Follow this basic outline of the photosynthesis process and teaching tools to help make this science unit fun as well as educational.
Breaking Down Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is the big name for the process by which plants convert energy from sunlight into energy for food. This process also requires water and carbon dioxide. Plants are able to absorb rain water through their roots and receive carbon dioxide from the air through their leaves. The carbon dioxide is in the air as a result of the air that animals, including humans, breath out. Plants are able to store these chemicals in their leaves.
Plant leaf cells are unique in that they also contain special components called chloroplasts. Chloroplasts are filled with a green substance called chlorophyll. It is this substance which gives plant leaves their green appearance and enables them to absorb sunlight. When plant cells have water, carbon dioxide and sunlight the chemical process of photosynthesis occurs. When this happens the water, carbon dioxide and sunlight join together to form a sugar called glucose, plus water, and oxygen. In this form the plants can use the glucose,and water for food and release the oxygen back into the air for consumption by animals, including humans.
Teaching Kids the Basics
While many 5th Grade science text books include chapters on plant cells and the process of photosynthesis, extra resources are always useful for creative educators. Here are a few websites that offer additional teacher resources for 5th Grade photosynthesis lesson plans.
Plant Cell Diagram -- this site includes a well-labeled diagram of the plant cell
Photosynthesis -- this site includes information on the process of photosynthesis as well as multiple diagrams of leaf structures
Plant Cell Anatomy - this site includes both a labeled diagram and a glossary of terms
Finding the Fun in Photosynthesis
Teaching photosynthesis does not have to be a dry, boring lecture and flat pictures in a text-book. In fact, it is one of the easiest lessons to transform into a kinesthetic learning experience, a science experiment or an art lesson. Through these activities every learning style will have an opportunity to truly understand the process of photosynthesis.
Dramatic Photosynthesis -- Each student assumes a role in the process of photosynthesis. The rolls are: the sun, the plant, water, carbon dioxide, energy, sugar and a narrator. The sun shines in the center of the room. Plants are surrounded by energy, water and carbon dioxide which walk around them and then sit down. Sugar and oxygen then take a turn to walk around the plants. The narrator describes the process as it happens. Animals can also be included giving off carbon dioxide and receiving oxygen. The students might wish to repeat the process over and over to show how the relationship continues.
Science Experiment -- Plants can be observed in various amounts of light to show the effects of light on plant growth. Plants grown in darkness will die. Plants with much light will thrive because of the process of photosynthesis.
PHOTO synthesis -- Students can draw the process of photosynthesis taking effort to include every element of the process.
Why Photosynthesis Matters?
Fifth Grade photosynthesis lesson plans would not be complete without an emphasis on the significance of photosynthesis for the entire population of the world's plants and animals. Without photosynthesis plants would not produce oxygen. Without oxygen to breathe animals could not live. Without animals plants would not receive carbon dioxide. Likewise neither could exist without sunlight and water. Fifth graders should learn from this lesson that photosynthesis is the backbone of the most basic and necessary relationship on earth.