What Do Plants Need-Part I

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Students will be able to describe what plants need to survive by completing a simple investigation.

Big Idea

What do plants need to survive? Students will be able to draw conclusions about plant needs and begin to compare them to human needs after completing this simple investigation.

Materials and Prep

10 minutes

Materials Needed:

  • What Do Plants Need recording sheet (included as a PDF with this lesson)
  • 12 cups for planting (9 ounce cups work well)
  • potting soil
  • bean seeds or bean seed sprouts saved from Watch It Grow lesson
  • 2 brown paper bags
  • water

**We will be using the sprouts from the Watch It Grow lesson.  If you did not do this lesson, you can easily replace the sprouts with bean seeds.  Make sure to adjust the time needed to complete this lesson as it will take longer for the seeds to sprout.  Adjust the narrative as needed for this lesson if you use seeds instead of sprouts.


5 minutes

To begin this lesson, we sing our favorite song about plants by Dr. Jean.  Written to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, this song gets students up and moving before we focus on our lesson. It also does a great job of reinforcing the different structures of plants.  I ask the students about the function of each when we are done with the song. Repetition with songs like this one really help my ELL students (and all my students!) learn and strengthen vocabulary.


20 minutes

I distribute the prediction sheet to my students and have them write their name at the top.  I then say to them, We just completed our investigation to learn about how a seed germinates.  Now, we are going to plant our seedlings (or seeds) and learn more about how plants grow. 

We are going to move our sprouts to a cup with some soil.  Each group needs to pick the sprout that has grown the most.  You and your partner are going to plant the sprout in a cup.  We will then talk about what we are going to be doing with our plants.

The students are given time to plant their sprouts at the planting station that I set up.  I have them fill the cup about two-thirds full of soil. See video. I then have them carefully press the sprout into the soil so the seed leaves are exposed about the soil line.    Some students will need direction so they do not plant the sprouts upside down.  I take two of the sprouts and put them in cups with only water.  After the students are done, we clean up and prepare to make some predictions.


10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, I distribute the prediction sheet to the students and have them write their name on the top of the sheet. I gather up the plants that the students planted.

  • The plants are going to be put in the following conditions:
  • Plant gets sunlight, soil and water
  • Plant gets sunlight and soil
  • Plant gets water and soil
  • Plant gets sunlight and water
  • I have two of each plant in case there is some type of problem with any of the plants.

I say to the students, we are going to figure out what our plants need to grow. We are going to take one of our plants and put it in a sunlight and make sure it has enough water. Find the first picture of a cup on your recording sheet that represent the first plant that is planted I the soil and has water and sunshine. I want you to draw what you think that plant will look like in one week. 

The students are given time to draw a picture of their prediction. After they have completed that picture, we move on to the next plant. I say to the students, we are going to put this plant by the window, but we are not going to give it any water.  What do you think this plant will look like in a week? Draw a picture of your prediction in the second cup.

The students complete that drawing and I then introduce the next plant. I say to the students, we are going to give this plant water, but we are going to cover it with a paper bag and put it in our storage closet. What do you think this plant will look like after one week? Draw your prediction on your sheet.

For the last plant, I show the students the sprout in the cup with the water. I say to the students, For this plant, we are going to give this plant only water. The seedling is sitting in this cup of water.  We will put it by the sunny window. What do you think will happen with this plant? Again, the students record their predictions by drawing.



5 minutes

To bring the lesson to a close, I say to the students, It is important that scientists talk about their predictions and share their rationale for their predictions.  I want you to get with your Turn and Talk partner and share what you think will happen to each plant.  Make sure you tell why you think that will happen.

I give the students time to talk.  I circulate around the students and listen to their predictions and rational, asking questions to clarify when appropriate.  I then ask a few students to share different predictions for the whole class. After we are done sharing, I collect the students' prediction sheets and save them for when we revisit the plants.