Parts of a Plant

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SWBAT identify the parts of a plant and describe the role each part plays in survival.

Big Idea

Students will create a model of a plant that includes labels for the parts and a description of the role of each part.

Rationale and Preparation

The Why Behind Teaching This: 

Unit 3 addresses standards related to the transfer of energy and matter between organisms in an ecosystem.  The unit begins with identifying what solar energy is and what two forms of energy solar energy provides life on Earth.  This is an important foundation for understanding standard 5-PS3-1: Use models to describe that energy in animals' food (used for body repair, growth, motion, and to maintain body warmth) was once energy from the sun.  We build on this knowledge throughout the unit in other lessons related to photosynthesis and how animals use the energy they get from food.  In this unit students will also be conducting experiments to gather evidence to support their belief that plants get the materials they need for growth from either water, air, or the soil.  This is covered in standard 5-LS1-1: Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water. Students will also be creating food chains and food webs to describe the movement of matter among organisms in an ecosystem.  This is covered in standard 5-LS2-1: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.

I combined these three standards all into unit 3 because teaching them together allows students to see how they are all connected.  The energy that plants get from the sun is stored in their parts until animals consume them.  Plants cannot absorb this energy and reproduce without other materials from the environment such as carbon dioxide from the air, and water and nutrients from the soil.  The animals that consume the plants, use part of the energy for growth, reproduction, etc. but they also store some of the energy.  That energy is then passed on to other animals when they are eaten by other animals.  All of the energy that is available in an ecosystem can ultimately be traced back to the sun.  Teaching all of these standards together, instead of in isolation of each other, makes that connection easier to see.    

This specific lesson is building the foundation to dive deeper into standard 5-PS3-1: Use models to describe that energy in animals' food (used for body repair, growth, motion, and to maintain body warmth) was once energy from the sun.  In order to understand how energy in animals food was once energy from the sun that was absorbed and stored by plants, students must understand photosynthesis.  Before teaching the process of photosynthesis, students must be aware of the parts of a plant and what role each part plays. We will build on this relating the role of each to photosynthesis in the next lesson.   

Lesson Goal: 

The goal of this lesson is for students to be able to identify the parts of a plant, and describe the role that each part plays in the survival of the plant. 

Success Criteria:

Students will demonstrate success on this lesson goal by correctly labeling each plant part and the role of each part on the exit ticket at the end of the lesson.  

Preparing for Lesson:

Warm Up:

  • Place 5 stalks of celery in individual cups of water, with food coloring added, the day before teaching this lesson.
  • Whiteboard and marker for each group to diagram 
  • Hand lens for each group to use for making observations    

Guided Practice: 

Students will be copying a diagram of a plant during this activity so the only materials needed are their science notebooks and the overhead. 

  • A copy of the Plant part diagram labels could be used as a modification for any ESE and ELL students that struggle with copying information. 


 Each pair of students will need:

  • 1 long piece of white construction paper 
  • 1 brown marker 
  • 6 - 8 pieces of yarn cut 1 foot long each 
  • liquid glue 
  • green construction paper 
  • plant part labels copied for each pair (I copy them on colored paper so they stand out more)

You will also need to have the Steps for Creating Plant Model copied to project on the overhead for students to refer to. 

Wrap Up: 

You will need one copy of the plant part exit ticket for each student

Warm Up

10 minutes

Providing a Visual:

The previous day, I placed five stalks of celery in cups of water with food coloring.  I begin the lesson for today by providing each group one of those stalks of celery, a normal stalk of celery unaltered, and a magnifying glass.  I provide each group with a white board and marker and ask them to describe how the celery that was placed in the food coloring is different, and to illustrate on the board how they believe the change to the celery happened over night.  I circulate to listen to conversations and to answer questions as they begin diagramming.  


After about five minutes, I ask groups to share their diagram and describe what happened to the celery.  I choose to do this activity with celery because the food color travels up the celery and colors the leaves very easily and relatively quickly.  I also like that students are able to see the tube like structures, or straw like canals as one group described them, that run through the celery and transport the water and food coloring.  The purpose of having students make their own observations and diagrams is for them to be able to make the connection between the tube like structures and the food coloring getting to the leaves at the top.  


In the video of group explanation for what happened to the celery, this group mentions cutting the celery open to see if the food coloring can be seen inside.  I had not thought about doing this, but after hearing them I decided to try it.  I broke a piece in half and there were little blue dots.  Those dots were the straw-like tubes that the food coloring had traveled up.  This provided students with an inside look at how the process occurs.  

I make the connection between today's lesson and the previous day's lesson by stating,  "Yesterday you made a hypothesis on what impacted plant growth the most: sunlight, water, soil, or air.  Today, we are going to identify the parts of plants that are responsible for absorbing or using each of these items.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

Diagramming in Notebooks:

I explain to students that we are going to begin by diagramming the parts of a plant and what each part does. Students take out their science notebooks as I place mine on the overhead for them to see. Having this projected in front of the class is helpful for all visual learners but is most helpful to the ESE, ELL, and struggling writers in my class.  

I pass out a ziplock bag with a precut copy of the Plant part diagram labels in it to all ESE and ELL students.  These students struggle with copying down information quickly and listening to instruction at the same time.  By providing them with copies of the written information, they can glue it in the appropriate places while the rest of the class copies down the information, allowing them to still focus on what I am saying.  

To  begin the diagram, I draw a horizontal line about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom of the page.  I draw lines branching out from the center of that line to represent roots.  Students are able to tell me this part of the plant are the roots and I label it in my notebook.  When asked what the role of the roots is, they tell me to absorb water from the soil.  They are not able to identify any other roles.  I ask them how the roots help plants here in Florida when we experience high winds from a hurricane.  They are able to then tell me they hold the plants in the ground.  I draw a box under the roots heading and record They absorb water and nutrients from the soil and anchor the plant in the ground. 


I then draw a line extending up from the center of the horizontal line to represent the stem.   Students are able to identify it as the stem and I label it on my diagram.  I ask them how this structure is similar to the celery they observed earlier.  They tell me both suck up the water.  I ask them if they believe the stem is just one large tube like a straw, or if it has several smaller tubes running up it like the celery.  Most say it has several small tubes but a few students tell me it is like a straw.  I tell them that there are smaller tubes that make it up but you can't always see them in a stem.   I draw a box under the stem heading and record Transports water from the roots to the leaves. 


I then add two leaves to the diagram, students are able to identify them as leaves and I label them in the diagram.  Students are not able to identify the role of leaves.  They have not yet taught photosynthesis so this will help introduce them to the process.  I access a website on the role of leaves in photosynthesis.  I read the top portion of the page and the three bullets.  I tell students there are three things that we will be recording for the role of the leaves and ask them if they can now identify them.  The tell me recycle carbon dioxide.  I ask if anyone knows what gas the carbon dioxide is being recycled for and several students are able to tell me oxygen.  Another thing they identify as one of the roles is to absorb light.  They have a difficult time coming up with the third role.  I refer back to the diagram we are drawing in our notebooks.  I start at the roots and follow the flow of the water from the roots, through the stem.  I ask them where the water goes after the stem and they are then able to tell me the water goes to the leaves.   I draw a box under the leaf heading and record Water is transported here and they absorb light and carbon dioxide for photosynthesis.   


 The final step to our diagram is to add the flower and label it with the role of reproduction  While we do not cover this, I feel it is important to at least mention it so they have that knowledge to build off of next year.  



30 minutes

Creating Models:

Students will now apply what they have learned to build a model of a plant that labels all major parts.  I begin the model with them to help them complete the roots and stem.  They finish the model by adding the leaves, flowers, and all labels.  

I have students work with their table group to complete the model but this can be done in pairs or individually as well.  I provide each group with a long sheet of construction paper, a brown marker, several pieces of yarn precut to each be 1 foot long, a rubber band, 1 piece of green construction paper, and 1 piece of colored construction paper.  I place the Steps for Creating Plant Model on the overhead and model the first few steps for them: 

Step 1: Gather all pieces of yarn together so that they are the same length when placed together.  

Step 2: Wrap the rubber band around the strands of yarn about 4 inches up from the bottom. 

Step 3: Twist the strands of yarn together from the rubber band up, this will be the stem.

Step 4: Color about 1/4 of the paper to represent the soil (I just had them draw a line). 

Step 5: Place the rubber banded strand of yarn in the middle of the paper with the rubber band on the line that transitions from brown to white. The loose pieces of yarn should be facing down, and the twisted strand should be stretching up.  (I taped it down to hold it in place and allowed the students to do the same.)

Step 6: Separate the loose pieces of yarn to branch out like roots and glue them on. 

Step 7: Pull 2 pieces of the yarn out, one on each side, at different places on the stem.  These will be used with the leaves. (I told them this step is optional, I allowed them to use a straw as their stem if they wanted to and then would not be able to separate the string.)

 I show them my completed model for the steps above so they have a visual of what the completed product will look like.


I pass out the plant part labels and explain that they will fold them with the label on the outside.  Students will need to write out the role of each part on the inside of the flap.  They will then glue the labels on so that the flaps open to reveal the role.  

Steps they Complete Independently: 

Step 8: Glue the stem on stretching up. 

Step 9: Use the green paper to cut out leaves. 

Step 10: Pull apart the pieces of yarn that were removed from the stem so that there are several tiny pieces.  These will be branched out on top of the leaves when you glue them on.  These represent the veins that run through the leaves. 

Step 11: Finish your plant by making the flower and adding the labels.  I have a variety of colored construction paper and markers available for students to use for their flowers. 




Wrap Up

5 minutes

Exit Ticket

When students complete their model, I pass out the plant part exit ticket to each of them.  They complete the exit ticket by filling in the box with the part name and at least one role of that part.  I did not include the flower because it is not something that they will be assessed on.  Students complete the exit ticket independently, without using their science notebooks.  

I thought at least 90% of students would get all three of the items correct on the exit ticket and it was about 80%.  A couple examples of those who demonstrated proficiency are below. 



There were only about 8 students, 4 from each class, that did not get them all correct.  One student did not attempt and just put question marks, he is ESE and ELL so he may not have grasped the vocabulary. 


Two students only recorded the name of each part and did not include the function.  That tells me they either did not follow directions, or did not know the role each part plays.  Both students are ESE and ELL.  


A couple of other students did not use correct vocabulary.  The photo below shows a work sample where the student wrote "the stem gives nutrients" and "the roots give water".  The word "give" in these situations is not accurate so it is something I noted to discuss.  All students who made errors in vocabulary are ESE or ELL, except one. 


Because all of the students who made errors on the exit ticket were ESE and ELL, except one, that tells me that I need to do more to support those students with the content.  I will need to provide more opportunities to use the vocabulary as well focus attentions on these students during my daily reviews.