Plant Unit

Rationale

This unit focuses on plants: how plants grow, parts of a plant, different types of plants, and how we use plants in our lives.  It was designed for a six week period with three lessons per week being taught.  It was planned to be taught in a first grade classroom, however, it could be adapted and used at many other grade levels.  Students will leave the unit with a strong understanding of plants that they can use in their everyday lives. 

Each of the lessons is created as a 5E Inquiry Based Lesson.  This first E stands for Engage.  Typically, engage falls under the anticipatory set area.  It focuses on how you will interest the students in the lesson while assessing their prior knowledge.  The second E stands for Explore.  During this part of the lesson, students are using their prior knowledge to observe something that the teacher is doing or participating in a hands-on activity that will provide a foundation for the new information the teacher will introduce.  The third E stands for Explain.  In the explanation portion of the lesson, the teacher is telling the students the information they need to know.  Sometimes the students will be writing or discussing the information with each other.  The fourth E stands for Elaboration.  This closely correlates with the closure of the lesson.  It is an extension of what they learned.  In this unit, the students are sometimes conducting an experiment or creating a diagram or acting out a role-play or many other things.  It is the time where students can apply what they have learned.  The final E is Evaluation.  This is the assessment portion of the lesson.  It outlines how the teacher will know that the students understood the lessons objectives. 

The unit begins with seeds: seed parts and how seeds move.  Since every plant starts as a seed, I felt that it was important to start learning about plants from how they begin.  Next, we discuss the basic needs of a plant: air, sun, water, and soil.  The students will conduct experiments to find out what happens when a plant does not get one of these three things.  They will also discover what type of soil is the best.  Then, we will move onto how a plant grows or its life cycle.  The students will role-play a plant growing from seed to flower, they will plant lima beans and uncover them at different stages of the growth process, and they will make a seed wheel which shows pictorially displays a growing plant step by step.  Next, we will learn about each part of a plant: roots, stem, leaves, and flower.  The students will learn a song to help them remember the parts.  They will create a plant and flower diagram using a variety of art materials.  They will experiment with carrots and potatoes to find out what happens when you plant a root in just water.  They will observe a stalk of celery over several days to see what happens when it is placed in colored water.  They will learn the basic process of photosynthesis and pollination. 

Then, we will discuss some strange plants.  These plants are different in some way from the other plants we have been discussing.  Some grow in different environments such as the desert.  Some eat insects.  Some grow in the water.  Students will have the opportunity to grow their own strange plant using old socks, grass seed, and buttons and they will look at Claude Monet’s paintings of water lilies and create one of their own.  Finally, we will discuss how we use plants in our lives.  The students will go on a treasure hunt at home to find things that come from plants.  We will sort these items into groups at school.  We will discuss how vegetables are different parts of a plant such as the root or the stem.  We will conclude the unit with a fruit salad celebration.