Planting and Planning

8 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT plan an investigation to answer questions about how plants grow.

Big Idea

How does your garden grow? With little hands planting seeds in cups all in a row!

Instructional Notes

This unit is designed with the text, Jack and the Beanstalk, as inspiration for students.  We have investigated the magic seeds, and now students will plan how to plant their seeds in order to answer their questions.

This lesson will address Science and Engineering Practice #3, which includes these components:

  • With guidance, plan and conduct an investigation in collaboration with peers (for K).
  • Plan and conduct an investigation collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence to answer a question.
  • Evaluate different ways of observing and/or measuring a phenomenon to determine which way can answer a question.

Note: This lesson ends with planting of different bean seeds in plastic cups.  I prefer clear plastic cups, because they allow students to watch roots grow.  

NGSS standard 1-LS1-1 asks students to design a solution to a human problem based by mimicking how plants or animals use their external parts to survive, grow, and meet their needs.  By planting seeds, students are able to see first-hand through observations exactly how plants survive and grow.  They also develop their ideas of the function of the parts by seeing the roots (which bring in water), the leaves (which collect sunlight), and the stem (which anchors the plant in place and moves nutrients to and from the other parts).  By watching how seeds actually change into plants, they are better prepared for 1-LS3-1, describing how young plants are similar but not the exact same as adult plants.  Planting seeds is a necessary part of the development of these concepts!

Warm-up: Planting the Seeds

5 minutes

First, I connect to the story, Jack and the Beanstalk.

Friends, Jack planted his magic bean seeds.  What happened next to the seed?  Right, it grew a magical stalk!  

Then, I pose the problem that students will need to design an investigation to solve.

Well, Jack's beanstalk grew so tall, so fast!  I wonder what kind of bean he might have planted.  How can we figure out which bean seed Jack's magic beans might have been?

Exploration: Tending the Garden

30 minutes

Today, students need to figure out how we will determine which bean seed grows the tallest.  Here are some things for you to consider beforehand-- students will need a way to label the seeds, choose which seeds to plant, how many of each seed to plant, and they will need to maintain some controls like all being in the same amount of sunlight.

First, I pose the question.  I ask, "How will we figure out which one Jack may have had as his magic seeds?"  I begin planning by having students discuss ideas with partners.

Students will likely suggest that we plant them and measure them.  I will seize on these ideas and make them plan their investigation carefully.

  • How will we plant them?
  • How will we know which plant is which kind of bean?
  • Should we put them in different parts of the classroom?  What spot in the classroom will work the best for growing plants?  Would it be fair to put only 1 kind in the best sunlight?  How could we make sure they all get equal sunlight?  (Rotate the trays along the windowsill.)  Note: my school has a grow lab, so I hope to use that in order to give equal amounts of light.  Although, my students may choose to try some of each seed on the windowsill and some of each in the grow lab for comparison purposes.
  • How will we measure them?  Should we measure them from the soil up-- just the above-ground parts?  Should we measure with cubes or mark them on a popsicle stick?
  • How will we track their growth?  (Chart?)

The Investigation Notes Chart shows the progression of our conversation.  I also chose to include student names as they participated and shared ideas.  This encourages students to participate and also gives them ownership of the ideas.  Throughout the conversation, I refer to their ideas by name, "Julia had the idea to... and now how about...."

Once students have come to a consensus on a planting and measuring strategy, they begin planting and labeling the seeds.  There are some adorable labels I am including here, too, adapted from some ideas on Pinterest!

Closing: Harvest

5 minutes

The closing today includes planting the seeds and also reflecting in Science Journals.  The Next Generation Science Standards call for students to think like scientists.  I know many of us in the past have planted seeds and had students record the growth in journals.  The Next Gens take these activities a step further by having students design the investigations.  This not only provides students with a chance to become problem-solvers, but it also increases engagement as they own the activities.  There is also a mathematical component that I know my previous journals never fully explored.  Sure, we noted how the plants grew, but interpreting data was not my priority.  It is now!  

Planting seeds can be a management nightmare with soil *everywhere*!  To prevent this, I have all students reflect in their Science Journals about the investigation planning process.  They glue in and write to answer, "Why do scientists plan investigations?  Will our investigation answer our questions?"  Then, I call over a few students at a time to our classroom sink area to plant the seeds.

Here's another suggestion for management during planting.