Marshland Plants

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SWBAT identify several plants that are common to the marsh habitat, and talk about how these might provide shelter for animals living there

Big Idea

Plant life is as diverse as animal life. Realizing that some plants do better in one habitat than another is important for understanding diversity

Teacher Background

"A marsh is a type of wetland, an area of land where water covers ground for long periods of time. Unlike swamps, which are dominated by trees, marshes are usually treeless and dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants. 

Herbaceous plants have no woody stem above ground, and they grow and die back on a regular cycle. Herbaceous plants can be annuals (which grow anew every year), biennials (which take two years to complete their life cycle), or perennials (which take more than two years to complete their life cycle.)

Both saltwater and freshwater tidal marshes serve many important functions: They buffer stormy seas, slow shoreline erosion, offer shelter and nesting sites formigratory water birds, "

This lesson includes a link to a virtual field trip tour through the salt marsh to view the plants found there. If you have access to a salt marsh, it would be ideal to collect samples of the plants and bring them into the classroom for the children to study. 

I Can Statement

5 minutes

I tell students that today we will take a virtual field trip to the salt marsh and also have a chance to look at some of the plants found there. 

I ask them to read the I Can Statement with me. Choral reading helps those who may struggle to work through the difficult words. We read, "I can identify at least 1 plant from the salt marsh and tell something special about it."


15 minutes

I want students to see what a marsh looks like and what types of plants they might find there. It would be ideal to take them on an actual field trip to view the marsh, but because I am unable to do this, I have decided to take them on a virtual tour. 

I explain to students, "today we will take a virtual tour of the salt marsh. We will pay special attention to the plants that are found there. After the video we will look more closely at some of the pictures of these plants (and if you can obtain some actual plants you can also let students handle the plants to help them see how these plants adapt to the salty conditions of the salt marsh).

I project the following video on the Smart Board and read the captions to students as we work through the virtual trip.

After the video I ask students, "what kinds of things did you notice in the salt marsh?" I make a list on the board of the things that we noticed. 

"I have some pieces of cord grass which is found in the marsh for you to look at today. I would like you to return to your seats so you can each have a piece to study."  (this can be done with pictures if needed)

Plant Study

15 minutes

"I am going to give each of you a piece of cord grass, or another salt marsh plant to study. I would like you to record what you notice in your journals.plant journal.pdf Remember that a good scientist uses his/her eyes to carefully observe things and record what they notice. You might want to use pictures to show what you notice and label your pictures as you go. It is ok to break the piece of cord grass open to see what is inside. I will give you each a magnifying glass to help you look more closely at your grass."

I ask for questions and then hand each student a piece of grass and a magnifying glass. I give them about 10 minutes to look at the grass and record their findings. Intent on the Plant I circulate around the room asking students to tell me what they are noticing and to remind them to record their findings. Plant Journal Filled In

Discussing Our Findings

10 minutes

I ask students to take their grass and magnifying glasses to the center table and then to bring their journals to the rug.

"Now that we have all had a chance to study the grass from the salt marsh, I would like each of you to tell one thing that you noticed. We will use the ball as our talking stick. We will pass the ball around the circle and you may share 1 thing you noticed. If you don't have anything new, you may say that you found the same thing as someone else and repeat what it was."

Each student shares out one thing about the grass. At the end I ask, "Do you think this grass has some special things that help it to survive in salty water?" I let students talk about the hollow stem and other things they might think help it to survive. "We have talked about how animals have to have the right things to survive in their habitat, but plants do too. Do you think that all plants can survive in salty water?" 

"Would this be a good experiment for us to do?" If there seems to be interest in this experiment, I will take the next science lesson to build upon this interest and have students design an experiment to test our hypothesis.