For a great introduction to plants make a plant needs poster showing what a plant needs to grow. Then plant a terrarium containing all the ecosystem necessary for plant growth.
- potting soil
- one or two small plants
- a large clear jar with a lid or plastic wrap and a rubber band in place of a lid
- a tablespoonful of all purpose fertilizer or compost
- about a ½ cup of water, depending on how much soil and the size of your jar.
- Poster board
Begin by asking the kids what plants need to live. The kids will have most of the ideas. As they say each component glue the word strip to the poster board and have them draw pictures to go with what you’re talking about. Talk about some specific aspects of plants as explained below. You can go into more detail in future lessons.
When you have finished discussing plant basics, add the soil, plants, fertilizer, and water to the jar. Put the lid on and set it in a windowsill out of direct sunlight. Keep an eye on your plant for several weeks. It shouldn’t need to be watered for quite awhile since it is in a closed ecosystem.
What Plants Need
- Soil: Plants need a place to put down their roots and a place where they can extract nutrients. That is what the soil is for. The quality of your soil will determine how well your plants grow.
- Water: All living things need water. Plants use water to keep their cells full and rigid. If a plant is short on water it droops down. We call this wilting. The water also dissolves the nutrients from the soil, which makes it possible for the plants to get the nutrients along with the water.
- Nutrients: The three main nutrients plants need are Phosphorus, Potassium, and Nitrogen. These are the main ingredients in commercial fertilizer. Plants also need small amounts of many other nutrients. We call these “micro-nutrients”.
- Respiration: Plants breathe in carbon dioxide (CO2) and they breathe out oxygen (O2). Animals including humans do the opposite so we need each other. It’s called a cycle.
- Photosynthesis: Plants use sunlight to make food. Water and the nutrients from the soil are also part of the food making. The food plants make is called starch. Animals eat the plants for energy.
- Learn about the components of soil.
- Photosynthesis is a chemical reaction fueled by sunlight. It’s much easier to understand if you know a little bit about the periodic table and chemical reactions.
- Immortalize your plant in a jar experiment with this art project that goes along perfectly.
- Do a plant survey in your backyard or a nearby field to see how various plants are distributed.
- Get outside and collect some plant leaves and flowers using this backpack plant press.
- Do a simple plant pigment experiment to see the chlorophyll in a leaf.