What's Inside a Seed?

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SWBAT identify that seeds have baby plants growing inside by dissecting a Lima Beam seed.

Big Idea

Did you know that inside a seed is a baby seed leaf? That seed leaf is covered with a protective seed coat and when given food, water and air they grow into an adult plant.

Setting the Stage:

National Science Education Science Standards Connection:

The National Science Education Standards has said that making observations is key to inquiry-based and discovery-focused learning in science instruction. In order to do this students participate in inquiry-based learning that allows them to solve a problem in science through observation, discourse and using a science journal. Students will then be give a chance to share their findings with their peers and then reflect on their own understanding.

Next Generation Science Standards Connection:

In this unit my students learn that plants can reproduce and have behaviors that help their seeds to grow and survive.  They observe the similarities and differences between adult plants and their offspring and record their evidence in their science journals. They also will identify that plants have external parts that help them survive in nature and then use that information to help them solve a human problem by mimicking plants. This is called Biomimicry - bio: life, mimicry - to copy. To learn more about Biomimicry check out this Ted Talks.

In this next three lessons my students will plant seeds in order to determine that young plants are like their parents. In this lesson my students explore seeds and identify that seeds are baby plants. 
They learn that all plants come from seeds and as they grow they will resemble their parent.

Classroom Structures:

In order to support a high level of student discourse within my science lessons I have assigned two different student partnerships.  Turn and Talk Partners are discourse partners that work together to share the deep thinking that happens throughout the day.  Workshop Partners are partners who are matched together for the purpose of working during our independent times.  In this lesson students will be engaged in both partnerships.

Vocabulary Cards:

These cards include the vocabulary that it important for this unit on plant life.  The standards covered by this unit are 1-LS1-1, 1-LS1-2, 1-LS3-1. You can choose to use these cards in different ways. I like to print all vocabulary words on card stock and hang them on my science bulletin board as a reference tool throughout the unit. You can also use these cards as flashcards or a concentration matching game.


KLEWS - How do plants survive and grow?

Seed Journals

Lima beans

Class set of Lima Beans (soaked in water over-night)

Seed Diagram

Science Journals:  I just use blank paper in my journals so my students have space and freedom to experiment with graphic organizers, illustrations, etc.

Science Journal Prompt: How do seeds grow and survive?


15 minutes

A KLEWS anchor chart is described as a tool that allows students to track their learning throughout an investigation, building up to the understanding of a scientific principle. Our KLEWS chart will track the learning about the plants for our next lessons.

Boys and girls, let's look at our KLEWS chart. Let's reread our over-arching question: What are the structures of plant and how do they help plants grow? 

In our last lesson we learned that seeds come in different shapes, sizes and colors. Our Evidence is: Some seeds are big, small, brown, white and black.

Today we are going to investigate seeds a little further.  We know that a seed is a baby plant but have you ever wondered what is inside of a seed?  How does this seed grow?  How does this seed survive?  

I show my students a Lima Bean and ask them make a prediction about what is inside of this seed.  My students signal that they have predictions with a thumbs up.  I send my students off to record their prediction in their seed journals.  I ask that my students record the date and label each journal page: Lima Bean


25 minutes

The NGSS ask that students use models in their investigations as well as plan and carry out investigations.  In this lesson we dissect seeds! What could be more fun?

Prep work: I soak a class set of Lima Bean seeds over-night so they are ready for dissection.


In order to begin this lesson I remind my students that we are in the science lab and set the stage for serious science work. I give each child a Lima Bean seed, a magnifying glass and a tray.  We begin by observing the seed. They use their magnifying glasses to look closely at the bean.  I ask them questions like: What shape do you see?  How does it feel?  What do you notice about its color and size?

Recording Observations:

I ask my students to place their Seed Journals in a spot for easy recording. They draw a line under the prediction that they made in the Engage section.  I ask them to record (write and draw) their observations under the line on the same page as the prediction. 


This is a guided dissection and it is done in small parts. While they are dissecting their seed, I am modeling the process using my projector and document camera.

1 - I ask my students to start by peeling off the outer shell of the seed and placing it to the side. 

2 - I ask my students to very, very, very gently squeeze the edges of the seed until it splits in half.  Some children may need help with this step. It is important that they don't ruin the baby plant growing inside. I point out where the food is stored for the baby plant as well as the root and leaf growing inside.

3 - My students record what they see in their Seed Journal.

As my students are observing and recording, I walk around and observe who is drawing(I am not worried about them labeling the parts at this point) the different seed parts: 

*seed coat - outer shell of the seed

*seed leaves - inside the seed

*seed roots - inside the seed


10 minutes

I bring my students together to share their observations. After the students have had time to share I show them this video about the inside of a seed and how seeds grow. 

After the video, I ask my students to go back to their Seed Journals and label the parts of the Lima Bean seed:




*Seed coat

Boys and girls you learned that seeds look different but they all have a seed coat and inside of a seed is the start of a baby plant. Inside of every seeds you will find the start of a baby seed. You will see the root and a leaf.  You also see a thick layer of food that provides nutrients to the baby plant as it starts to grow.  The seed coat is the outside of a seed and its job is to keep the seed safe. Please label the parts of your seed in your seed journal


15 minutes

Science and Engineering practice 8 requires our students to obtain, evaluate and communicate information. By students sharing their evidence and explaining results students are allowed to engage in scientific reasoning. My students share their Seed Journals with their peers. I bring them back together and I record the following on our KLEWS chart:

Evidence - We noticed that seeds have a hard outside and the insides all have the start of a plant.

Learned - All seeds have a seed coat and the inside of a seed is the start of a baby plant.

For this next part of the elaborate section, my students use the pea pods from our lesson: Seeds, Seeds and More Seeds

Boys and girls during the Germination of a seed the seed coat comes off & the roots poke out to get nutrients from the soil.  Let's see if we can observe this happening with our pea seeds?

Each child removes their seed from the window and using a magnifying glass, observes the germination process beginning. Many students observe the seed coat coming off and the roots beginning to peak out.

I ask my students to record this in their Seed Journal. They label this page with Pea Pod and the date.


10 minutes

The Science and Engineering Practice 4 asks students to analyze data. At the K-2 level this involves students collecting, recording, and sharing observations. In this lesson the students are recording information, thoughts and ideas in their science journals. I send my students back to their science journals and ask them to write the answer to our big question: How do seeds grow and survive?

As my students work, I listen for my students to write about the seed coat, the food, water, sunlight and air.  This lesson will support the work in our next lesson on plants.