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        PreK-3, 13+

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        Part of PBS KIDS ScratchJr
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        How Plants Grow: Lesson Plan | PBS KIDS ScratchJr

        Grow a digital garden with NATURE CAT!

        Lesson Summary

        Tally Ho! Inspired by NATURE CAT, in this activity children will explore cause and effect relationships and what plants need to grow and thrive. Children will be challenged to create projects in PBS KIDS ScratchJr where they make their own plants and trees grow.

        Time Allotment

        Nature Cat Character

        Total time to completion: 1 hour and 45 minutes

        Getting Started: 5 minutes

        Play: 10 minutes

        Explore: 20 minutes

        Watch: 15 minutes

        Create: 30 minutes

        Share: 15 minutes

        Keep Going: 10 minutes

        Learning Objectives

        Children will learn how to use the PBS KIDS ScratchJr programming blocks to make animated stories and interactive projects. They will explore coding and computational thinking practices as they utilize technology as a tool for creativity, expression and learning with the PBS KIDS ScratchJr app.


        • Programming / Coding - Creating a sequence of instructions that tells a computer (or other technology) what to do
        • Sequence / Algorithm - A series of ordered steps to solve a problem or accomplish a task
        • Events - One thing causing another thing to happen
        • Parallelism - Making multiple things happen at the same time


        • iPads or Android tablets for each child (or group of children)
        • The NATURE CAT “Ze Worm Whisperer,” episode
        • TV, projector, computer, or other device to play the episode
        • A document camera to display tablet work to the whole group or a cable to connect the tablet and projector
        • Chalkboard, whiteboard, or poster paper for brainstorming
        • Design Handouts
        • Parent Handout (English | Spanish)

        Introductory Activity

        Getting Started

        The context in which you are engaging in this activity will impact how you get started. Take the time to set-up cues, preview what you’re going to be doing and why, and to get the kids ready and focused for a fun and creative PBS KIDS challenge.

        Today, children will get to use their knowledge of nature to become gardening experts just like Daisy and Nature Cat. Children will use PBS KIDS ScratchJr to grow their own digital plants and trees. Tally ho!

        Ask a focusing question and have each child answer: If you could grow anything in your garden, what would you grow?

        Learning Activities


        Have everyone stand in a circle for a game of “Zip, Zap, Zop.”

        • Have the whole group repeat those three words in order a few times: Zip. Zap. Zop.
        • Tell the group that you have a bolt of energy in your hands. To start the game, send the bolt out of your hands with a strong forward motion straight to someone else in the circle and say, “Zip.” Be sure you make eye contact with the person you pass it to.
        • Now it’s that person’s turn to immediately send the bolt of energy to someone else by saying, “Zap,” using the same forward moving hand motion and eye contact.
        • The third person passes it on with a “Zop,” to someone else in the circle.
        • The game continues in that order, “Zip, Zap, Zop,” until there is a mistake.
        • Play for as many rounds as time allows.

        This game is a great way to get children active and focused and also helps to reinforce the computational thinking concept of Events; one thing causing another thing to happen. The game is all about triggers, events, and cause and effect relationships.


        Model and have the group follow along as you explore how to use the Grow, Shrink, Start on Tap, Wait, and Message Sending blocks within PBS KIDS ScratchJr by dragging each of them into the programming area and discovering what they do. When modeling blocks and features, first ask children what they think each block will do before testing out their guesses.

        Additionally, make sure you give children some free time to openly explore the app on their own. Kids are curious and fearless with technology. After taking the time to introduce and model specific features of the tool, it is valuable to provide kids with opportunities to explore, discover, and learn on their own. Give children opportunities to share any new and exciting discoveries with the group.

        Grow and Shrink BlockGrow and Shrink Blocks - These pink Looks blocks change the size of your characters.

        Wait BlockWait Blocks - The Wait block is a great way to build pauses into your programs.

        Start on TapStart on Tap Blocks - This block is a fun alternative to the Start on Green Flag block.

        Message Sending BlocksMessage Sending Blocks - These are great ways to trigger events, but can be a little tricky to set up.

        See our programming cheat sheet and video tutorials if you need more information on the blocks and their functions.   


        Nature Cat - Ze Worm Whisperer 

        Click the image above to view the 11-minute NATURE CAT episode, “Ze Worm Whisperer,” and have the group pay attention to how Nature Cat and his friends help prepare the garden to help Daisy’s plants grow.


        Now it’s time to for everyone to make their own plant growing projects. Make sure everyone has a tablet to work on and make yourself available to lend support as everyone works on their projects.

        • Work as a group to create a list of all the things plants need to grow.  Capture this list on the board; making ideas visible can help later on when they are figuring out what they want to create with their projects. 
        • Encourage everyone to add a plant or tree character to their project as well as some other objects that their plant/tree needs to grow.
        • Encourage children to refer back to the list you created together!

        Challenging Option

        Encourage children to use the Start on Green Flag, Grow, and Wait blocks to create projects where exposure to the sun, water, and worms helps plants grow.

        • Encourage children to use the concept of Parallelism by using the 'Start on Green Flag block to trigger all of their characters' programs.
        • Encourage children to add animations for the sun, water, and/or worm characters.
        • Encourage children to make their plants grow after being triggered and after waiting for other objects to complete their animations.

        Super Challenging Option

        Encourage everyone to use the Start on Tap, Send/Receive Messages, and Grow blocks to create programs that make their plants grow when other objects are tapped on.

        • Tap on the Sun, and the plant should grow.
        • The same thing should happen when you tap on the water.
        • Is there anything that can be added and programmed that would make their plant shrink (snow, animals, storms etc.)?

        If anyone gets stuck, encourage them to reach out to each other for support.

        Make it Simpler

        Have children forget all of the other extra characters and just practice making the plant grow or shrink when it is tapped on.


        Have everyone swap tablets with a partner to check out each other's projects. Encourage children to share even if their project isn't finished. Sharing and getting feedback on unfinished work is a great way to inspire new ideas. Also encourage them to explore which programming blocks their partner used and why.

        Additionally, continue to model and encourage the giving and receiving of warm and cool feedback. Is there anything they would change about their project after seeing their partner’s project? After 5 minutes, get everyone’s attention and ask them to share something awesome about their partner’s project with the whole group.

        Culminating Activity

        Keep Going

        If you have extra time, give children the chance to work on whatever they would like. If they received useful feedback, were inspired by other projects, or want to attempt one of the extensions below, this is a wonderful opportunity to do just that. Or they can start a whole new project and can create whatever they would like.

        Coding Challenge

        • Challenge children to extend their projects to more deeply express their plant knowledge. Page one could be a diagram of the different parts of the plant (using voice recorder or text to label each part) and each subsequent page could demonstrate more facts about the plant’s life cycle.

        Literacy Extension

        • Using the Say blocks, children can include text in their projects to describe their plant knowledge. This is an opportunity to explore the concept of facts versus opinions in writing. A fact is something that has happened or is known to be true, while an opinion is something that is believed to be true. After exploring the difference between facts and opinions, encourage children to include at least two facts and one opinion about the plants in their projects.

        Math Extension

        • When working with message sending, children are practicing matching skills by ensuring their Start on Message color matches their Send Message color. As a group, try exploring what happens when the message colors don’t match. 

        Take Home

        Send children home with this Parent Handout (English | Spanish) to help encourage discussion and continued play at home!

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