Getting Ready to Teach
This Plants curriculum supplement is designed for 3 weeks of hands-on and digital (iPad) learning experiences. Let's get ready! Take time to familiarize yourself with this Teachers Guide. Read about how to Get Ready to Teach Science, review the unit's Learning Objectives and lesson plans. Also check out the activities under We Can All Be Scientists, which introduce children to what being a scientist means and can be implemented prior to the plants unit. Next, gather the materials listed below and on each activity page, and review the steps for preparing for the unit.
The activities in each lesson can be completed in the time frame that works best for your classroom and schedule, whether all in one day or spread over several days. Each lesson organizes the activities by different times in the daily schedule.
Before the Unit Begins…
Plant Some Seeds Early
Roll up your sleeves and explore! A week before you introduce the planting activities to the children, gather seeds and planting materials. "Plant" a few seeds yourself, in a plastic sandwich bag along with a moist paper towel, and observe how the seeds sprout and grow. Plant some seeds in soil as well. (Remember, when planting the seeds in soil, do not plant them too deep!) Plants need warmth, water, and light in order to grow. If possible, clear a space near a warm, sunny window for your children's plants.
The day before the first lesson, soak 2 bean seeds per child, plus several more, in water. Also soak 2 other seeds per child (e.g. sunflower, nasturtium, radish, cat oats, chickpeas or lentils). Soaking the seed in water overnight will help them sprout in 2-4 days and poke through the soil in about 1 week.
The seeds suggested (see Materials list below) can grow quickly with the right amount of sunlight, warmth, and water, so children should have plenty to observe during the 3-week unit. Adapt the schedule as needed if the plants are growing particularly slowly.
Tips for Planting Seeds in Soil
- Soak bean seeds, sunflower seeds, and the other seed/s you have selected overnight, in cool water, in preparation for planting. This will make them germinate more quickly. (Or, follow the instructions on the seed packet.)
- Poke holes in the bottom of plastic planting containers. These holes allow extra water to drain out of the container. They also allow the soil to soak up water from the bowl in which the planting container sits.
- Fill the plastic containers most of the way with potting soil, then spray water on the soil to make it moist. Place 2-3 pre-soaked seeds on top of the soil, then cover the seed with a light coat of soil. Spray the soil on top of the seeds with water. The soil above and below the seeds should be thoroughly moist.
- Place the containers near a warm, sunny window. Check the moisture of the soil daily. If the soil feels dry, spray it with the water sprayer.
Guided Small Group iPads
We recommend choosing and marking one specific iPad to use with all 4 Guided Small Groups during the plants unit. There is a different section within the app for each group to record their data. Using one iPad for all the groups makes it possible to compare photo entries from any group on a single tablet, using the Compare Class Plants tool in the Plants Journal app.
Download these Early Science apps onto your iPads. Familiarize yourself with each digital game and journal app. Before each use, make sure the iPads are charged and that the volume is adjusted appropriately. If you prefer NOT to use the in-app character audio, turn the iPad volume off.
- Wonder Farm Dice Game
- Bean Growth Sequence Cards
- My Bean Seed (drawing sheet and Plant Part sticker labels)
- From Seed to Plant (drawing sheet and Plant Part sticker labels)
- Plant Measuring Strip
- Nature Scavenger Hunt
- Snacks With Seeds Picture Cards
- Dig a Little Hole Lyrics
- Five Little Plants Lyrics
- This Is the Way We Plant the Seeds Lyrics
- The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss
- One Bean, by Anne Rockwell
- A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds, by Jean Richards
- Plants Feed Me, by Lizzy Rockwell
- 4 iPads and chargers
- Projector and speakers, if available
- Planting and Plant Care
- Dry kidney beans (or red beans or pinto beans). Dry kidney beans can be bought in the grocery store.
- 2-4 additional types of seeds to sprout. Suggested seeds include: chickpea and/or lentils (from grocery store); sunflower, nasturtium, radish (from seed packets), cat grass/cat oats (from pet store)
- Clear plastic 16-oz. deli containers (3" high) in which to plant seeds. You will need 8 containers (2 for each group) plus a few extra.
- Disposable plastic bowls or plates, to place under the plant containers
- "Organic" potting soil
- A cup for filling the containers with soil
- Water spray bottle
- Sealable plastic sandwich bags
- Paper towels
- Adhesive color-coded labels (orange, yellow, green, blue) for the sandwich bags and containers in which each small group's seeds and beans are planted. Alternatively, masking tape or adhesive labels can be used and marked with color-coded markers
- Thin wooden dowels to attach as support to Measuring Strips (8 per classroom)
- Unifix® cubes
- Other Activities
- 3" x 3" x 3" cardboard gift boxes to make into dice for the Wonder Farm dice game (2 dice per classroom)
- Full-sheet sticker paper for printing stickers to make the dice (Wonder Farm dice game)
- Clear mailing labels (Avery 5630) for printing the Plant Parts sticker labels 1" x 2 5/8" (30 labels per sheet)
- Card stock for the Plant Measuring Strip and the Wonder Farm Dice Game game board and cards. (Laminating is suggested, if available.)
- Chart paper and markers, for teacher
- Drawing supplies: crayons, colored pencils, and/or markers
- White glue for gluing beans on picture frames, etc.
- Glue sticks
- Cotton twine, yarn, or raffia
- White drawing paper
- Colored paper
- Small squares of paper (or sticky notes) for drawing ingredients of salad
- Bowls for sorting seeds
- Circles of string or hula hoops (one for each group, approximately 1-3 feet in diameter.)
- Mat board for picture frames
- Photo paper for class printer (if printing the photos in the classroom)
- Optional: Magnifying glass
- Optional: Magnetic board or flannel board for the Bean Grow Sequence Cards
- Optional: Magnetic tape, Velcro or felt to glue to the back of the Bean Grow Sequence Cards
- Plastic wrap
- 2-3 apples
- 2-3 sweet bell peppers
- 2-4 bananas
- 2-3 kiwis and/or tomatoes, or other fruit or vegetable with many small seeds
- 2-3 oranges and/or 1 cucumber or other fruit or vegetable with medium-size seeds
- Peach, nectarine, plum, and/or avocado (fruit or vegetable with a single large pit)
- Fresh vegetables — choose examples of produce that comes from the leaves, roots, stems, fruits and seeds of plants, e.g.: lettuce, parsley; carrot, radish; celery, asparagus; cucumber; fresh peas
- Knife and cutting board for teacher use
- Salad buffet bowls or plates for bite-sized pieces of each ingredient
- Disposable plate or bowl for each child to assemble his/her own salad
- Optional: Salad dressing