Seeds on the Move - Interactions and Energy

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SWBAT explain and diagram how animals help with seed dispersal and how a disruption in this symbiotic relationship could impact plants and/or animals.

Big Idea

And the players are: Seeds and Animals. Students consider the cause and effect of seed dispersal or lack of seed dispersal for plants and animals.

Question for the Day

10 minutes

Connection to NGSS -2-LS2

Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy and Dynamics. In this lesson students begin to consider the cause and effect of how altering the interactions in an ecosystem may upset an ecosystem, i.e. take out the seed dispersal animal or remove the plant before there are seeds and how does this effect the ecosystem. 

Students will create a cause and effect storyboard to diagram a seed and how it is carried by an animal and released and then answer questions about the storyboard.

Question of the Day: How can seeds by dispersed? is posted on the board. 

Review Last Week's Key Concepts and Question for the Day

I call students to the rug and remind them about our last lesson, Seeds on the Move, where we watched videos to learn about seed dispersal.

"Raise your hand if you can tell me what dispersal means?"

A definition for dispersal is visible in our 'class logbook' for students to refer to as we have our discussion. I call on a student to share.

"If we do not remember what seed dispersal means where can you look to find out?"

I want to promote a community or resourceful learners. I remind them that resources, posted information and classmates are available to help them when they need an answer or are stuck.  This expectation is promoted throughout the day.

"Please read our Question for the Day, quietly to your self. Then take a 'thinking moment' to see if you can recall the four sketches you had last week for seed dispersal."

I want students to have a chance to recall information before sharing with the students, so I provide the 'thinking moment'. Then I ask students to turn and share what they remember.  I am listening to what students are saying, and will call on students that are less apt to volunteer information on their own, but have an answer. I do this to build up their confidence.  

As students share, I write their responses on the board, so that all 4 dispersal methods are on a new page in our log book.

Connecting to Previous Lesson and Storyboard Directions

10 minutes

Time out to review seed attributes; structure and function

To start the students thinking about seed attributes for seed dispersal methods, we play an on line seed sorting game. As volunteers help to sort the seeds, we discuss the attributes for that seed dispersal method. I write the attributes in our class log book.

After the students sorted the seeds, we checked our answers on line. I knew one or two were not in the correct spot, but after moving the seeds, we were told that the sort was incorrect. Do not let this distract you from the lesson. The point of the sort, it to help students build their seed attribute vocabulary.

"We have learned that plants disperse seeds by wind, water, themselves or animals, including people. There are 2 seed dispersal methods that we have observed where seeds move with the help of animals and/or  humans, what are they?" I list the 2 ways on the board.

Animals can help some seeds move and sometimes animals get something from the seeds, like food. When plants and or animals benefit from each other, we call this a symbiotic relationship. Like when the animal moves the seed to a new place to grow or when the animal eats the seed/fruit."

I write symbiotic relationship on the board and draw a quick sketch of the concept to help build a schema for my linguistic and visual/spatial learners.

This would be a natural place to stop the lesson if you need to break it into 2 lessons. This will give the students more time to complete the following storyboard.


I chose to use a story board format  for students to synthesize what they have learned about seed dispersal. The information is visible and clear and helps students summarize the key parts of seed dispersal by animals. Students use diagrams in the storyboard to label seed attributes that help with dispersal and sequence the cause and effect of seed dispersal by animals.

"Today I would like you to use what you have learned to 'design' a seed that could be dispersed by an animal. You will use pictures, labels and sentences in a storyboard to show how the animal moves your designer seed."

"You know how a story has a beginning middle and end? Well your storyboard will show how the seed moves away with the help of an animal. It is like a picture book, but your pictures will have labels, because scientists teach others with their pictures and labels. Underneath each diagram you will write a few detail sentences."

"Your storyboard has a beginning...what would be in the beginning of your story about seed dispersal by an animal? It could start with the seed."

I model by developing my own storyboard under the document camera. "You may start your storyboard like this, hmm I think I want my designer seed to be eaten by a bird. It should be small enough to be eaten in one bite. So in this first box I will draw a seed inside the fruit and label the parts that will attract the bird. What do you think will help this fruit be attractive for a bird?" With student suggestions, I draw the seed and label attributes that will help it be dispersed.

I draw the fruit and label it.  I could talk about color, number of seeds in the fruit. I show students how to label their picture so that anyone could pick up the paper and see the seed attributes.

I point to the lines underneath the diagram, "Here I will write a few sentences to explain my picture."

I do the same modeling when I talk about the seed dispersal animal. Reminding students to label the parts of the animal that will help it disperse the seed. "Does your animal have fur? or a beak?  Your storyboard will show how the animal takes and releases the seed."

"You will answer some questions about your storyboard too. I am going to read the questions to you now and show them on the board. Please follow along with me as I read."

"As you are working on your storyboard you can begin to think about your answers. You can collaborate with the botanists around you too."

Student Storyboard Time

30 minutes

Before the kiddos start, I say, "Think about what you will draw, which seed dispersal method will you design? After one minute you can share with your table partner."

Expectations were set in earlier this year, for 'Our Thinking Time'. This short time provides a moment when students can take a moment to sit with the task and consider how they may want to approach it. Then students share their ideas with their table partner, using the give and take of ideas to help clarify their work.

As the students are developing their storyboard, I walk around the room asking students to tell me about their seed and how it is dispersed. Or I start table discussions about their ideas on what the outcome may be if a symbiotic relationship between animal seed disperser and plant is disturbed within an ecosystem. This way students are talking about their answers before writing them.

Even though I modeled that one event happens on each page of the story board, "it has a beginning, middle and end", some students wanted the animal on the first page.

The next time I do the lesson, I will have the students imagine that we are zooming in on the seed like  camera or magnifying lens for the first page.

Mini-lesson within the Lesson

10 minutes

I signal students' attention and when they are looking at me and pencils are down, I ask them to leave their work where it is and meet me on the rug. I have asked 2 students if I can show their work. I use these to start a discussion on different types of symbiotic relationships.

Let's look at Finley's storyboard. Her storyboard shows a delicious seed, on the next page it shows a bird eating the seed. This shows a mutual relationship between the seed and an animal. The animal gets food and the plant has it seeds moved to new places, better chance for the plant to survive. This is called 'mutualism', because both organisms get something from the other one that helps them survive."

I write this word and draw a quick sketch and post a definition of the word.

The students get a chuckle from my sketches but you may want to have images, or drawing set up with the definitions to save time.

"But not everyone's storyboard shows mutualism. I place the second student example under the document camera, "What does this diagrams show? How do we know that it is not mutualism?"

"When only the animal or plant benefits, we call this 'commensalism'."

This word is also posted with a definition It is not a big deal if the students do not remember these words, but I want to plant a seed. Maybe when they hear the word again it will sound familiar.

(If you notice that the charts and/or sketches are different, I teach science for 2 2nd grade classes.)

"O.K., lets consider the 2 questions on your worksheet. Please turn to your shoulder partner and explain what would happen if the animals that dispersed a seed moved away, before the seeds could be dispersed?"

I listen in to conversations, listening for misunderstandings which I will want to clarify with the entire class.

Then I move on to the next question, "What would happen if the plant species died before it made it seeds?" Students do a pair share with a new partner.

"I heard some great discussions, even if you are not finished with your storyboard, I want you take a moment now and write your answers. Then you can can return to your storyboard."

Then students return to their desks to answer the questions and finish their storyboard. I move around the room and ask students if their pictures show mutualism or commensalism 


Wrap Up

5 minutes

As students finish I ask them to take their storyboard, find someone else who is done and share their storyboards with each other. I walk around the room to check that that the cause and effect aspects are included and that students have labels with captions. After sharing students  turn in their work.

Closure for Our Unit on Seeds

I have been saving the student work from this unit.  On another day, all work from this unit will be passed back, students will write a short reflective piece on the unit, and make a cover for their Seed Unit. Students will staple their work behind the cover and I will save the work for their science portfolio.

Students will review the class log book to add a science vocabulary page too.