This lesson provides students with the opportunity to observe and describe plants as they grow from seeds.
For each student:
- Pre-soaked lima bean
- Paper towel/plate
- Hand lens
- Sprout and Grow
- Journaling paper
- Nonstandard measures
(e.g., plastic worms)
- Drawing paper
- Camera (optional)
- Sunflower, by David M. Schwartz; ISBN 1-57471-581-X
- Maple Tree, by David M. Schwartz; ISBN 1-57471-556-9
- Plant Leaves, by David M. Schwartz; ISBN 1-57471-328-0
- Plant Blossoms, by David M. Schwartz; ISBN 1-57471-329-9
- Plant Stems & Roots, by David M. Schwartz; ISBN 1-57471-327-2
- From Seed to Plant, by Gail Gibbons; ISBN 0-590-63892-0
- A Tree is a Plant, by Clyde Robert Bulla; ISBN 0-439-45614-2
- Ten Seeds, by Ruth Brown; ISBN 0-375-80697
- How a Seed Grows, by Helene J. Jordan; ISBN 0-06-020185-1
- Sprout and Grow Window, available from www.enasco.com;
Background for Teachers
This activity is designed to provide students with the opportunity to
observe and describe plants as they grow from seeds. It is recommended
that you teach All
Sorts of Seeds! prior to this activity so that students
have had the opportunity to manipulate seeds. Students will also have
the chance to use many process skills throughout this unit. You may
teach the process skills in isolation, earlier in the school year, or
concurrent with this activity (i.e. symbolization, observation, description,
prediction, data collection, investigation, classification, segmentation and
blending, problem solving, forming conclusions).
For this activity, group students in two different ways. They should
be grouped into teams of four to five students. Give each team a name
(e.g., “Team 1” or “Blue Team”). Alternately employ
grouping strategy as well. This requires you to assign each member of
each team a letter. Subsequently, in “Team 1,” you will have Student
A, Student B, Student C, and Student D. To form the jigsaw groups, instead
of the teams, ask students to group by their assigned letter, instead of
team name. So, all “A’s” would become a group, and so on.
|| Student A
|| Student D
Intended Learning Outcomes
5. Understand and use basic concepts and skills.
6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.
Invitation to Learn
Pass out a lima bean (pre-soaked), toothpick, paper-towel/plate and
hand lens to each student. Instruct them to investigate the lima bean
seed. Students may use the toothpick to pry open the cotyledons and
reveal the embryonic plant (root and leaf are visible).
Ask questions to guide student discussion about their investigation.
For example: "What do you notice about this lima bean? How does it
feel on the outside? What does it look like on the inside? What do
you see? Do you know what it is? Do you know what it is called?
Why do you think it is part of the bean/seed?"
Supply scientific vocabulary
as is relevant to the discussion (e.g.,
seed coat, cotyledons [seed food], embryonic root, embryonic seed, etc.).
Students sketch and write about their seed "dissection" in their
- "What will happen if I take one of these seeds and plant it in
some soil?" Use the K-W-L chart to record claims of knowledge
and questions about what will happen. Be sure to use follow-up
questions in response to student statements in order to better
understand what they know and have already experienced. Urge
students to think of questions they might have about how seeds
grow into plants, specifically the lima bean seeds (e.g., How long
will it take to sprout? How tall will it grow to be? How many
leaves will it have?, etc.). It is critical for students to establish
that they would like to plant the seeds and "see what happens" in
order to validate their predictions and answer their questions.
- Plant seeds
in the Sprout and Grow Window.
- Explain to the students that you would like
to support them in
their predictions of what will happen to the seeds. You are also
eager to help them answer the questions they posed about the
future of the seeds. Talk about how scientists often have
questions about nature and what happens with living things in our
world. Tell them that one strategy scientists use to help them test
their predictions and answer their questions is the strategy of
collecting data/information. Pose the question: "As we start to
watch these little seeds, what are some ways we could record
what we are seeing and experiencing?" Students may mention
sketches, journaling, pictures, etc.
- Facilitate the collection of data
by assigning students to teams.
Group students in cooperative teams (e.g., tables) and prepare
them for jigsaw groups by assigning team names and jigsaw
group letters. Explain that every student will have the same job
of observing the plants and recording data. Team members take
turns gathering data daily. For example, Member "A" from each
team will collaboratively gather data on Monday. Each Member "B" gathers
data on Tuesday, and so forth. Assign each team a folder for data collection.
jigsaw groups collect data and share their findings with
their teams each day. Students may use cameras, drawing/journal
paper, hand lenses, nonstandard manipulatives, etc. to record their
- As the teacher, you decide how long this procedure continues.
You may choose to have the students collect data for up to two
- Throughout the duration of the investigation, you may want to
teach some mini-lessons. Base your choice of supplemental
activities on the questions and comments your students come up
with as they gather data and observe the growth of the plants
- At the conclusion of the investigation, invite student teams
review their data and present it in some fashion (e.g., a book that
shows the progressive growth of the plants, a graph that depicts
the number of leaves/height of plants, or the number of days it
took the seeds to sprout, etc.).
- Revisit the K-W-L chart and discuss newfound
- Teach the Seed House activity
as found in the 2003 First Grade
CORE Academy Handbook.
- Expose students to nonfiction books on plants and
cycle. Books like Maple Tree and Sunflower are especially nice
because they have vivid photography that is both stimulating and
informative to young scientists/data recorders.
- Share How a Seed Grows with
your class. As an additional study
of how plants grow, complete the activity described in the book.
- Share books
that talk about plant parts, although it is not a formal
part of the first grade core to teach plant parts and functions.
Since students will be observing plants so closely, sharing books
like Plant Leaves, Plant Stems and Roots, and A Tree
is a Plant will
provide them with a richer schema for thinking about what they see.
living plants in the classroom for students to observe.
Encourage them to compare and contrast different plants. Having
other plants in the classroom provides a springboard for additional
discussions about plant attributes and graphing.
- Integrate this unit with
subtraction practice. Read Ten Seeds.
Challenge students to write subtraction stories to match what is
happening in the story, in word and/or number sentences.
- Using Ten Seeds as a reference, invite students to write their
own stories (both addition and subtraction) using nature as the setting.
Provide them with manipulatives like plastic worms or foam
flowers to help spark their imaginations.
- Have the students complete daily
graphs by answering
questions/collecting data on the topic of seeds and plant growth.
- As jigsaw
groups meet to collect data, interview individual
students to assess gaps in understanding or misconceptions. These interviews
also provide an opportunity to encourage deeper
ideas and expanded knowledge of your advanced learners.
- This lesson has built-in
adaptations. It provides students the
opportunity to work collaboratively and express their thoughts
orally, as well as through pictures and writing.
- Provide scaffolding for
emergent writers by posting the
Seed/Plant Word Wall that you created in the All Sorts of Seeds!
activity. Accommodate for ESL learners by providing
pictures/illustrations next to the words.
- Give students (especially ESL)
their own individual “plant
dictionaries.” Provide them with vocabulary and pictures to paste
into their dictionaries as the unit progresses.
- Students identify a plant around or near their home. Challenge
them to record as much data as they can about the plant (e.g.,
length, number of leaves, color, texture, fruit, seeds, bugs in
- Send home (on loan) the data collection books compiled/written
by student teams so that students may share their learning with
- Have students write a letter to a family member telling about
growth of the seeds/plants.
- Use student drawings/writing about the plant growth
assess the level of their observational skills.
- Individual/small group interviews
are a good way to assess what
students are observing about plants and their environment.
- Assess students
by having them sketch a plant with all the parts
they observed during the investigation.
- Students write about/summarize the
growth process from seed to
Shepardson, D. P. (1999). Learning Science in a First Grade Science Activity:
Perspective. Science Education, 83(5), 621-637.
Classroom vignettes and child interviews illustrate that teachers can
mediate students’ learning by enacting these roles within the context
of an activity: facilitator, guide and supporter, active participant and
evaluator. As the teacher mediates, children construct their own
Laplante, B. (1997). Teachers’ Beliefs and Instructional Strategies
in Science: Pushing
Analysis Further. Science Education, 81(3), 227-293.
“School science,” a version of science taught by many teachers,
is remarkably different from science “as it is actually done.” This
teaching strategies used by teachers illustrates the profound impact that a
teacher’s own perception of science learning can have on student
learning. Two vignettes punctuate the crucial necessity for inquiry as a
process of leading students to the construction of science-related