Sunday, December 4, 2011

Unit Resource Portfolio: Plants

Young children have a natural curiosity about the living things that they encounter.  Observation is a great way for students to answer questions about how plants live, their parts, and characteristics.  All plants need nutrients, air, water, light, and a place with space to grow.  They have specific structures to meet their needs.  This ten-day unit is designed to fulfill the SOL requirements for first graders' in-depth exploration of plants.

Virginia Standards of Learning
Standard 1.4  The student will investigate and understand that plants have basic life needs and functional parts and can be classified according to certain characteristics.  Key concepts include
(a) plants need nutrients, air, water, light, and a place to grow;
(b) basic parts of plants;
(c) plants can be classified based on a variety of characteristics.

Background Information
  • Plants have different structures that serve different functions in growth, survival, and reproduction.
  • The functions of plant parts include the roots which hold plants in place and absorb water, seeds which make new plants, leaves which make food for the plant, and stems which hold the plants upright and transport materials up and down the plant.
  • Plants can be categorized by their different characteristics, such as edible/nonedible, flowering/nonflowering, and evergreen/deciduous.
NOTE:  Students do not need to know the terms nonedible, edible, evergreen, and deciduous.  The focus should be on the concept, not the terminology.

In order to successfully complete this unit, students need to know the following words: seed, roots, leaves, stems, plant, flower.

Day 1: Introduction to Plants
Students will:
  • Identify and describe the basic needs of a plant.
Students will participate in an introductory activity that requires them to guess a mystery item (a plant) contained in a brown paper bag.  Divide students into small groups and then display the bag.  Tell the students that the bag contains a mystery object.  Write sun, water, soil, and air onto the Interactive Whiteboard.  Explain that in order to reveal the mystery object, each group must determine what the words on the board have in common.  Select a volunteer from each group to share how the words are related.  Reveal the plant and discuss how each word is important to the life of a plant.  For example, the teacher could say, "The sun gives energy for the plant to make food.  Plants use minerals in the water to help them grow.  The soil provides nutrients for the plant.  The plant takes in carbon dioxide from the air to help make food."  Read the book, Seed, Soil, Sun by Cris Peterson. Facilitate a plant walk on the school's campus (if weather permits) and instruct students to complete a checklist of different plants they saw.  Teach students  "The Needs of a Plant" song to review the basic needs of plants.

Day 2: The Parts of Plants
Students will:
  • Identify the basic parts of a plant.
  • Create an illustration of the basic parts of a plant.
Read the book, Plants are Living Things by Bobbie Kalman.  Discuss the basic parts of plants on p. 10 of the book.  Model how to create an illustration of the basic parts of a plant (see example).  Instruct students to complete the Plant Vocabulary worksheet.  Teach students "The Parts of Plants" song.  For the lyrics, click here.

Day 3: Flippin' Over Plant Parts
Students will:
  • Identify and describe the basic parts of a plant.
  • Create a stepbook foldable that identifies and describes the basic parts of a plant.
Read the book,  From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons.  Lead a discussion about the different plant parts and their roles in the life of the plant.  Model how to create a stepbook foldable, using four sheets of paper.  Staple the booklets along the top.  Display the example for reference.  Instruct students to write a short sentence under each flap describing the importance of the labeled plant part.  Students will use the foldable to review the five basic parts of the plants in pairs.

Day 4: Leafy Comparisons
Students will:
  • Identify the functions of leaves for a plant.
  • Sort, identify, and describe the similarities and differences of a variety of leaves.
Three types of leaves.
Read the book,  Leaves by Vijaya Khisty Bodach.  Discuss the functions of leaves, describe the different kinds of leaves, and the leaves in which we eat.  Review the basic parts of plants using the maple tree illustration on p. 22.  Begin the leaf sorting activity by giving one leaf to each student.  Explain that one way scientists classify leaves is by looking at a leaf's edge.  Introduce the three categories on the Leaf Sorting Activity handout.  Show examples of smooth-edged, lobed, and toothed leaves.  Place students in pairs to sort various leaves.  Instruct students to paste the leaves in the appropriate column and share why the leaf fits into that category.  Select groups to share their leaf classifications at the end.  Read Look Once, Look Again: Plant Leaves by David M. Schwartz, which taps into readers' sense of sight.

Day 5: Leafy Learning
Students will:
  • Collect a variety of leaves on a leaf hunt (if the weather permits).
  • Create a leaf rubbing.
  • Record the similarities and differences between various leaves.
Read We're Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger.  Facilitate a leaf hunt to collect various leaves that have fallen.  Encourage students to collect at least four smooth-edged, lobed, and toothed leaves.  Instruct students to place leaves into their individual plastic bags.  Discuss the differences between deciduous and evergreen trees.  Once in the classroom, instruct students to choose two of their leaves to create a leaf rubbing.  Instruct students to choose crayons that match the color of each leaf.  Demonstrate how to use a crayon to make a leaf rubbing.  Instruct students to study the rubbings and identify similarities and differences between the two types of leaves and record these comparisons.  Select students to share their rubbings in small groups and discuss the similarities and differences, as well as the types of leaves (i.e. smooth-edged, lobed, toothed).  Click here for the handout.

Day 6: Garden in a Glove Sprout Race
Students will:
  • Identify the needs of  plant seeds.
  • Investigate the germination of seeds.
  • Observe the growth of various seeds over a period of time.
Facilitate a Think-Pair-Share activity in which students answer the following question: Do all plants take the same amount of time to sprout? Instruct students to record their thoughts, then share with a partner and the class.  Discuss that like humans, plants also go through stages as they grow.  Show students the life cycle of a plant poster.  Read Oh Say Can You Seed: All About Flowering Plants by Bonnie Worth and review the stages of growth in flowering plants.  Explain that the students will set up an experiment to compare five seeds (Garden in a Glove, Ag In the Classroom) and observe the seeds for several days until germination is complete. To keep track of the seeds' progress, students will make a seed journal using brown construction paper and writing paper.  For the first day, students will make predictions about when they think the first signs of growth will occur and what seeds will sprout first.  Explain that students will record observations in their "Sprout Race" journals every day until the seeds have matured into sprouts.  Read The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle on YouTube.  Click here for the link.

Day 7: Getting to the Root of It
Students will:
  •  Identify the function of roots.
  • Recognize the importance of roots in the life cycle of a plant.
In advance, gather a hair dryer, a small potted plant, a container with moist soil, and plant clippings with no roots.  Ask students why they think roots are important and list their responses on the Interactive Whiteboard. Place the plant clippings in the container with moist soil.  Ask students to predict what might happen to these two plants on a windy day.  Select students to share their responses. Turn the hair dryer on a low setting and point it toward both plants.  Ask students to describe what happened (i.e. the plant clippings pull out of the soil because they have no roots).  Read Roots by Vijaya Khisty Bodach.  Discuss the function of roots and different roots in which we eat.  Show students two plastic cups that contain garlic cloves (i.e. teachers should plant these at least 3-5 days in advance).  Explain that one cup contains a garlic clove that was planted pointing up, while the other was planted pointing down.  Instruct students to record their observations on this handout.  Explain that roots always grow down.  Explain that a garlic clove is a kind of seed called a bulb and when it is planted, pointing down, a sprout still grows up from it; however, it takes longer to come out of the dirt.  Provide students with time to play the interactive game, The Great Plant Escape.

Day 8: Carnation Capers
Students will:
  • Identify and describe the functions of a plant's stem.
  • Observe and investigate plant stems in tinted (i.e. food coloring) water.
Place students into pairs and give each pair a blue carnation to observe and analyze.  Instruct students to answer the following questions on Post-It notes, Why is the carnation blue?  Aren't carnations usually white? If you wanted to change a white carnation into a blue carnation, what would you do?  How could you find out if your idea was correct?  Select students to share and post these responses on the Interactive Whiteboard.  Conduct a brief demonstration to show why the stem of a plant is so important by filling a cup with water, tinted with food coloring and adding a rolled paper towel.  Ask students to share what they observed and how it is related to plants.  Give students food coloring and cups with tinted water to color carnations.  Give each pair of students a carnation with a split stem to investigate what happens if both stems are placed into different colored water.  Ask students the following questions: How do the carnations that drink one color of water look?  How do the carnations that drink two colors of water look?  Is there a difference?  Do the flowers drink the different colors at the same speed? Read Stems by Vijaya Khisty Bodach. Explain that a plant draws water up to its stem similar to the water in which humans drink through straws.  Distribute the Keyword Method handout for students to complete. Click here for the handout.

Day 9: Tops and Bottoms
Students will:
  • Classify various edible vegetables, according to their parts of the plant.
  • Create a salad that contains various edible vegetables.
  • Identify top and bottom vegetables.
Is it a top or a bottom?  Students will find the answer to this question during a brief sorting activity.  Explain that a vegetable is the part of the plant that we eat. Read Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens, emphasizing how Hare was able to trick the lazy Bear.  Display an assortment of vegetables and have students sort them by plant part.  Select students to help to create a salad to taste the different vegetables.  As each item is added, explain which plant part it is from and the function of the plant part.  Provide students with time to play the interactive game, Build a Salad.  Instruct students to complete the Tops and Bottoms assessment.  For this handout, click here.

Here are some examples of edible veggies:
Stems: asparagus, leeks, celery
Leaves: cabbage, lettuce
Flowers: cauliflower, broccoli
Roots: carrots, beets, radishes, parsnips, turnips
Tubers (underground stems): potatoes, yams
Seeds: peas, corn, sunflower seeds, chickpeas
Fruit: tomatoes, cucumbers, orange segments

NOTE: This lesson involves food; therefore, teachers should review student allergies prior to the lesson.

Day 10: Review Concepts
Students will:
  •  Review the basic needs and parts of plants.
  • Create a foldable that identifies and describes the different parts of plants.
Read Plant Secrets by Emily Goodman to review the basic parts of plants.  Model how to create an envelope foldable that identifies and describes the different parts of plants to glue into their science notebooks.  Instruct students that they must draw the life cycle of a plant inside of the foldable. Provide students with ample time to play the following interactive games: (1) Plant Life Cycle Sequence Game; (2) Helping Plants Grow Well; (3) Plant Growth Factors; (4) Plant Life, Plants Galore;; (5) Plant Explorer, as well as review their science journals.

SPECIAL NOTE: All handouts and foldables should be pasted into the students' science notebooks and used as a studying tool.

End-of-Unit Plants Test

Additional Resources
The following web sites are a great way for students to build their understanding of plants:

Biology of Plants
This site provides information on basic plant parts, pollination, and photosynthesis.

Plants Quiz
This web site quizzes students' knowledge of basic plant parts.

SOL Pass
This web site contains various plant interactive games, in preparation for the third grade SOL.

Trees are Terrific: Travels with Pierre
Pierre the acorn leads students on an interactive adventure that explores trees.

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