Grade 1. The Discovering Plants Unit Kit includes a Teacher’s Guide, a prepaid coupon for living materials, and enough supplies and apparatus for a class of up to 24 students. During the unit, students discover what plants need to live and grow. Each young scientist plants a bean seed and the entire class plants and tends a class garden. Throughout the unit, they carefully uproot the plants to see and record what’s happening underground. The focus is on general plant similarities and differences, especially for the varieties in the class garden. Students also compare a pine seedling to their garden plants. Learning opportunities grow like weeds as students compare sprouting seeds, count emerging leaves, measure stem growth, and watch flowers unfold and seedpods develop. The unit concludes with students setting up simple experiments in the class garden to find out how light, water, and other growing conditions affect plant growth and health.
The Discovering Plants unit addresses the following standards:
Next Generation Science Standards
Disciplinary Core Ideas
LS1.A: Structure and Function
LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
LS1.D: Information Processing
LS3.A: Inheritance of Traits
LS3.B: Variation of Traits
- Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
- Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
Common Core State Standards
- Structure and Function
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Diversity of Life
- Some animals and plants are alike in the way they look and in the things they do, and others are very different from one another.
- There is variation among individuals of one kind within a population.
- Offspring are very much, but not exactly, like their parents and like one another.
Cells Magnifiers help people see things they could not see without them. Most living things need water, food, and air.
Interdependence of Life Animals eat plants or other animals for food and may also use plants (or even other animals) for shelter and nesting.
Flow of Matter and Energy Plants and animals both need to take in water, and animals need to take in food. In addition, plants need light.
Lesson 1: What Is a Seed?
Students begin by observing a variety of seeds and pose questions about what might make them germinate. They set up simple experiments to try to find out if seeds need water, light, heat, soil, or a combination of those ingredients to begin growing.
Lesson 2: Planting the Community Garden
Students analyze their experimental results in order to make conclusions about what triggers germination. Working in teams, students set up the community garden, tend to the needs of the plants, report observations, and record new questions as they arise.
Lesson 3: Planting Our Own Bean Seeds
In Lesson 3, students plant their bean seeds. They make predictions about what they expect will happen, and they prepare to tend their individual plants and follow them through the complete life cycle. Over time, students observe and record germination and leaf and stem growth, as well as flowering and seedpod development.
Lesson 4: Tending and Observing the Community Garden
Students share observations they have made while tending the community garden. Based on their observations, they begin to develop questions to investigate about plant growth and development.
Lesson 5: What Are Roots?
By this point in the unit, the plants in the community garden have emerged above ground, and students uproot them to see what is happening below ground. They observe the roots with hand lenses, discuss their function, and follow up by going outdoors to examine tree roots in nature and test their function as anchors.
Lesson 6: Our Plants Grow and Change
As students’ bean plants develop over time, students record leaf and stem growth, as well as flowering and seedpod development. They also take multiple measurements of plant height and use that data to construct a growth graph. All of these observations will be consolidated in the Bean Book at the end of the unit.
Lesson 7: What Do Plants Need?
In Lesson 7, a story sets the stage for more experiments. Students learn how too much water, not enough water, no light, and animal activity can affect plants. They set up simple experiments in the community garden to find out for themselves how environmental conditions cause changes in plant growth and health.
Lesson 8: Big Trees and Little Trees
Lesson 8 introduces a pine tree seedling. Students observe the pine seedlings and then compare the seedlings with an illustration of a mature pine tree. Students identify the parts of each plant and discuss the function of each part. They go outdoors to look for both young and mature trees and to observe how animals use the trees.
Lesson 9: The Life Cycle of a Bean Plant
In the culminating lesson, students make use of their own data to describe the life cycle of the bean plant. They reinforce the concepts by putting the stages of the life cycle into the correct sequence. After examining all their work products, students reflect on their experiences with plants. They assemble their Bean Books, design covers for them, and take both the Bean Books and the plants home to share their experiences.