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Botany Activities & Games

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Learning about botany helps students better understand the world around them: from their houseplants to the trees growing in the forest. This series of games and activities builds on student knowledge about plants in fun, lab-based activities and interactive games.

Learning About Botany

Chances are, students will arrive to your class already knowing a great deal about botany, or the study of plants. This series of games and activities is meant to build upon current knowledge and can be used alongside textbook lessons or as standalone lessons.

Plant Cell Investigation

One of the more important parts of botany is learning which characteristics plant cells share. This activity requires students look at plant vs. animal cells under a microscope and then compare them.

Materials

  • Animal Cells
    • Suggested animal cells:
    • Cheek cell (stained with methyl blue)
    • A prepared animal cell slide (these can be purchased from biological supply companies)
  • Plant Cells
    • Suggested plant cells:
    • Elodea (can be purchased as pet stores)
    • Onion (stained with iodine)
  • Slides
  • Cover slips
  • Iodine and methyl blue
  • Microscopes
  • Toothpicks
  • Water and dropper
  • Images of plant and animal organelles to show on an overhead

Activity Instructions

  • Begin by asking students what they already know about plants vs. animals and make a Venn diagram on the board.
  • Make a list of some of the organelles students may see (and, if images are available, show them what those organelles would look like prior to the activity).
  • Prepare the cells for viewing under the microscope:
    • Cheek cell: Students should gently scrape the inside of their cheeks with a toothpick. Place a drop of water on a slide and then swish the toothpick in the water. Add a drop of methyl blue, add a cover slip, and view under the microscope.
    • Elodea: Take a thin piece of Elodea, place it on the slide and view under the microscope. Students may or may not add a cover slip.
    • Onion: Take a thin piece of onion, place it on a slide, and add a drop of iodine and then a cover slip. View under the microscope.
  • For each, students should view on at least two different magnifications and draw and label the organelles.
  • At the end, return to the Venn diagram and make a list of organelles unique to plants.
    • At the minimum, students should be able to identify the cell wall, nucleus and chloroplasts (for plants).

Plant Scavenger Game

This activity works well if there are plants on the school campus and gets students thinking about the variety in the Plant Kingdom.

Materials

  • Scavenger hunt worksheet that lists what students need to collect. For example:
    • Heart shaped leaf
    • Palmate leaf
    • Oval leaf
    • Toothed edged leaf
    • Smooth edged leaf
    • A plant that has a strong smell
    • A seed that is dispersed by wind
    • A tree with needles
    • A plant with a berry
    • A moss
    • A flower with yellow flowers
  • Ziploc to collect specimens

Game Instructions

  • Begin by describing the variety seen in the plant world and then have students explore that variety on the school campus.
  • Students should work in teams to find all of the items on the list. For larger items, students can just take a piece (i.e. tree).
  • Once back in the classroom, work with students to classify their findings into plant groupings. This can be complex for older grades, or simple for younger students.

Stomata Investigation

This activity will compare stomata in different groups of plants so students can make predictions about stomata and a plant's natural habitat.

Materials

  • Different plants from different habitats. For example: succulents, plants that naturally live in tropical environments, and plants that grow in whatever region the students live.
  • Clear nail polish
  • Cellophane tape or clear carton-sealing tape (do not use opaque tapes, stick with clear tapes)
  • Slides
  • Microscopes
  • Ruler
  • Scissors

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