A plant is a biological system that needs sunlight, water, air, nutrients, and space for functioning and growing. In this inquiry-based activity, students design experiments to explore what happens when a plant’s basic needs are unmet.
This is one of 96 activities that can be found in PLT’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide. To get the activity, attend a training either in person or online and receive PLT’s PreK-8 Guide. Below are some supporting resources for this activity.
Every month we carefully select new tools and resources that enhance PLT’s lessons. These include educational apps, videos, posters, interactive websites, careers information, and teacher-generated materials. Browse a chronological listing below:
Seeds Are Smart
The Jeffers Foundation, whose mission is to foster environmental stewardship through education, has created several instructional videos for children-at-home on various environmental topics. For example, in Seeds are Smart, children look at different types and shapes of seeds, learn where seeds come from and how to identify them, how seeds are an important part of a squirrel’s diet, and ways seeds get carried, for example, by a bird or with the wind. This video pairs well with PLT’s activity called Have Seeds, Will Travel that teaches children about plant reproduction and seed dispersal. Whether floating on the air, getting carried by animals, or catching waves, plants use many techniques to send their seeds far and wide. Also check out our suggestions to enrich the activity with a focus on STEM, and our Family Activity adaptation.
Ag Across America
Ag Across America is an online geography game for grades 3-5. With this game, students will learn more about how farms provide our food, fiber, and energy. The game guides students through a series of video and trivia questions about farms across the U.S. When you answer correctly, players collect items to have on their own virtual farm. Find more games and resources for young learners at My American Farm, and professional development opportunities for educators through On the Farm STEM.
Plants Also Need Proper Nutrition
Designed by the International Plant Nutrition Institute, these games for grades K-5 teach students about naturally occurring nutrients that plants use for food. Combined with this infographic poster, the games guide students to think more about how plants get their nutrients.
Pee Wee Meets the Pollinators
This illustrated children’s story takes students on an adventure to a rooftop garden to learn about the amazing work of pollinators. Witness the birth of a monarch butterfly, follow a bee, and meet a chorus of crickets. The book also contains poems, songs as well as additional notes to benefit teachers, parents, and children. To purchase Pee Wee Meets the Pollinators or other books in the Pee Wee series visit Castle Compost.
Ask a Biologist
Digitally bring a professional into your classroom with Arizona State University’s Ask a Biologist. Students can use the Ask a Biologist’s web resources to learn about and research many different environmental issues. Multiple activities, stories, images, and links are also available for educators to use and build lessons around.
This site, from the Water Education Foundation, provides graphics and text on topics including the water cycle, surface water vs. groundwater, the Earth’s water supply, and water conservation. Their mission is to create a better understanding of water issues and to help resolve water resource problems through educational programs.
Teaching the Food System
Resources from The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future introduces students to food-system topics and issues. Explore questions such as: What are the strengths and weaknesses of local food systems? How is our food supply dependent on ecosystems? Find slides, handouts, and other supplemental materials on their Teaching the Food System website.
Earth from Space
This Smithsonian Institution website provides students (and teachers!) access to views of conditions and events on earth that are nearly impossible to document from the Earth’s surface. The site proves interactive; explaining how satellite imagery is gathered and used to better understand the world around us.
Think Garden Video Series
This Think Garden video collection was produced by Kentucky Educational Television for elementary students as a teaching tool about growing food and all elements around food gardening. Consider using it to support PLT GreenWorks! or GreenSchools projects as we enter the growing season.
The Secret Life of Trees
This animated presentation for students in grades 3-5 explains in detail how an acorn becomes a tree. The audio is available in English and Spanish.
A free app that can be downloaded onto Apple or Android devices. This is a good tool for teachers and classrooms. Easily create bar, line and pie charts that you can customize, save and e-mail or upload. The charts you create can be saved using multiple color schemes and in multiple sizes. The app also works without an internet connection.
Digital Game: The Ruby Realm
The Ruby Realm is a multi-level adventure game about photosynthesis. Players must navigate a cavern in search of missing friends. Luckily, Biobot Bob– a robot powered by artificial photosynthesis– is there to help payers fend off evil enemies. Players must find light sources where Bob can generate the glucose he needs for power. Using Bob’s Molecule Replicator, they shoot light beams at carbon dioxide and water molecules, breaking them apart and recombining the atoms to form glucose. Through these and similar actions, the game helps students construct an understanding of photosynthesis by letting them actively participate in the process of chemical change.
Epic! For Educators
Are you looking for new literature connections to support your favorite PLT lessons? This growing Epic! online library offers thousands of picture books, chapter books, early readers, and even nonfiction books (think Common Core Connections!) that elementary teachers can access free of cost. Registered users receive unlimited access to books and customized recommendations for readers’ age levels and interests. Epic! is available for iPads, iPhones, and Android devices.