When I was in college, I did not like learning about plants. It was a boring class and the professor had a monotone voice. I was a science major so this was a required course. I needed a class with hands-on plant activities in order to learn better. And perhaps a professor that added a little excitement to his voice.
Kids are the same. They aren’t going to get excited about a topic if you don’t. They also need to have those hands-on activities to be engaged and to truly understand what they are exploring, whether it be math, language arts, or science. So how can we make plants an engaging and hands-on topic beyond just planting a few seeds? That’s what this post is about!
#1 – Meeting Plant’s Needs
In lower elementary, students begin exploring whether a plant is considered alive or not. Once they determine it is alive, they decide what a plant’s needs are for survival. One activity that I like to do with my students is the Plant’s Needs stem challenge. In this activity, students are hired to create a package that will keep a plant alive during shipping for five days. Students are given recycled materials to create their packages and after 5 days, we come back to check on the plant to see how they did.
Of course, you can definitely plant seeds and watch them grow as we do in my Plant Unit. We read about the needs of plants & discuss them. Planting seeds are also good for measurement skills, observation skills, and later when discussing the plant life cycle.
#2 – Plants’ Structures & Functions
Once students have learned about the needs of plants, then teachers like to focus on the different structures of a plant and their functions. While you can easily have your students draw a plant and label its leaves, stems, and roots, I want to have students focus on hands-on plant activities that will really help them remember the structures and their functions. I like to pull out my plant-hanging mobile.
In the hanging mobile, students create a plant with leaves designed on one side with the structure and its function is on the other side. They make a cute display and students really remember what each part does!
#3 – Photosynthesis
While photosynthesis is more of a middle school topic, I feel it’s important for students to understand that plants make their own food through this process. I don’t go into deep detail. Instead, I keep it light and fun through photosynthesis role-play activity! In the post, Making Photosynthesis Engaging to Upper Elementary, I talk all about how I use it in the classroom.
#4 – Plant Adaptations
Plant adaptations is a topic that I feel doesn’t get enough coverage. Sometimes it’s easy to get focused on all of the adaptations that animals have and then quickly skim through the plants. One way that I like to keep my students engaged with the plant adaptation is by creating plant superheroes!
Students love this activity because they choose a plant and turn all of its adaptations into superhero qualities. It’s creative and requires students to think outside the box a little! It’s definitely an engaging hands-on plant activity!
#5 – Plant Life Cycle
Sometimes teaching about the plant’s life cycle can be a bit boring. You can bring in picture books to spice things up a little, bring in a collaborative poster for students to put together in groups, or have students assemble these plant fans! Who isn’t a fan of plant fans!
#6 – Plant Cells
If your district requires you to teach about plant cells, their parts, and what each part does, then check out this plant cell craftivity in the form of an iPad. Students have an “app” that shows the part on top and under its flap describes what that part does. It’s a cute way to focus on plant cells!
#7 – Chlorophyll in Plants
Want to discuss how leaves change color in the fall? Are you looking to discuss chlorophyll in plants? Check out this Leaf Chromatography booklet where students investigate both of these things! It includes differentiated reading passages, vocabulary focus, and writing with the investigation! This hands-on plant activity is a hit in all classrooms!
#8 – Exploring Pollination
This free activity helps your students explore how bees help plants with the pollination process. Students transfer kool-aid powder from cotton ball to cotton ball using q-tips. It’s very eye-opening to students. You can grab that resource free by clicking here.
#9 – Flowers & Figurative Language
One of my favorite hands-on plant activities to do is the Figurative Plant Pennants. In this activity, students are assigned a flower and complete a mini-research on it. Then they draw a literal interpretation of the flower based on its name. They then make up a legend about how the flower received its name and create a simile for the flower. There are unique flowers like fiddleneck, canary creeper, skunk cabbage, woolly daisy, and teddy bear cholla. Students have so much fun with this!
#10 – Reviewing All Plant Concepts
This is where I excel. I have plenty of hands-on plant activities to help you review all of the plant concepts you are covering in your classroom! I already mentioned my plant unit which includes planting seeds. It also covers many other important plant concepts. I also have plant fan books that are similar to the life cycle fan books but cover all of the plant concepts. You can also find plant task cards, Plant Boom cards, and Plant circle books. My plant accordion comes with reading passages and materials to help you assess what students learned. It’s engaging and makes a cute resource when finished!
It’s important to use hands-on plant activities during your next plant unit! They help hold students’ attention and retain the information longer. With the wide variety of activities I’ve provided in this post, you’re likely to find something that will definitely keep your students engaged and help them learn!
GRAB YOUR FREEBIE!
In addition to the suggested pollination freebie above, I have this Plant Reading Passage for you. I’ll soon be releasing reading passages on all science subjects! Here’s a sneak peek! Click here to download it completely free!