Plants Secrets

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SWBAT describe connections between parts of the plant life cycle as they determine that young plants are alike, but not identical, to their parents.

Big Idea

Shhh! Plants have secrets inside... come and see what they are...

Instructional Notes

In this lesson, students are working towards mastery of NGSS standard 1-LS3-1.  Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents

While we continue to watch our seedlings change every day and become adult plants, we also read a text today that helps students observe (second-hand) how plants change throughout their life cycle. 

Today's text is a nonfiction book called Plant Secrets by Emily Goodman.  I use the concept of a secret to maximize student engagement throughout!

After reading, I display images of the young and adult plants side-by-side with a Venn diagram and ask, how are young plants like their parents?  How are the different from their parents?  Students then complete a foldable formative assessment.

Warm-up: Planting the Seeds

5 minutes

In today's warm-up, I connect to our Jack and the Beanstalk theme.  In the opening lessons of this unit, we read Jack and the Beanstalk as a class and determined the basic life cycle of a plant.

Friends, when we read Jack and the Beanstalk, we began discussing the life cycle of a plant.  Turn and tell your friend how a plant grows.

Next, I connect to the standards.

Today we will watch as plants change and grow too, looking specifically at how young plants are alike but not exactly alike their parents.

And I make a personal connection that they can all relate to!

People tell me all the time that Mia looks just like me!  Well, she does look a lot like me.  But, she doesn't look exactly like me.  Which of your parents or relatives do you look most like?  Do you look exactly like them, or just a lot like them?

Students will turn-and-talk here to share their personal connections to the concept that offspring look similar but not exactly like their parents.  If you have a population or specific student that this may not work for, it is important to be sensitive to those issues.  I suggest that you show pictures of puppies with an adult dog, or check out other animals in this National Geographic article, Look Alikes?

Exploration: Tending the Garden

30 minutes

In the text Plant Secrets, the author reveals each step in the life cycle as part of a connected process.  For example, the seeds "have a SECRET...Hidden inside each seed is a tiny new plant."  This aligns beautifully to Common Core ELA standard RI 1.3, describing the connections between pieces of information in a text.  It also leads to creation of a life cycle diagrams.  Diagrams are a type of scientific model, and are included as part of Science & Engineering Practice #2!

Before reading, I engage students with a little whispering!  

Psst... friends... I have a secret... do you want to know my secret?  Let's check it out in this book, Plant Secrets.

While reading, I adjust my voice as well.  I read normally, but when the text says a line that a plant phase has a secret, I whisper that sentence!  This keeps children on the edge of their seats to see what the secret is!  I also am sure to point out how the author is a scientist, observing the stages of the plants and even using tools, like a magnifying glass.

While reading, we pause and add each new stage to a life cycle diagram.

Although the book includes many plants, it follows 4 plants extensively: roses, oak trees, peas, and tomatoes.  I facilitate student discussions with one another and the whole group about how the plants change in each stage.  Does the plant look the same?  How is it the same and how is it different?

After reading, I ask students to pick one of the 4 focus plants.  I assign them a partner who has picked the same focus.  In this way, there is student choice and engagement about the focus, rather than having students pick a partner before a focus.

Students take a Venn diagram and a copy of the text.  They write or draw to share ways the young plant and adult plant are similar but not exactly alike.  When possible, I prefer to print Venn diagrams in color to allow students to see the difference and better understand how the graphic organizer is used.  Teachers may also prewrite lines within the sections for students to write on.  Some of my students chose to use magnifying glasses to observe the text in even greater detail.

Closing: Harvest

5 minutes

When I sense that groups are mostly finished, I play a transition song.  Playing a song gives stragglers a chance to finish up, allows time for returning the books, and gives children a chance to stretch their legs as well.

When we meet back on the rug, I have each group share out one way that their focus plant was similar to, but not exactly alike an adult plant.  Part of the NGSS standards and the Common Core standards is obtaining and communicating information (the Common Core calls it speaking and listening).  By sharing observations with one another, students are able to practice these crossover skills.