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Plant Activities for First Grade

Instructor: Derek Hughes
Teaching first grade students about plants is best done through activities that provide students with hands-on experience. This lesson will describe several activities for teaching about plants in first grade.

First Grade Gardening

Mr. Adams teaches first grade at Elemeno Elementary. Every spring, he teaches a series of lessons about plant growth and structure. However, Mr. Adams doesn't simply lecture his class or make them read boring textbook pages. After all, they're only 6 years old! In order to teach this exciting topic, Mr. Adams does several hands-on activities that give his students practical, real-world experience with plant growth and structure.

This lesson will detail several of Mr. Adams' activities that you can use in your own classroom. These activities are all hands-on to help fully engage your first graders in learning about plants.

Bean Growing Experiment

For this activity, Mr. Adams and his class plant several lima beans in each of 4-5 small cups. Lima beans are good for this activity because they are able to grow without soil and with very little care. In each cup, Mr. Adams places 3-4 beans along with several cotton balls. The cotton balls are there to provide water for the beans and need to be sprayed once a day.

Mr. Adams uses the classroom beans in an experiment with his students. For each cup, he and his class change the environment around the beans. For example, one cup is covered in black construction paper and a lid, preventing sunlight from getting to the plant. In another, a handful of beans is placed inside of the cup instead of only 3 or 4 beans. In another, the cotton balls are never sprayed with water. In the final cup, the beans are given optimal conditions for the growth.

After Mr. Adams and his class plant the beans, each student makes a prediction for each cup, describing how they think the beans will grow. Over the next week or so, Mr. Adams gives his students a few minutes each day to write down their observations of the beans. Finally, at the end of the experiment, Mr. Adams and his students discuss whether their predictions were correct and to make final observations of the bean plants.

Mr. Adams uses this activity to teach his students about the different things plants need to grow. By the end of the experiment, Mr. Adams' students know that all plants need enough room, sunlight, and water to grow, and most also need soil. This activity also helps Mr. Adams introduce his students to the scientific method for conducting experiments.

Plant Safari

During his plant unit, Mr. Adams spends some time teaching his students about several plants that can be found around school. He uses these lessons to teach students about the anatomy of plants and flowers in addition to instructing them on identifying differences between plants. The capstone of these lessons about the anatomy and structure of plants is a safari around the school grounds.

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