Plant Needs

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SWBAT start an experiment that over time will teach them that a plant has basic needs that need to be met to survive.

Big Idea

Students will gain an understanding that in order to grow healthy plants, soil, water, air, and light must be provided.

Setting the Stage

1 minutes

Advanced Preparation:  You will need four healthy plant starts or you can plant your own and have them ready for this lesson.  I always teach this unit in the spring and the starts are readily available.

Through a group discussion the students will create a chart of the things that they think plants need to survive.  They will then set up the plants in 4 different environments and conduct a two week observational experiment.   

Our district expects students to understand that a plant is a system that goes through a natural cycle and the parts help the plant survive and reproduce. By focusing on the parts and needs of a plant, I can teach them how the parts have a role that helps a plant get the things it needs to survive.  The unit will end with the class spending 4 days int eh school garden and applying their learned knowledge to the work being done in the garden.  


Students demonstrate their understanding of Reproduction by…

  • Drawing and labeling the stages of development in the life of a familiar plant.



5 minutes

To start the lesson, I gather the students on the carpet and ask them to sit facing the easel pad.  I engage them with a question about plant needs.  I do this to see what the students already know and to give me an idea of the ability of the group as a whole.

"I want to start today's lesson by asking you a question.  Who can tell me the things that plants need to survive?"

As students share their ideas, I write them down on the chart paper.  

"Now that you have shared your ideas, we are going to conduct an experiment to help us decide exactly what plants need."


20 minutes

Advanced Preparation: 4 plant starts (potted), plastic bag, box, and a spray bottle.

This will be a whole group experiment where we discuss the components and set it up as a class. You could choose to do this as pairs or teams of three but you will need a bit more space and materials.  The experiment will run for two weeks and the students will conduct observations and tasks related to the conditions that each plant is exposed to (every 3-4 days).

"Today we are going to start an experiment.  In front of us we have 4 healthy plants.  As a group, we are going to expose the plants to 4 different living conditions.  I would like you to start by counting off by 4s."

 I then have the students group up by there number.

"Each team will be given 1 plant.  You will label the pot with your group number (using tape and markers) and then place it on the big table.  I would now like you to take out your science notebook and set it up for today's entry.  I want you to set up a four column and 4 row table using your whole page."

I model this setup with the class.  I focus on setting up the table and labeling the columns and rows (Creating a Table & Filling Out Headings).  I model this setup on the first day so that the students will have a model that they can refer to as they replicate it with future observations.

"I now want you to start with your groups plant and fill in the table with details of your observations (video 1 & video 2). You can use a ruler to measure the height, and colored pencils to enhance your pictures."



10 minutes

 I gather them back together as a group and introduce them to the conditions that each plant will be exposed to.  I will make a chart that lists the plant number and the conditions for that plant.    

"We are going to expose each plant to a different set of conditions.  Plant 1 will be put into a plastic bag to eliminate air from getting to the plant.  It will have soil, water, and light.  Plant 2 will be put into a box to eliminate light.  It will have soil, water, and air.  Plant 3 will be left out on the counter but will not be given water.  It will have soil, air, and light.  Plant 4 will be left on the counter and will have soil, air, light, and water."

"We will water the plants (that get water) everyday with a water bottle and we will observe the plants every third day."



5 minutes

"I want to finish today's lesson by having you make a prediction about each plant.  What do you think will happen to them.  Write the plant number, then write your prediction, and explain why you made the prediction that you did.  You will use your science notebook to record these predictions."

 I am asking the students to do this for several reasons.  I want to see if they can identify the importance of plants having water, light, and air.  I also want to see if students can defend their predictions.  


1 minutes

I look through each notebook entry to see if students successfully created a table, filled in the information, and were able to make and defend their predictions.