From Seed to Plant...The Life Cycle of a Plant

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SWBAT identify the parts of a seed the contribute to a plant's growth and development.

Big Idea

Students will create a diagram that illustrates the life cycle 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 participate in distinguishing 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, discover that plants use the sun' energy to produce food for themselves, and that it gets transferred within a food chain from producers to consumers to decomposers. 

Lesson Synopsis

In this lesson, From Seed to Plant...the Life Cycle of a Plant,  students are presented with the structures and functions of a seed on a diagram. They then explore these structures by dissecting a seed and locating them. After the seed dissection, I introduce other key terms (germination and sprout) by defining them and explaining that as the embryo in the seed begins to grow, the seed germinates and sprouts into a mature plant.  Then, students apply what they have learned by creating a diagram that illustrates the life cycle of a plant, beginning with the seed.  They write brief descriptions about each part of the process. This assignment is started in class and continued at home for homework. I collect it the next day as a formative assessment.

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-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 From Seed to Plant...the Life Cycle of a Plant 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. In addition, life cycles is a topic students are test on during state standardized testing; therefore,  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 

2.) Developing and Using Models:  Students dissect seeds to locate the parts that protect the plant an generate growth.  They use their experience in the investigation to create diagram a that illustrates and describes the life cycle of the plant.

Crosscutting Concepts

The From Seed to Plant...the Life Cycle of a Plant will correlate to other interdisciplinary areas.  These Crosscutting Concepts include:

6.) Structure and Function:  Students create a diagram and use it describe the stages of a plant's life cycle.


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.


10 minutes

Setting the Purpose

I begin by saying, "Yesterday we discovered how a flowering plant makes seed.  Who can recall the name of this process?  How is done?"  I ask volunteers to walk us through the process.  They share seeds are made through the process of pollination, where pollen unites with an egg, fertilize, and create a seed. There response indicates they know how a seed is made.

Then I ask the question: "Since we know how a seed is made, how do you think that seed grows?" I listen to a few students share their thoughts, all which focus on previous lesson concepts. "Well , if you plant it in the ground, give it water, air, and sunlight, it should grow."

While they understand the basic needs of a plant, I pose the question: "What do you think is inside this seed?" but don't seek out an answer yet.  I say to them, "We are going to examine the inside of two kinds of seeds to locate some parts that are important to its life cycle.

Pre-Teaching Vocabulary

At this point, I hand out a Parts of a Seed Chart graphic organizer that briefly identifies and summarizes the internal parts of a seed.  We read and review this graphic organizer together, noting key details and adding them to their graphic organizer.  I tell them it is important to have accurate details to help them identify and understand the parts of the seed as we prepare to begin a seed dissection.  They are using this graphic organizer as a reference sheet.


30 minutes

Seed Dissection- Guided Inquiry

I begin stating that they are dissecting dissect two seeds to examine the parts that helps a plant begin its life cycle. 

I ask the lab rats material manager to retrieve their supply tray, which consists of a monocotyledon, dicotyledon, hand lenses, and small plate.  Once all groups have a supply tray, I hand out a recording sheet to students and direct students attention to me and hold up two sided hand-out. I walk them through the procedure outlining the directions. Their overall task is to observe and dissect a dicotyledon (lima bean) seed They are comparing the the dry seed coat to a soaked one relating observations to specific properties related to texture, shape, size, appearance, and color. They are writing and sketching these observations on their investigation hand-out. When it comes time to dissect the seed, I remind them to use the hand lens to see the different seed parts... embryo, endosperm, and cotyledons. Again the are sketching a model of the seed and its parts in the box provided on the handout.  The final task is to write at least 5 observations of the dicotyledon that you dissected.  I instruct them to use sentence starters such as I observed, I noticed, or I saw. Sentence starters has become the expectation throughout the year because developing well written evidence based sentences is an ongoing practice.

Student Led Inquiry

Following the dicotyledon dissection, I tell the students their next dissection is with a monocotyledon seed. I review the backside of the handout which is the same format as the front.  With the monocotyledon, I instruct students to follow the same method as they did with the dicotyledon. Doing this allows me to do more check-ins with students, making sure they are locating specific parts of the seed and assist students who may be struggling.

We reconvene as a whole class to share out observations of their dissection of the monocotyledon seed.


15 minutes

How Does a Seed Grow Into A Plant?

I say to the students, "After finding out the parts of a seed that get this new plant started, lets think about what happens next."  I engage students in a turn and talk and ask them to discuss with their group what they think happens after a seed is planted. I circulate the room, listening to conversations.

After a few minutes I reconvene the class and ask students to share out their ideas: "the seed opens up and starts to grow different parts" ..."I think the roots grow so the plant can stay in the ground, then other parts like the stem and leaves grow." ... "I bet the water and sun help the seed wake up and grow."

At this point I hand out a bag of cards displaying the words seed, germination, sprout, grow, mature plant, and pollination/fertilization.  These cards only define each word.  I ask them to work as a group to arrange the cards in a sequenced way to display the order the plant grows.  As groups take a minute to do this, I pass by groups and note their arrangements. Students appear to quickly grasp the meaning as their displays are accurately organized.  I pull them back together to check in on the arrangements. I call on students to start us off by identifying a plants starting point.  Most students start with the seed. Other students share internal parts of the seed from our earlier investigation of seeds.


10 minutes

Applying What We've Learned

Once our class discussion wraps up on the life cycle of a plant, I hand out a bag of cards to each student. (They are not in any particular order.) Then I hand out a circle template to students and say, "Now we are going to take what we have learned today from parts of a seed to the stages in a plant's growth and development and create a diagram of a plant's life cycle.  You are using the words seed, germination, sprout, grow, mature plant, and pollination/fertilization to organize the order of your diagram. These words and descriptors are on the cards in your bag. Then you are making an illustration to represent that stage of a plant's growth and development. Following the illustration, you are writing a brief explanation of each stage in the life cycle."  

As students begin working, I am circulating the room and monitoring their work.  I am looking for students to include information about a seed being dispersed by wind, water, and/animals and having information about the stored food it contains for it to start growing. As they move onto the second stage, germination, students should include information about the embryo inside of the seed (new plant) that begins to grow under the right conditions. The illustration should show roots are the first to develop, so they can anchor the plant to the ground. Their depiction of the stage sprout, should include more roots growing downward into the soil, and a stem and leaves appearing and growing towards the light. They move to drawing and noting growth where more structures appear and leaves are making food for the plant. Their next image should show a mature plant, a fully grown plant with flowers or cones are on it. And for the last stage, the plant, should relate to pollination and fertilization.  

Students continue working until finished or the bell. If students do not finish, it is assigned as homework or can be continued the next day.


plant life cycle