1 class periods of 45 minutes each
Thinking & Reasoning
The adaptations of plant roots and leaves are compared and physical features that allow particular plants and animals to live in specific environments are observed.
For the Teacher:
Bring in an assortment of plants for the students to observe. For example: Cactus, Bean, Grass, Moss, Moss rose, Wildflowers, Ferns, and Aloe. Be sure to select plants from the desert as well as plants accustomed to human care. You may consider asking the students to bring a small plant with roots from their home.
For the Student:
Most common plants found in Utah environments have had to adapt in order to survive. Many of these adaptations are physical features that help with living in a specific area. For example, desert plants have special adaptations that help them survive. Usually, the leaves of desert plants are small and have a thick, leathery, or waxy covering. This low surface area and covering seals in moisture and keeps plants from drying out. The prickly pear cacti have swollen stems. They store water to help them survive long droughts. Their roots cover large areas just below the surface of the ground that allow them to quickly absorb the water from infrequent rainstorms. The length of the root varies according to the needs of the plant and the conditions of the environment. The taproot of the mesquite plant can grow 40 feet down into the desert soil to reach water. This activity compares the leaves and root systems of plants from different environments, and has students pose questions to answer why plants have particular physical features.
Students should have a knowledge of the environments located in Utah and understand their physical characteristics.
1. Observe objects and report observations.
2. Pose questions about objects and processes.
3. Report observations with pictures, sentences, and models.
4. Use observations to construct a reasonable explanation.
Step 1. Arrange the class into small groups.
Step 2. Assign each group one or two plants to observe.
Step 3. Students are to draw the upper and lower structures of the plant, including the roots, if the plant can be taken from soil. Encourage them to pay careful attention to:
Step 6. Questions for class discussion:
Collect science journals or check drawings. Look for recorded observations, labeling and explanations of physical features of plants and their environments.
Have students create a scrapbook or collage for each environment that shows a collection of plants and animals.