Science Activities for Young Children: Plant Unit

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This lesson plan is a fun and delicious way to introduce your child to the study of botany. In this unit your child will learn about plant needs, the parts of a plant, edible plants and a little bit about how plants use their parts. This unit is broken down into four lessons and activities, which follow.

Plant Needs Experiment

A good place to begin is with the basics that a plant needs to survive: water, soil, space, sun and air. Below is a video with a fun song to help kids remember those needs. To introduce the days lesson ask your child, "What do you think a plant needs to survive?" If you've already covered it, remind your child what animals need to survive. Ask, "Will plants need all the same things?" Explain that the experiment you will be working on will explore what a plant can and can not live without.

For this experiment you will need three containers, a small box, cotton balls and three bean seeds. Place cotton balls in each container. Label the containers 1, 2 and 3. The first container will be your control and will receive both light and water. Wet the cotton balls and place the container in a sunny location.

The second container will be deprived water. Place it in the same sunny location as the first but remember not to water it.

The third container will be deprived light. Wet the cotton balls and place the third container in the box closing the lid over the container.

Over the next several days have your child monitor the seeds. Add water to containers one and three as needed. And remind your child to try to let in as little light as possible when monitor the third seed.

Hopefully your first seed will sprout and show green leaves. Your second seed should not sprout. Your third seed should sprout but produce only yellow sickly leaves. Discuss with your child what this experiment tells you about the needs of plants.

Plant Needs Song

Parts of a Plant Science Project

"We know the names of our parts, but what do we call the parts of a plant?" This or a similar question will get the days lesson started. (Feel free to start this lesson before the conclusion of the previous experiment as it will take several days.) Help your child identify any parts they already know and tell them the parts they might not yet know.

To reinforce what they are learning help your child "construct" her own plant. You will need a paper towel tube, construction paper, scissors, tape or glue and pipe cleaners. (A hole punch would be helpful.)

  • Have your child cover the tube in green paper and explain that this will be the plants stem.
  • Have your child cut out oval shapes from green and another colored construction paper. Attach the green ovals along stating that these will be the plants leaves. Attach the other colored paper to the top of the stem stating that these will be the plants petals.
  • Punch holes in the bottom of the stem. Have your child attach the pipe cleaners through these holes and explain that these are the plants roots.

Save your child's "plant" and you will be able to use it in the discussion of how the plant uses its parts.

Edible Parts of Plants

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Optional Art Project

As an additional art project to aid your students understanding have them create an edible parts of plants collage like the one above.

You will need a large piece of construction paper or poster board, a sharpie marker, food magazines (or preprinted images of vegetables), scissors and glue.

  1. Divide the construction paper (or poster board) into four quadrants and label each quadrant: flower, stem, roots and leaves. Pencil is fine, then you child can add decorative letters later.
  2. Allow your child to cut and sort a variety of vegetable pictures. Assist as needed. Glue down the pictures after you have checked their placement.
  3. Add fancy letters and whatever other finishing touches your child would like.

Edible Plants Project

This is one of the more delicious science lessons, but it does require more preparation. You will need the following materials:

  • broccoli or cauliflower
  • celery
  • carrots
  • lettuce, preferably a variety that looks more typically leaf like

Start by asking your child, "What parts of the plant do you think we eat?" After you've determined what your child already knows or can deduce start getting specific.

What flowers do we eat? If your child comes up with a different but correct answer praise them and then provide them with the flower they will be eating today - the broccoli or the cauliflower.

What plant stems do we eat? Again praise your child for any correct answer and gently correct any misconceptions. Provide your child with the celery you procured.

What plant roots do we eat? This might prove a little trickier so have your carrot ready.

Finally, what plant leaves do we eat? This question might prove a little easier and it is always nice to end on a positive note with lots of praise. Provide your child with the lettuce and enjoy your salad together.

Parts of the Plant Revisited

Go back to the plant model your child created and review the names of the plant parts. Ask your child, "What does the plant use these parts for?"

  • Roots collect water and nutrients from the soil.
  • The stem carries that water to the rest of the plant.
  • The leaves turn the sunlight into plant food.
  • The flowers attract bees and other pollinators so that there will be more plants.

End your less by potting your healthy bean sprout and review the five needs of plants and how potting and watering the plant then putting it in a sunny location will provide those needs. You child now has a very basic understanding of botany.

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