In this lesson, students learn about the life cycle of plants by watching a time-lapse video. This activity provides students with further evidence that all living things grow and change as they progress through their life cycle. Two optional video segments show students how to set up a germination experiment and how to grow seeds they collect on their socks.
- Understand that plants have a life cycle that includes sprouting; developing roots, stems, leaves, and flowers; reproducing; and eventually dying
- Observe the changes that occur during plant growth and development
- Understand that the life cycle of plants is different from the life cycle of animals
- Sequence the stages of plant life
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5
- Two 30- to 40-minute blocks
Use these resources to create a simple assessment or video-based assignment with the Lesson Builder tool on PBS LearningMedia.
- One flowering potted plant
- A variety of fruits
- White paper
- Crayons or markers
- Germinator activity: plastic bag, bean seeds, paper towel, water
- Sock Seeds activity: sock, soil, box, water
- Bean or pea seeds activity: seeds, cups, soil, spoon, water, light source
- Mystery Garden activity: seeds collected from students' lunches, a terrarium or large pot, soil, water
Before the Lesson
- Cut open the fruits to expose their seeds.
- Collect materials for the optional activities.
1. Show students a flowering potted plant, and ask them to name the parts of the plant: roots, stems, leaves, and flowers. Ask:
- Which part of the plant develops into the fruit?
2. To help students understand that seeds develop inside fruits, have them examine a variety of fruits that have been cut open to expose their seeds. Discuss the different seed shapes they observe.
3. Make a word or picture splash (randomly scattered words or pictures) on the board that includes the following words or pictures: seed, root, stem, leaves, and fruit. Tell students that they are going to watch a video showing a seed sprouting (germinating) and growing. Ask them to predict which part of the plant starts to grow first, which part grows second, and so on. Put the words/pictures in the order they suggest.
4. Show students the From Seed to Flower video. After watching, have them suggest corrections to the order of the words/pictures on the board. Ask them to describe how plants change as they grow. What happens to their size? Their shape? Their parts?
5. Discuss how the life cycle of plants is similar to and different from the life cycle of animals.
6. Remind students of the stages of human development discussed in the Birth, Growth, and Development lesson: newborn, toddler, child, teenager, young adult, middle-aged adult, elderly adult. Ask students if there are comparable stages in the life cycle of plants.
7. Give each student a piece of paper and have them draw and color pictures of plants that they think correspond to each of the stages of human development. (For example, a seed with newly sprouted roots would represent a newborn plant. A tall tree, with many branches, would illustrate a middle-aged tree.) They may want to watch the video again to help them with this project.
8. If possible, take students on a stages-in-the-life-of-a-tree hunt. Can they find a seedling, sapling, young adult tree, and very mature tree? How about a dead tree? Have them carefully draw examples of the stages they are able to find.
- Have students conduct the germination experiment demonstrated in the Germinator video. Have students document with drawings the changes they observe in the seeds.
- Have students conduct the sock-seeds experiment demonstrated in the Sock Seeds video. Have students document their results with drawings.
- Have students plant bean or pea seeds in soil and observe and measure their growth.
- Have students observe and record changes in plants (trees, shrubs, flowers, grass) on the playground and around the school during fall, winter, and spring.
- Create a mystery garden. Every afternoon, have children plant the seeds that they collect from their lunches.