The National Science standards for the U.S. explains that kindergarten through fourth grade students should study the life cycle of plants and animals. "Plants and animals have life cycles that include being born, developing into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying." Studying the life cycle of a plant is a science experiment that all students will be engaged and excited about. Each child will care and tend for a plant and all of its needs in the stages of its life.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Lima bean seeds
- Potting soil
- Dead sunflower plant
- Live plant
Find drawings of the stages of the life cycle of a plant. You will cut these apart and glue on an index card. Give a stack of all the stages to a pair of students. The students are to place them in sequential order. Each child will have a stack with images of seed, newly sprouted plant, plant with bud, plant with flowers and foliage of the plant dead. Once the students have placed the cards in the order they believe to be true, read "The Life Cycle of a Bean," by Linda Tagliaferro, or one of the many children's books about the life cycle. Place the stages in order on the board as you read the book. Have the students check their work as you read
Set up a planting station. Provide each student with a cup with his name on it, potting soil and a bean seed. Give them directions to plant the bean seed an inch below the surface of the soil. Have a watering can available for the students to water their plant. The students draw a picture of their plant and label it "Day One." Keep these journal drawings in their science journal. Each day they will care for their plant, making sure it has enough sunlight and water. The students will draw the progress of their plant each day. When the plant has begun a new stage of its life, they will note that in their journal and share it with the teacher and class.
Bring to class a live healthy plant and a plant at the seed-dispersing stage, a tall sunflower from the garden last summer is a great example. Have the students examine the stage that each of these plants are in. Take some seeds from the sunflower and examine them with a magnifying glass. Plant the sunflower seeds on campus, preferably in the school garden. Tend to the seeds by watering, weeding and making sure the soil has plenty of nutrients. Next year, you will have the sunflower plant readily available to show your new students.
Tips and warnings
- If you have an interactive whiteboard, the life cycle can by manipulated on this instead of with posters of the images.
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- National Science Standards - National Academy of Science - NatureWorks
- Plant Printouts - Enchanted Learning
- Different Kinds of Plants - Plant Life Cycle
- Amazon.com: The Life Cycle of a Bean (Pebble Plus) (9780736867102): Tagliaferro, Linda: Books
- Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service - Growing Beans in the Home Vegetable Garden