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Let’s Investigate Plants!

By Rachel Hampton

Plants are everywhere! But, do children really understand a plant’s structure? Do they understand that each part is vital to the plant? Often times, the answer is no. This lesson will give you an opportunity to assess your students’ prior knowledge before delving deeper into the concept.

Yellow Plant When children look at things they seem to only see what’s in front of them. In other words, they see the big picture or the whole. They are often not aware of the parts that complete the whole. This is the first of five lessons, that will allow children to explore this concept.


  1. The student will orally share his/her knowledge about plants.
  2. The student will work cooperatively in groups.
  3. The student will generate questions about plants.
  4. The student will create plant addition number stories.


  • Teacher Made “KWL” Chart (Know, Want, Learn)
  • Various Plant Picture Cards (Teacher Made) You may make as many as needed for your class size. However, you should include plant picture cards of various colors. For example, you may want to have 3 purple plants, 5 yellow plants, etc. This is your choice. Just keep in mind that these picture cards will be used when the children create the addition number stories.
  • Addition Work Mat
  • Internet Access

Lesson Procedure

Get the students excited by allowing them to watch the video called “Little Plant Song” found at YouTube or at After the students view the video, pick their brains by allowing them to tell you what they know about plants. As the teacher, you should record their responses under the “K” (Know) section of the KWL Chart. This can be done on a smartboard, whiteboard, or even butcher paper or tagboard. However, it is important to keep the chart displayed and refer back to it until the unit is completed.

Next, give the students an opportunity to ask questions that he/she would like to know about plants. Give the students a chance to work with a partner(s) to come up with these questions. Be sure to record these student generated questions under the “Want” section of the KWL Chart. Once all the questions have been recorded, then the teacher should add a question to the chart. One question might be, “What makes a plant a plant?” You may add other questions at your discretion. These questions will give you insight into your students’ thoughts and help guide you as you plan future lessons throughout this unit.

Finally, ask the students how many plants were in the video. Display one green plant on the smartboard or whiteboard. Tell the students that Ernie has one green plant and then Bert comes home and brings three yellow plants. (This is a teacher generated scenario to bring in addition. You may tweak the number of plants Bert has. However, Ernie only has one plant as shown in the video). How many plants are there in all? Display the picture and write a number sentence to match.



The green plant should go under a part section and the three yellow plants should go under the other part section. Lastly, move both parts to the top of the workmat to see how many plants there are in all (the whole). The teacher should pre-bag the plant picture cards and distribute them to students that are on grade-level.

Assessment: Students who are below-grade level should work with the teacher in a small group to complete addition number stories. Students on-grade level should demonstrate an understanding of addition by placing the picture cards in parts sections. The student should count and record the number that represents the plant picture cards for each parts section. The students should then show the ability to move the two parts to the top to make the whole. These students should count and record the number to show how many in all.

Students who are above grade level should work in groups of two to orally create an addition plant story. They should demonstrate their understanding by drawing a picture that shows two distinct parts and then the whole. The students should also write a number sentence to represent the parts and the whole.

This lesson will set the foundation as students begin to explore the idea that all things are made up of smaller things. If the students are given multiple opportunities to take ownership of his/her learning then he/she will love learning and in fact become one of his/her best teachers!