Learning about plant life cycles taps into your student’s natural curiosity about the world around them. In this article, I will be sharing 7 of my favorite activities for plant life cycle units.
Identifying Parts of a Plant
Before you dive into talking about plants, it is a good idea to make sure the students know the names of the plant parts. How detailed you need to go depends upon your grade level. Key words to this topic include germination, pollinating, reproduce, and seed dispersal.
📽This video from Generation Genius is a great introduction or review.
Dissecting a Seed
Kids love hands-on science. This easy-to-do dissection of a lima bean is perfect for elementary students. All you need is a bag of dry lima beans, paper towels, and a bowl of water.
Before class, soak the dry beans in a bowl of water. Give each student a paper towel, a bean, and a lab sheet like this. As the students gently separate the parts, they can glue them to the paper.
Grab this student recording sheet here
Watch Sprout Seeds
Here is a way for your students to observe plant life cycle stages of without using soil.
- Clear Plastic Cups – An alternative is Mason Jars
- Paper Towels
- Dried Lima Beans
- Fold a damp paper towel into a rectangle. Line the inside of the cup with the paper towel.
- Add a crumpled paper towel in the center of the cup to hold it in place.
- Place 3 dried beans between the side of the cup and the paper towel.
- Gently add some more water to the cup until the middle is saturated.
- Place the cups near a windowsill.
In a few days, the students will notice the seed coat wrinkling. Then the root will start to grow. Keep the paper towels moist.
You can have the students keep a plant journal. They can write the date and draw an illustration of their seed’s growth.
Parts of a Flower
One of the best flowers to use to show the structure of a flower is a lily. If possible, I recommend bringing a real lily to class. Not only are they beautiful, but it is very easy to identify the stigma, anthers, and stamen.
Then you can follow up the experience with photographs or a diagram of a flower.
Follow up with a labeling worksheet like this. I made one for you here.
Which Plant Parts Do You Eat?
Another fun activity to start off your unit is having the children think about which plant part they eat when having a meal.
A fun and effective way to help children understand how pollen is transferred from one flower to another is with a simulation like this. Using simple materials like pipe cleaners and colored powders, students act like bees and gather “pollen”.
Check out this post to see how I did it!
I have all the directions to do this with your class.
Wisconsin Fast Plants
You don’t need a garden, or a long growing season to observe the entire life cycle of a flowering plant. These Fast Plants® will sprout, flower, and produce seeds in 6 weeks.
Carolina Biological offers a complete growing kit and instruction manual. It even comes with dried bees so the students can pollinate the flowers!
At the end of the growth cycle, my students harvested the seeds so I could use them next year!
You will need to use a grow light for the plants to receive light 24 hours a day.
Other Things to Help You
These plant life cycle interactive posters are easy and informative. You can differentiate the process and product for your students. Click on the pictures to learn more.