Photosynthesis Lesson Plan

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Enhance your instruction on photosynthesis with a lesson. You will find directions for an experiment that will give your students hands-on experience observing, documenting and discussing the process of photosynthesis.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explain the process of photosynthesis
  • List the three components necessary for photosynthesis to take place
  • List the products of photosynthesis
  • Compare the leaves of a plant that has all the components needed for photosynthesis to one that has a component missing


  • The first part of this lesson will take 45 minutes to one hour.
  • The second part of this lesson will take 30-45 minutes after the 5-day experiment has concluded.

Curriculum Standards


Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.


Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.


  • Two small, healthy potted plants with larger leaves for each group of students
  • Enough construction paper squares (cut a little bigger than the size of a leaf) for each group to fully cover all the leaves of one plant
  • Paperclips
  • One piece of notebook paper per student
  • One piece of white construction paper per student
  • Pencils, colored pencils, crayons
  • Stapler

Key Vocabulary

  • Photosynthesis
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Oxygen
  • Glucose


Part One

  • Show students a picture of a plant or a live plant and ask them to think about what they already know about plants, particularly that they are living, and living things need food. Have the class brainstorm ideas explaining how a plant gets its food. Record their ideas on the board.
  • Read and discuss the text lesson Photosynthesis Equation Lesson for Kids.
  • Write the key vocabulary words on the board. Discuss what each terms means in relation to photosynthesis, and the products it creates.
  • Give each student a piece of notebook paper and have them copy the photosynthesis equation in the lesson at the top of their paper. Ask them what they think would happen to a plant if water was taken out of the equation. Record their answers on the board.
  • Repeat that process for carbon dioxide.
  • Now ask students to think about what happens to the process of photosynthesis if sunlight is not available. Below the photosynthesis equation, have them write a hypothesis stating what they think will happen to a plant if it can't get the sunlight it needs. Encourage them to use the key terms in their hypothesis and share a few of their answers.
  • Break the class into groups of 3 or 4 students each (depending on the size of the class) and give each of group two of the same potted plant. Have students observe the plants, and discuss what they see (leaf color, soil condition, etc.) and how it relates to what they know about photosynthesis.
  • Pass out one piece of construction paper to each student and have them fold the paper in half horizontally (hamburger fold). On the top half of the paper, ask them to use colored pencils or crayons to illustrate their hypothesis and draw a picture of what they think a leaf would look like after 5 days with no sun. Staple the notebook paper with the hypothesis to the illustration and collect for later use.
  • Give each group enough pre-cut construction paper squares and paperclips to cover all the leaves of one plant. Students will place a piece of construction paper over the leaf and paperclip it so that it stays. When they are finished, one plant will have all its leaves covered in construction paper squares and the other will have its leaves exposed.
  • Put all the plants in a place where they will receive bright sun for the next 5-7 days. During those days, have students check the plants to see if they need water, and discuss any observations they make regarding the difference in the plants, but do not remove the construction paper squares.

Part Two

  • After 5-7 days, review part one of the photosynthesis lesson, including the lesson and the key vocabulary terms.
  • Break students back into their groups and return their plants to them. Ask them to carefully remove the construction paper squares and observe the leaves of that plant. Discuss their observations.
  • Pass out their hypothesis papers and ask them to illustrate what they see on the bottom half of the folded construction paper, below their first illustration.
  • When they finish their illustration, have them write a conclusion about what really happened, using the key vocabulary terms, and if their initial hypothesis was correct.
  • Ask them what happens when sunlight is taken out of the photosynthesis equation. Discuss their observations, hypotheses and conclusions to check for understanding.

Lesson Extension

If you choose, you may put the plants back in the sunny space for another 5 days without the construction paper squares and ask students to write and illustrate another hypothesis about what will happen to that plant. After 5 days, observe the plants and ask them to compare their hypothesis and illustration to the actual plant and write a conclusion. Discuss their observations, hypotheses and conclusions.

Related Lessons

Chlorophyll and Photosynthesis Reactions

Vascular and Nonvascular Plants Lessons for Kids

Arctic Plants Lessons for Kids

Bring more science lessons to life in your classroom with ready-to-go science lesson plans.

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.