are like a sponge because they soak up water and nutrients, and they keep the plant stationary.
Plants then grow a STEM- the stem is like a straw, taking water to the rest of the plant- it also holds up the leaves, flowers or fruits and keeps the plant reaching for sunlight.
Next, plants grow LEAVES- leaves are really important because they make food for the plants. They also make oxygen for us!
Finally, plants grow flowers and/or fruit- flowers and fruit both help the plant reproduce, or make new seeds.
After new seeds are made and they get planted, the entire cycle starts again!
"Now that we have heard a little about the order in which plants grow, let's see if we can remember the sequence for ourselves and re-tell it in our own words!"
When we get back to our spots on the carpet, I allow my students to talk their way through the sequence before sharing their ideas with me.
"Alright... I would like for you to tell your partner what the first step in the life cycle of a plant is!" I allow students a minute or two to talk about the seed. I monitor conversations and re-direct where needed.
"Okay, I heard some good conversations. So, raise your hand if you can tell me, in a complete sentence, what is the first step in the life cycle of a plant?"
At this point, I take a student or two to tell me what to write on my chart. If a student doesn't know the answer or is unable to explain their thinking, I ask for someone else to help them. Then, I add their information to our reference chart.
"Now, we have the seed... what comes next... Talk to your partner about it!" Again, I allow students a minute or two to talk about the roots (and the water and sunlight the seed needs to grow roots). I monitor conversations and re-direct where needed.
"Great ideas, guys! Raise your hand if you can tell me, in a complete sentence, what is the second step, after the seed is planted, in the plant life cycle?"
At this point, I take a student or two to tell me what to write on my chart. If they do not mention water and sunlight, I add that to our chart myself and model adding in that thinking!
I go through these same steps with each of the following parts of the life cycle as well:
Stems, Leaves, Flowers and Fruits
I go on to ask, "Raise your hand if you can tell me, in a complete sentence, what is the third step, after the seed grows roots, in the plant life cycle?" STEM
"Raise your hand if you can tell me, in a complete sentence, what is the fourth step, after the stem grows, in the plant life cycle?" LEAVES
"Raise your hand if you can tell me, in a complete sentence, what is the fifth step, after the leaves grow and begin to make food, in the plant life cycle?" FLOWERS/FRUITS
Throughout this process, it is important to correct students who are not remembering the order of the plant life cycle correctly. I continuously remind students that the goal of this lesson is for them to remember the sequence of the plant life cycle!
Once we have sequenced our list, I like to have them critically think about the following things:
"What if we didn't water the seed?" (wait time) Allow discussion with partners.
"What would happen if the plant didn't grow enough roots?" (wait time) Allow discussion with partners.
"What do you think would happen to a plant that didn't grow leaves? Why?" (wait time) Allow discussion with partners.
"All of the ideas I heard you guys coming up with were great. Some of you realized that if the plants didn't do the things we discussed in order, they wouldn't be able to live or flourish! So, it's not just in books that the sequence is important; sequencing, especially with living things, is crucial! That's why we have to remember things in order!"
^This is how I choose to close my lesson because I love to remind students that sequencing isn't just a reading skill- it's a real-life connection for them!
To assess this task, I differentiate using the attached worksheets.
With my approaching group, I let the students cut and glue the plant life cycle in order; I grade their papers for sequential correctness.
Plant Life Cycle- Approaching Group- Order the Pictures
With my on-level group, I have them read small portions of passages and glue those pieces in sequential order. I grade papers for sequential correctness (and if they were able to read most of the words themselves or with a partner (without my help)).
Plant Life Cycle- Middle Group- Order Story Pieces
With my beyond level group, I give them a graphic organizer with 4 boxes for them to put the life cycle in sequential order in their own words. I save this for my higher group because it requires students to combine information and to categorize their thoughts because they have to take the 6 steps we talked about and turn them into 4. I grade papers for sequential correctness of their own well-formed ideas.
I love to add things to connect my lessons! This lesson has so many stepping stones. Here are just a few extras:
1.) Here is a cool video for initial learning about the plant life cycle that actually asks students questions so they will remain engaged throughout watching the video.
2.) Here is a cutesy little video with a cartoon beginning and a science experiment at the end. The kids like the cartoon and I like the experiment part- it shows students how water is soaked up by plants by putting food coloring in the water; and I don't have to actually do it myself!
3.) Plant Life Cycle Emergent Reader! This book is one that students can take to library center and put together and read for themselves. Students can even take this book home and read it to their family members to remind them of the sequence of the plant life cycle! I love having this book as a review a week or two after we complete this lesson!
4.) Watch the plant life cycle in real time - plant a seed and watch the plant grow!