In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about the plant life cycle. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Plant Life Cycle topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching the Plant Life Cycle
Plant a seed together as a class and observe how it grows. You can purchase inexpensive seeds that grow well indoors, such as basil, sweet alyssum, bean plants, or marigolds, from a nursery, gardening supply store, or even your local grocery store. Conduct research as a class to determine the best way to grow the seeds. How far do they need to be below the surface of the soil? What do they need to germinate? How often should the seeds be watered? Do the seedlings need to be thinned? Then plant the seeds together and keep a log that records dates, observations, and measurements of the plant. You may wish to plant the seeds in a clear plastic cup and plant the seed near the side so students can observe the seed sprout.
So Many Seeds
Have each student sign up to bring in a different kind of seed from home. Students can bring in different fruits to class such as apples, peas, raspberries, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peaches. Have them bring in grains like whole oats, corn, wild rice, or quinoa. They can also find seeds commonly used in cooking, such as poppy seeds or sesame seeds. Some children can present a variety of tree nuts like almonds and walnuts, preferably in their shells. Please make sure students do not have allergies to any of the fruits and nuts you present to the class. Split open the fruits and observe the seeds together. Compare and contrast their appearance and discuss each fruit and seed together. Why are seeds hard? Why are some hulls or shells harder than others? How do you think these seeds move? Why do you think there are so many seeds? Students can write their ideas down in their notebooks and sketch the seeds and fruit.
Bring in a pumpkin and have small groups of students estimate the number of seeds that are inside. Have groups write down their predictions and then have the groups count out the seeds. How can they count the seeds faster? Some groups may choose to count the seeds in arrays or count by tens. How did their estimates compare to the actual number of pumpkin seeds? Why do you think a pumpkin would have so many seeds? You might also compare the amount of seeds found in your pumpkin to the amount found in an apple. Which has more seeds? Why might that be?
Write a list of items your children can find outside, including a seed, flower, fruit, seedling, young adult plant, and adult plant. Choose different examples of plant life around the schoolyard, or you can take your children on a field trip to a garden or nursery. Small groups of students or partners can find the items on the list and describe in words or sketch what they find.
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching the Plant Life Cycle
Encourage your child to eat different kinds of fruit and vegetables and collect the seeds. This will be a great opportunity for your child to practice healthy eating habits, and to learn to recognize and enjoy natural foods. You can make a list of vegetables and fruits for your child to eat in order to collect seeds. Then your child can store the seeds in an egg carton or glue them to make a poster. Make sure your child labels where the seeds came from and, if making a poster, draws an image of the seed as an adult plant. As an added math link, count the number of seeds from each fruit and add different numbers of seeds together.
Garden Variety Experiment
If possible, plant seeds with your child in your yard, park, or a community garden. Buy a package of seeds and count the number of seeds you plant together. If you’re growing different types of plants, ask your child why they think some seeds need more room in the ground than other ones, and why some are planted more deeply while others are planted just beneath the soil’s surface. Then observe and record how many seeds actually grow. Have your child explain why some fruits and vegetables have so many seeds. You may want to add to the experiment by varying the amount of water you give to the seeds and how much light the seeds receive. Encourage your child to record regular observations and make connections.