May 22, 2012

Plants Around Us: Science Edition

Ask the children, "What do plants need?"  Review answers from the story Plant Secrets as needed.  Create a circle map to define plant needs.  In a small circle in the center of a paper, write "Plant Needs".  Draw a much larger circle around the inner circle.  It should be almost as big as the whole paper.  Fill this circle with words and pictures that define plant needs:  sun, water, soil, air.  Children should offer the ideas as much as possible.  They can even help with the words and pictures!

Ideally, you would use the space outside the large circle to describe how you know the information inside the large circle.  The link above demonstrates this.  Reasons would include: "I read Plant Secrets", "I have plants at home", and so on.  This step is not essential, but it provides an opportunity to practice metacognition, or thinking about thinking, which is an important skill that enhances the learning process.

Do you need a challenge?  Create a double bubble map to compare plant needs with human needs.

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Write "Plant Needs" in a medium-sized circle on the left (shown in blue).

Write "Human Needs" in a medium-sized circle on the right (red).

Write and draw plant needs in small circles to the left of "Plant Needs".  Then connect to them medium circle with lines.

Write and draw human needs in small circles to the right of "Human Needs".   Then connect to them human needs medium circle on that side.

What needs do plants and humans both have?  These go in the small circles in the middle with lines connecting to both plant needs and human needs (purple).

Note:  You obviously don't have to use these colors.  In fact, you don't have to use color at all, but it does help to visually make a bit more sense out of all those circles and lines.

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Here is an example of a double bubble map, which is designed to compare and contrast just like our double bubble map of plant and human needs above.


There are many components that make up a flower.  One way to help children understand that a variety of parts make up a whole is to use a brace map.  A whole flower goes on the left, then the brace symbol { with the point towards the whole flower, and finally the separate parts of the flower.  Note:  The picture below should ideally have the point of the brace towards the whole flower rather than the parts.

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Have extra time?  I found an excellent idea here to dissect flowers!  Doesn't that sound fun?  Model for the children how to carefully dissect the flowers.  Be sure to instruct them exactly what pieces should be taken apart (stem, leaves, petals, roots if it has them, seeds).  Provide a paper plate to put the pieces on so they do not get mixed up with other children's dissected flowers.

When they have finished dissecting the flowers, they can make real, 3-D brace maps using the actual flowers.

Finish up today by planting seeds in the pots we painted yesterday.  Remind the children of how Ping planted and cared for his seeds in the story, The Empty Pot.  (Painting pots and reading about Ping are both found in this week's literacy lesson.)  Water the seeds and arrange the pots in a sunny locale where the children can observe the growth.

Next Time
Plant identification can be very complex, but there is plenty young children can learn and so much they already know.

Go on a hunt in a park or playground with a checklist like the one pictured below.  Explain the types of plants on the checklist, and show children how to make a check in the box next to the plants they find.  Children will be excited to hunt for the variety of plants, and they will begin to notice similarities among grasses, bushes, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and trees.

{My computer is having an issue...  The picture checklist is coming soon!}

I encourage you to make this activity a team event.  Children will probably automatically do this with a partner or group.  They can use each other as a resource.  Encourage them to try to find the plants with their peers before getting help from you.

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