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McREL Standards Activity

To Grow a Plant

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will understand that plants need a combination of resources to survive and grow.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
 Standard 6.Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment
   Level I [Grade K-2]
   Benchmark 1. Knows that plants and animals need certain resources for energy and growth (e.g., food, water, light, air)
 Standard 12.Understands the nature of scientific inquiry
   Level I [Grade K-2]
   Benchmark 1. Knows that learning can come from careful observations and simple experiments
Student Product:Drawings of observations and conclusions
Material & Resources:
  • Plant seeds (see Note to Teacher)
  • Potting soil
  • Pots (e.g., flats, milk cartons, plastic soda bottles), 3 per group plus extras
  • Drainage trays (several large ones for entire class or small ones for each group)
  • Water
  • A sunny spot (e.g., a window)
  • A dark place (e.g., a closet)
  • Masking tape
  • Permanent markers or pens
  • Construction paper
  • Crayons or markers
Teacher's Note:
  • Choose seeds of a plant that are relatively easy to grow, such as squash (e.g., pumpkin, zucchini), radishes, or carrots.
  • You may wish to have students provide their own pots.
Students should work in groups of two or three.  Students will keep a record of their observations by drawing pictures; if desired, they can also keep track of the number of days that have passed at each point.

Each group needs three pots; they should write their name on masking tape and place it on each of the pots.  Explain to students how to plant their seeds (e.g., gently pack soil, how deep to place seeds).  Students should then plant their seeds (2-3 per pot), place the pots on a drainage tray, and water them well.  Prepare several spares in case some do not germinate (or have students prepare extras).  Place the pots with their trays in a bright location.  Students should now draw their first picture of their plants; they should indicate somewhere that it is the first drawing (or the first day).  Students should water the soil regularly, keeping it moist but not over-saturated, until seedlings fully emerge.

Explain to students that they are now going to experiment with the "baby plants" to see what they need to keep growing.  Have students offer suggestions as to what they might need and what might happen if the plants don’t get those things.  Students should then get into their groups and get their plants.  They will be experimenting with two things:  water and light.  One plant will receive water and light, another will receive water but no light, and the last will receive light but no water.  Have students label their pots according to the treatment they will receive.  Now they need to draw a picture of each plant as it looks at the beginning of the experiment; explain the importance of labelling them well so that they know which is which.  Also, make sure students number the drawings so as to keep track of the time sequence (or note the day).  They should then place the plants in the appropriate location in the room.  Over the next several weeks, they should continue to water the "water & light" plant, as well as the plant in the dark.  They should not water the other plant in the light.  Have the students draw pictures of the plants once or twice during this time, and again at the very end.

After drawing their final observations, have students summarize their results with a drawing and/or text; they should simply indicate their understanding that plants need water and light to keep growing and stay healthy.  Follow with a class discussion that highlights additional needs of plants (e.g., nutrients, temperature requirements), as well as the needs of other organisms, particularly animals.