Survival of a Plant

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SWBAT recognize that plants need sunlight and water to grow.

Big Idea

Did you know that plants need water and sunlight to survive?

Setting the Stage

Next Generation Science Standards:

This lesson addresses NGSS standard 2.LS2-1, plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plants need sunlight and water to grow. It also focuses on science and engineering practices, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, and asking questions. This lesson is imperative because students are expected to develop an understanding of what plants need to in order to grow. Students will need to learn that plants require air, water, nutrients, and light in order to survive.

Science and Engineering Practices in NGSS:

This lesson addresses SP4: analyzing and interpreting data and  SP 8 obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information. This is imperative because students use observations first hand to describe relationships in the natural and designed world in order to answer scientific questions and solve problems. In this lesson, students collect and record data at the beginning and end of their experiment. They compare the height, number of leaves, and color of the leaves.

In 2nd grade, students need to opportunity to obtain, evaluate, and communicate information that builds on prior experiences and uses observations and texts to communicate new information. Students collaborate in groups to communicate their understanding of how a plant survives.

Prior Knowledge

Students will have some prior knowledge about what living things need.  However, they need to  understand how the sun is needed to make food for the plant. Also, keep in mind the students do not have a wealth of knowledge about the scientific method. As a result, this lesson is a guided inquiry investigation.  The entire class will be provided a lab sheet for recording their own responses in order to become familiar with the scientific method.

The students observe the plant for a week.

Parental Involvement:

In the weekly newsletter, I ask parents to donate two of the same green leafy plants.  This allows parents to share in science investigations.


  • 2 shoes boxes
  • 2 identical plants
  • black construction paper
  • measuring cup
  • marker
  • centimeter ruler
  • lab sheet
  • tap water
  • plant lab sheet
  • Venn diagram










10 minutes

At students' desks, they listen to a song about what plants need to survive. They are invited to sing along.  Singing helps stimulate my students' thinking and assists my auditory learners. Singing also helps them retain content.



After the video plays, students are asked: What are the five things that plants need to survive; and  how  is each thing imperative to survival?  They are encouraged to talk in  complete sentences. This helps my students become better communicators and writers.


25 minutes

While students are sitting at their desks,  I inform them as a whole class that they will plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plants need sunlight and water to grow,NGSS 2-LS2-1.

All students are provided their own plant lab sheet for recording.  I inform them that even though we are completing this process as a class, they have an opportunity to record their individual responses, so they can become familiar with the scientific method. This helps the students understand the process and take ownership of their learning. Students are informed that as a class, we will investigate "What do plants need?".

Students are lead through the scientific method step- by- step.

1. Observe and ask question- The students observe two of the same leafy plants.  Students are asked: What questions do you have about the plants, labeled A and B? Some of the students share their responses.

2. Formulate a hypothesis-  I pose the following question to the students- What effect does sunlight and water have on a plant? Since my students are not familiar with writing a hypothesis, I provide them with a sentence frame- If I cover the leaves of Plant B and not water it, then the plant will__________.  "If" and "then" statements make students aware that something will occur in an investigation if you change or add a condition (variable). As a class, we discuss some of their responses.

3. Plan the test- Students are asked:  What materials and steps are needed for the test? They  write the steps and materials down on their lab sheet.  Once they are finished, some of the students are called on to share.

4. Do the test-  Before we begin the investigation, I call on two students to measure the height, count the number of leaves, and tell the color of the leaves for Plant A and Plant B. The students  record the data.

Then I call on a volunteer to cover plant B carefully with black construction paper. I prepare a sunny place for the plant A  to live and have the classroom monitors care for the plants for one week. A student will water plant A daily or when it is needed. The students will observe the height, number of leaves, and color of leaves and revisit their data chart to record their findings. 

To avoid common error, I show the students how to measure the plant properly by gently placing the ruler on top of the soil. The stem is stretched out to its full length. 

5. Draw Conclusion and Communicate- After a week, students are asked: Were your predictions correct? I have them record their findings on the lab sheets. Then we discuss their results.

These are the questions that I ask my students: What stayed the same in your test? What is one thing you changed? How did you measure the height of the plant? How does light effect the way plant grows?




10 minutes

While sitting together on the carpet, students present their conclusions and share their findings with others.

I uncover plant B and I have them compare and contrast the two plants. The students are asked:How they are alike and different? Then I ask the students-Which plant looks healthy and why?;Why did plant B change?; What can we do to improve plant B's condition?

To evaluate all students, they are provided with a Venn diagram to complete.  The Venn diagram permits students to compare and contrast the two plants. Students are provided this assessment, so they can continue to develop further with comparing and contrasting. In analyzing the assessment, I make sure that students successfully compare and contrast plant A and plant B. Students should notice that the leaves on plant B turn brown or yellow and the plant did not grow properly due to it  not receiving the proper amount of water or sunlight.

 Student work.