Who's Your Plant Parent?

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SWBAT identify that baby plants resemble adult plants by observing live plants and photographs.

Big Idea

Did someone say baby plant? In this lesson we observe our own plants to discover the answer to this big question: How are plants like their parents?

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 order to teach this lesson, be sure the seedlings have grown enough for students to observe and compare to adult plant photographs.

In the lesson What Do Plants Need?, my students planted seeds in order to determine that young plants are like their parents. In order to teach this lesson you will need to wait until those seedlings have sprouted leaves. In this lesson my students observe these seedlings and compare them to photographs of their parent plants. 

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.


Book: One Bean by Anne Rockwell

KLEWS Anchor Chart - How do plants survive and grow?

Seedlings: Marigolds, Sunflowers, Painted Daisies, Pole Bean Seed, bulbs

Images of adult plants

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 are baby plants like their parents?


15 minutes

The standard addressed in this unit requires students to make observations to construct an evidence-based account that plants resemble their offspring. 

I start by asking my students, How are you like your parents? We discuss hair color, eye color, and personality.  Then I ask, What are some ways that you are different from your parents?

I read this cute book called, One Bean by Anne Rockwell.

The Common Core Standards for English Language Arts asks that students explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types.  After our read aloud be have a discussion about the book.  I asked questions like:

Do seedlings look like adult plants? What pages prove that?

What part of this book seemed like fiction/nonfiction? What genre is this book? How do you know?

What do you know about baby plants? adult plants?

After our discussion, I show my students a KLEWS anchor chart that will collect all the information we learn about plants in this unit.  I read the questions we will investigate: How do plants grow and survive?

Today we will continue to investigate this question: How are baby plants like their parents?


25 minutes

The NGSS asks that my students plan and carry out investigations so in order for my students to observe that plants are very much, but not exactly, like their parents we plant vegetable plants, flower plants and bulbs. We will observe these plants and some will be transplanted into our school garden.


We get to observe our seedlings!! For this investigation my students will observe the seedlings we planted in our previous lesson. They will be given a photograph and asked to find that baby plant by looking at the leaves, vines, and other characteristics.  Once the plant is found each student will compare those seedlings to photographs of the adult plants and record how the two plants are similar on their Investigation Worksheet - Baby Plants. They can repeat this as many times as time allows.

The seedlings we planted this year: Marigolds, Painted Daisies, Sunflowers, bean plants, pea seeds, lettuce, cucumber, tulips

Images of adult plants

As my students observe and record their findings in their Investigation Worksheets - Baby Plants, I walk around and confer with each student naming and noticing the smart thinking happening. Conferring is the process of listening and recording the work the student or students are doing and then compliment the work. As I listen, I research a teaching point and then work to provide clarification through questioning, modeling and re-teaching. I refer back to our question:  How are baby plants like their parents?


10 minutes

The NGSS asks that students communicate and explain information from observations.

Boys and girls, when I go to a greenhouse to purchase plants, many times I buy the seedlings.  It is very easy for me to find tomato seedlings because the seedling's leaves look just like the adults, just smaller. It is the same thing for bean plants, raspberry bushes and strawberry plants. In fact, it is the same for all plants.  Let's look at this slideshow! 

In the explain section I ask my students to share how they were able to match the parent plant to the seedling. I listen in on their conversations for any new understandings. I listen for the following: 

Leaf shape

Leaf color


Stems shape

Stems color

I record these on an anchor chart title (12x18 construction paper): Tricks for finding matching plant parents!



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 - Bean plants have leaves that are the same as the seedling.  Peas have vines like parent plants.  Tulips seedlings are tall just like the adult plants.

Learned - Plants are very much, but not exactly, like their parents.


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 are baby plants like their parents?

I look for answers that have big ideas like:

*Baby plants and adult plants have the same leaves. 

*Baby plants have vines like adult plants.

*Baby plants and adult plants both have tall stems.

*Baby plants and adult plants both have bark on their tree trunks.