Plant Kingdom...Basic Structures & Functions of Vascular Plants

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SWBAT identify the basic structures in a plant that help them get the materials they need for growth and development.

Big Idea

Students write an advertisement or want ad for a plant's structure, summarizing its function and how it contributes to the growth and development of a plant .

Lesson Overview

5e Lesson Plan Model

Many of my science lessons are based upon and taught using the 5E lesson plan model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. This lesson plan model allows me to incorporate a variety of learning opportunities and strategies for students.  With multiple learning experiences, students can gain new ideas, demonstrate thinking, draw conclusions, develop critical thinking skills, and interact with peers through discussions and hands-on activities.  With each stage in this lesson model, I select strategies that will serve students best for the concepts and content being delivered to them.  These strategies were selected for this lesson to facilitate peer discussions, participation in a group activity, reflective learning practices, and accountability for learning.

Unit Focus  

The Ecosystems and Interactions unit focuses on students recognizing the interrelationship between organisms and their ecosystems.  It engages students in understanding that organisms have observable characteristics that are fully inherited and can be affected by the climate and/or environment. Students distinguish structures that define classes of animals and plants, and develop an understanding that all organisms go through predictable life cycles. They learn that organisms depend upon one another for growth and development and discover that plants use the sun's energy to produce food for themselves. They observe how the sun's energy is transferred within a food chain from producers to consumers to decomposers.

Lesson Synopsis

In this lesson, Plant Kingdom Basic Structures and Functions of Vascular Plantsstudents read about the basic structures of plants: roots, stems, leaves, and examine several samples of each kind (roots, stems, and leaves). Using a graphic organizer, they note their structure, function, and other details that explain their overall importance for a plant's growth and development. With a whole class guided discussion, they note functions of each structure by creating a foldable where they write a brief summary on each one in their interactive notebook. They use this foldable to as they create a Most Wanted Ad on a randomly assigned structure. They apply what they have learned about the structures and functions of these plant parts by creating an advertisement about one of them.  This assignment is started in class and continued at home for homework.

Next Generation Science Standards  

This lesson will indirectly address and support future lessons on the following NGSS Standard(s): 

2-LS4-1. Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

5-LS1-1. Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.

5-LS2-1. Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.

Why Do I Teach this Lesson and Address This Standard?

I teach the Plant Kingdom Basic Structures and Functions of Vascular Plants lesson because many of my students have very limited background in science since the elementary school's within my district do not formally teach science prior to my students entering the 5th grade (the middle school); therefore, they have not been exposed to earlier grade level NGSS standards or other previous state standards pertaining to animals, plants, other living organisms, and ecosystems.  I find it important to expose my students to parts of these earlier standards in order for them to truly develop a thorough understanding of how matter moves among organisms and developing models to describe how animals' food was once energy from the sun in future lessons. Students take part in inquiry based investigations and apply their evidence to explain justify their thinking. Providing my students the opportunity to practice this type of learning will help to facilitate their scientific thinking for future investigations in any lesson.

Scientific & Engineering Practices

Students are engaged in the following scientific and engineering practices 

4.) Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information: Students read about the basic structures of plants: roots, stems, leaves and to comprehend information about how they function and contribute the growth and development of a plant. They summarize information to explain how they are necessary for a plant to obtain the right nutrients to maintain life.

Crosscutting Concepts

The Plant Kingdom Basic Structures and Functions of Vascular Plants lesson will correlate to other interdisciplinary areas.  These Crosscutting Concepts include:

6.) Structure and Function:  Students observe and identify different substructures of vascular plants that support their function of obtaining air, water, and sunlight to sustain life. 

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Disciplinary Core Ideas within this lesson include:

LS1.A Structure and Function:


Importance of Modeling to Develop Student

Responsibility, Accountability, and Independence 

Depending upon the time of year, this lesson is taught, teachers should consider modeling how groups should work together; establish group norms for activities, class discussions, and partner talks.  In addition, it is important to model think aloud strategies.  This sets up students to be more expressive and develop thinking skills during an activity.  The first half of the year, I model what group work and/or talks “look like and sound like.”  I intervene the moment students are off task with reminders and redirecting.  By the second and last half of the year, I am able to ask students, “Who can give of three reminders for group activities to be successful?” Who can tell us two reminders for partner talks?”  Students take responsibility for becoming successful learners.  Again before teaching this lesson, consider the time of year, it may be necessary to do a lot of front loading to get students to eventually become more independent and transition through the lessons in a timely manner.


30 minutes

Setting the Goal and Expectation 

To begin, I ask a student to read our standards board aloud: "Today we will examine a variety of plant structures: roots, stems and leaves at stations. We will read about their structures and functions that support a plant's growth and development."

Student Led Inquiry-Investigating Structures at Stations

I hand out an investigation packet which has 3 recording templates, one for each station. Then I direct students attention to the station boards: Roots, Stems, Leaves.  I explain that they are reporting to three stations to find out about three major plant structures that support a plant's growth and development over their life. They are drawing the structure, writing about its function, and noting interesting facts about it.  I point out that at the bottom of investigation sheet, they are writing an inference if the particular structure did not exist, how would it impact the growth and development of plant.


At the root station, they are learning about two types of roots, fibrous and taproots and how their structure supports the growth in development of the plant. As they read, they are identifying the main functions of these roots which include, anchoring the plant to the ground, absorbing water and nutrients from the soil, and store extra food.  In addition, they discover that roots also have an important role in keeping the soil in place, holding water, and preventing some erosion. I also included examples of foods that they might eat so they can make the connection that plant structures are important to other living organisms.  My students are astonished at some of the items. They share that they did not know a carrot and beet are roots we eat. Besides reading, I provide them with a samples of roots: some tap roots and some fibrous roots from real plants.  They have a chance to use a hand lense to further examine these structures.  


While at the stem station, students read about two types of stems: herbaceous and woody, and the general function of them.  They note that stems hold a plant upright toward the sun, so the plant can get sunlight to make food for the plant, have leaves, flowers, and/or fruit attached to it, and the xylem and phloem tubes within it transports water, nutrients, and food to the rest of the plant.  While at this station, they examine a variety of stems including celery, asparagus, and flowering plant stem. They are able to identify the xylem tubes which is a term they learned from our vocabulary preview lesson.


During the leaves station, students study the overall function of leaves on a plant. They learn that leaves make food for the plant and oxygen for the air and come in many shapes and sizes, and vary in arrangement on a stem. In general, leaves catch light energy from the sun to make food for the plant. They have tiny openings called stomata, that allow water and air to come and go from the leaf and tube-like structures to bring food and water to the rest of the plant.


15 minutes

Guided Discussion- Whole Class

After reading and examining plant structures and reading about their functions, I engage the class in a guided discussion to review the main functions of each plant structure.  Here we discuss the jobs of the roots, stems, and leaves and how they contribute to the overall growth and development of a plant.  Through our discussion, students share that roots keep a plant in the ground so they can absorb water and nutrients for the rest of the plant.  They continue by sharing the stem keeps a plant up towards the sunlight and acts like a highway system by bringing food, water, and nutrients to the rest of the plant.  

Once we review the basic functions of these structures, I work with students to create a foldable in their interactive notebook about these structures. First, they fold a piece of regular sized paper (8 1/2 by 11) in half.  Then, I ask them to measure the length and divide in thirds by drawing a light line across.  Once the paper is in thirds, I instruct them to draw a plant (any plant they want) and to make sure roots are in the bottom third, stem in the middle third, and leaves in the top third.  After they draw and color their plant, they cut the each section so they create three flaps. I tell them not to cut the bottom paper as they are writing a description about that plant structure  under the flap. Finally, they glue it in their notebook.

plant structure front cover   Plant Structures foldable front cover  plant structure foldable front cover

I am looking for them to summarize their understanding of how each of these structures: roots, stems, leaves, function and contribute to the overall growth and development of a plant.

plant structure foldable inside  Plant structures foldable inside  Plant structure foldable


15 minutes

Applying What We've Learned

To wrap up the lesson, I tell students they applying what they have learned about main structures of a plant by selecting one of the following assignments:

  • Choice 1-Create a Most Wanted advertisements.  Students write up a scenario about a certain structure that has gone missing from a plant.  Based on the missing structure, they are creating a Most Wanted poster to find that missing part and sharing why it is necessary for it to be found.  

 Most Wanted  Most wanted plant structures


  • Choice 2-Create a Job Description advertisement. Students create company that manufactures plants. They are hiring different plant parts so the plants they are making are able to grow, develop, and survive.


Hiring Plant structures

Each of these assignments give them an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding about plant structures and how these structures help a plant function to live.

I give them a choice in assignments to elicit motivation and effort.  Their assignment is started in class and continued as homework.  I am looking to see if students understand the importance of the structures needed for the plant to continue growing and developing.