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Seeds and Flower Families Lesson

Updated on May 18, 2019
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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 8.

Middle School Biology Lesson on Seeds and Flower Families (Botany)
Middle School Biology Lesson on Seeds and Flower Families (Botany)

This is the 4th lesson in a series of 32 hands-on lessons covering middle school biology. This lesson covers the seeds and flower families. I used this plan while teaching a 55 minute middle school biology class. Each lesson plan includes homework assignments and a variety of hands-on activities to make each lesson engaging & memorable. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, homeschool, after-school program, or co-op!

These lessons are written for a class that meets once a week. If your class meets 5 days a week, simply do this lesson one day a week and use the homework assignments (at the bottom of the page) for the work for the other days of the week.

Botany Scavenger Hunt Homework
Botany Scavenger Hunt Homework

Homework Review

1. Ask students to take out their specimens from their botany scavenger hunt homework if they brought them to class. (Some students took photos & messaged them to me.)

  • Tally up the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place winners who earned the most points from the hunt and allow them to select a prize.
  • Give everyone who participated in the botany scavenger hunt a small prize.
  • Have everyone select one item they thought was interesting, hold it up, & say what it is.

You will need:

  • at least 3 large prizes (such as a potted herb or flowering plant and a candy bar)
  • a smaller prize for each other student (such as seed packets and a smaller piece of candy)

2. Go over the homework questions from the book. (I give out tickets for students who volunteer to answer the questions.)

Observing and drawing dissected seeds
Observing and drawing dissected seeds

Dissecting Monocot & Dictot Seeds

3. Have children dissect, observe, & draw seeds.

  • Pass out to each student magnifying glass, dried popcorn kernel, soaked popcorn kernel, dried bean, & soaked bean. Also have some kitchen knives or pocket knives available.
  • Have children draw the seeds and compare the dried vs. the soaked seeds.
  • Have them cut open the soaked popcorn kernel using a knife and then draw what is inside.
  • Have them use their fingernails to split open the soaked bean seed and then draw what is inside.
  • How are they the same? How are they different?
  • Make sure students can identify the parts of their seeds including the hilum (the "belly button" of the seed where it had been attached to the mother plant)

You will need per student or pair of students:

  • magnifying glass
  • paper towel, napkin, or plate
  • dried popcorn kernel & soaked popcorn kernel (soaked in water for 1 day) (or other monocot seed)
  • dried bean seed & soaked bean seed (soaked in water for at least 1 day*) (or other dicot seed) *After it swells, store it in the refrigerator to avoid bad smells.
  • knives (can be shared by groups of children)

Germinating pumpkin seeds
Germinating pumpkin seeds

Germination

5. Quickly discuss the process of germination and the parts. Show an example of a germinating seed if you have one.

  • Seed Coat/Testa = coat surrounds it
  • Endosperm = stored food for energy
  • Radicle = root system
  • Plumule = tiny shoot = stem & “leaves” but not true leaves = means feather in Latin (Just like babies aren’t born with teeth, plants aren't "born" with true leaves.)
  • Cotyledons = food absorption & storage (becomes first leaves)

You will need:

  • germinating seeds (optional)

Dramatizing Germination
Dramatizing Germination

Dramatize Germination

6. Have a volunteer dramatize germination. (The promise of candy can help to motivate a student to volunteer.

  • Hand the student candy. This is the endosperm (stored food for energy) that the seed will need to grow before it can begin photosynthesis. It really is sugar.
  • Hand the student 2 leaves. These will be the cotyledons (first leaves).
  • Have the student completely crawl into a sleeping bag. This is the testa/seed coat.
  • The student is a dormant seed. Once it gets water [pretend to pour a bottle of water over the sleeping bag] & the right conditions, it starts to grow, or germinate.
  • First the testa (seed coat) splits and the radicle (embryonic root) emerges. (Have the student stick their legs out of the sleeping bag to be the radicle.)
  • In some sorts of seeds, the seed gets its nutrients from the endosperm (stored food). The stored food is mainly sugar. (Have the student eat their piece of candy.)
  • The hypocotyl (embryonic stem) and epicotyl go straight up through the dirt. (Have the student stand up. Their legs are the radicle/root, their body is the hypocotyl/stem, and their hands are the epicotyls, which are holding the cotyledons/seed leaves.)
  • The cotyledons (seed leaves) emerge. (Have the student stick out the 2 leaves from out of the sleeping bag.)
  • The testa/seed coat falls off and the plant grows as the taproot shoots down and the epicotyl straightens. (Have the student stand up all the way and allow the sleeping bag to fall off from the tops of their head.)
  • Give the volunteer another piece of "endosperm" (candy) for helping with the dramatization.

You will need:

  • sleeping bag
  • candy
  • 2 leaves

Differences between monocots and dicots
Differences between monocots and dicots

Angiosperms vs. gymnosperms & Monocots vs. dicots

7. Quickly discuss the difference between angiosperms and gymnosperms and then the difference between monocots and dicots.

Learning about flower families
Learning about flower families

Flower Families

8. If I showed you a picture of a cat, dog, bear, & weasel, would you be able to tell me which one was which? How would you know the difference? Botanists have classified flowering plants by their character traits too. Even though most of us can distinguish between families of animals, most of us probably can't distinguish between many plant families. Let's learn something new!

9. Pass out a sticky note to each student or pair of students.

  • They will need to look up their assigned flower family. On their sticky note, they will write out 1-2 distinguishing traits about that flower family and 2 types of flowers from that family. They will use their textbooks to find this information.
  • After giving them a couple minutes to find the information, go through each family, writing the information the student/pair gives and then verbally adding additional information of interest and showing specimens. (This information is below.) The students should follow along and look at the photos in the book as you go through each family.

You will need:

  • a sticky note for each student or pair of students - on each note I wrote a different flower family: composite, pea, rose, buttercup, mint, honeysuckle, parsley, milkweed, lily, amaryllis, & grass

Examining a Spanish needle composite flower and trying chamomile tea, which is made from a composite flower
Examining a Spanish needle composite flower and trying chamomile tea, which is made from a composite flower

Asteraceae/Composite/Daisy Family

10. Have the first student/pair share what they found about composite flowers.

  • Traits: many small flowers together in a head – disk flowers form center & ray flowers form “petals”
  • Examples: aster, sunflower, daisies
  • Have students look at a composite flower using their magnifying glasses. We studied Spanish needle since the flowers are plentiful right now.
  • Quickly speak through some misconceptions: 1) White asters aren’t daisies. A daisy has 1 flower on a stem & asters have many flowers on the stem. 2) Tickseed/Coreopsis (Florida's state wildflower) isn't a black-eyed Susan. 3) Goldenrod blooms the same time as ragweed, so people blame goldenrod for their allergies. Ragweed is what is to blame.
  • Some flowers are medicinal such as chamomile. Allow students to try chamomile tea.

You will need:

  • composite flowers (such as Spanish needle or asters)
  • magnifying glasses
  • chamomile tea (sweetened with honey and/or sugar) & cups
  • goldenrod (optional)

Examining clover, part of the pea family
Examining clover, part of the pea family

Fabaceae/Pea/Legume Family

11. Have the first student/pair share what they found about the pea family.

  • Traits: compound leaves & the production of fruits known as legumes
  • Examples: sweet peas, wisteria, alfalfa, & clover
  • They are important because they help restore nitrogen to soil, so farmers will plant them in their fields just to add back in the nitrogen.
  • Let students examine clover. They can eat it too, if they wish.

You will need:

  • clover including its roots or other plant from pea family

Apple plants are part of the rose family
Apple plants are part of the rose family

Rosaceae/Rose Family

12. Have the first student/pair share what they found about the rose family.

  • traits: woody stem, fleshy fruit, flowers in multiples of 5
  • examples: garden roses, apples, cherries, peaches, apricots, blackberries, raspberries, almonds
  • Most people think of only garden roses, but most of the fruits you eat and even almonds are in this family. Their blossoms do look like wild roses.
  • Garden roses have been developed by people to have 10, 15, 20, or more petals.
  • Cut an apples each way and point out the parts (shown above). Have a pair for each group of 4 students to examine.

You will need:

  • an apple half cut across the middle and cut lengthwise for each group of 4 students

Ranunculaceae/Buttercup/Crow's Foot Family

13. Have the first student/pair share what they found about the buttercup family.

  • traits: 5 rounded petals (or petal-like sepals) in cup-shaped blossoms, numerous pistils & stamens = bushy cluster or button in center, dry fruits & leaves that divide into 3 main sections
  • examples: buttercup, peony, larkspur (poisonous to animals & humans)

You will need:

  • optional: flowers from this family (which we didn't have as they typically bloom in the spring)

Rolling mint between fingers to smell the mint oil
Rolling mint between fingers to smell the mint oil

Lamiaceae/Mint Family

14. Have the first student/pair share what they found about the mint family.

  • Traits: stems square & stout & flower clusters form spikes
  • Examples: mint, basil, sage, marjoram, thyme, catnip (even lions & tigers attracted to it), & some stinging nettle (if square stem)
  • A pleasant odor caused by oil in leaves & stem (mint) - released when roll between your fingers. Rub herbs (such as mint) on fingers and then smell your fingers.

You will need:

  • mint sprigs or other mint family herb

Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

Caprifoliaceae/Honeysuckle Family

15. Have the first student/pair share what they found about the honeysuckle family.

  • Traits: trumpet-shaped flowers replaced by berries, leaves grow opposite each other
  • Examples: various varieties of honeysuckle
  • Many varieties have a fragrant with a drop of nectar on the stigma. This is what hummingbirds are after. If you remove the flower, you can suck the sweet drop out from the bottom. I was going to let the students do this. I brought some trumpet honeysuckle to our class, but they had withered up by the time class began.

You will need:

  • optional: honeysuckle such as coral honeysuckle (possibly put in water in a refrigerator to keep it from withering)

Wild fennel
Wild fennel

Apiaceae/Parsley Family

16. Have the first student/pair share what they found about the parsley family.

  • Traits: clusters of small flowers arranged in compound umbels (Latin = umbella = umbrella-shaped)
  • Examples: Queen Anne’s Lace, carrots, dill
  • Includes some of the vegetables & herbs we eat: stem of celery, root of parsnips & carrots, & seeds of caraway; dill, coriander, fennel
  • Hemlock & water hemlock are poisonous & can kill a person. It looks similar to Queen Anne’s Lace (which has an impressive 2,000+ individual flowers). A way to tell the difference is that Queen Anne's Lace has darker flowers in the middle.
  • If you have a plant from this family, pass it around. We have wild fennel in our yard, so I passed out branches of it & let the children eat it.

You will need:

  • plant from this family (such as wild fennel)

Asclepias/Milkweed Family

17. Have the first student/pair share what they found about the milkweed family.

  • Trait: stem & leaves leak latex, a milky sap -- which is toxic in some plants
  • Examples: various types of milkweed
  • It's important for many insects, including the monarch butterfly caterpillars.
  • Optional: If you have a milkweed plant, break off a stem to show the milky sap, but do not pass it around as some sap is toxic.

You will need:

  • optional: flowers and/or stems from this family (which we didn't bring -- though I later realized we do have butterfly weed in our yard that I could have brought)

18. We will go over the monocot families in the next class period.

Homework

Page numbers refer to the pages in A Beka's Science: Order & Design.

  • Friday:Mini-report: Research your bizarre plant*, describe it, & include a picture of it (either drawn or printed).
    • Include: the common name, scientific name, location (where it grows), what it looks like, what it smells like (if it smells), and 1-5 interesting facts about it (including why it’s unusual).
    • You can make a chart, write a paragraph about it, make a small poster with the information, create a lapbook, or use some other creative way to share the information.
  • Monday: Photosynthesis & Respiration: Read pp. 54-57 (skipping Check it Out) & answer 3 questions of your choice on p. 57.
  • Tuesday: Find a live flower outside. Draw a detailed picture of it. Include the leaf arrangement & margins. Identify it.
  • Wednesday: Transport System: Read pp. 60-62 & answer 4 questions of your choice on p. 62.

*Bizarre plants were randomly drawn by students before the end of class. They include: Rafflesia Arnoldii, Venus Flytrap, Corpse Flower/Titan Arum, Cape Sundew, Tropical Pitcher Plants, Baneberry, Welwitschia, Hydnora, Dragon Arum, Lithops, Victoria Amazonica, Bladderwort, Snow flower, Skunk Cabbage, Silver Torch Cactus, & Mimosa Pudica

Looking for all my lessons?

© 2018 Shannon

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