Target Grade Level / Age Range:
3 rd-5 th Grade
Students will learn plant, seed, and flower parts and their functions.
- Plant Match game cards (printed 4 per page for a desktop game)
- Flipboard paper
- Resources for students to discover the functions and locations of plant parts (see suggested companion resources) – books, models, Internet, etc.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Growing Flowers Series by Gail Saunders-Smith: Seeds, Stems, Leaves and/or Flowers.
- DK Eyewitness Books: Plant
- American Museum of Natural History parts of a flower: http://www.amnh.org/learn/biodiversity_counts/ident_help/Parts_Plants/parts_of_flower.htm
- From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons
- Parts of a Plant Video by Smart learning for All: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6TLFZUC9gI
- The Great Plant Escape website by the University of Illinois: http://extension.illinois.edu/gpe/case1/c1facts2a.html
- Stewardship - Caring for the soil, water, and plants on Earth.
- Flower -- attract pollinators and contain plant reproductive parts
- Leaves – convert sunlight to energy through photosynthesis
- Stem – carry water, minerals and sugars throughout the plant
- Root – anchor and support of plant, absorption, storage
- Pod – contains and helps to disperse seeds
- Seed – protect the embryo from which a new plant grows
- Seed Coat – cover and protect the seed
- Cotyledon -provides energy for germinating seed & becomes the first leaves in beans and peas.
- Radicle – stem of a germinating seedling
- Hilum – the scar on a bean seed marking the attachment to the pod
- Petals – provide a platform for pollinators and protect reproductive parts
- Sepals – protect and support petals
- Ovule – contain ovary that will develop into a seed
- Pistil/carpel – pollen receiving part of the flower; female reproductive part
- Stamen – produce pollen grains; male reproductive part
Background – Agricultural Connections
Plant growth and lifecycles are extremely important for farmers to understand. Each part of the plant has an important function in developing the harvested part of the crop. Some crops, like corn and soybeans, are grown to harvest the seed. Others are grown to harvest the leaves or stems. However, throughout the lifetime of the plant, all parts contribute to successful growth and development of crop.
Carrot farmers need to know a lot about roots, because the part of the carrot we eat is the root! The stems and leaves are not eaten, but the leaves are necessary for photosynthesis to create food and let that root grow.
Avocados and green beans are fruits, because we eat the part of the plant that contains and protects the seed.
Celery is an example of a stem that we eat.
Broccoli is an example of a flower that we eat.
All of these different parts of the plant require different treatment from the farmer’s perspective, and also require different equipment to plant and harvest. A corn harvester wouldn’t be able to harvest potatoes or carrots or peanuts, because they are harvested out of the soil.
Knowing the functions of plant parts can also give farmers insight into problems the plant may be having. Shallow corn roots signify compaction or too much rain. Yellowing leaves are a sign of nitrogen deficiency. A small number of seeds, or kernels, on a corn cob can be a result of drought or insect damage to the silks. For farmers to solve these problems, they have to know about the plant parts and find the real root of the problem, and then act accordingly.
Understanding plant parts is also important for stewardship, because knowledge of the roots and leaves can help farmers keep soil and water healthy and clean. Farmers know that planting plants with deep roots can help stop nutrient runoff, because those deep roots can reach more nutrients and will filter them out of soil and water. Knowing how plants’ leaves work helps farmers know when to apply herbicides (weed killers). When the canopy closes in a field, or the leaves from the plants in the field span across the soil and almost touch, it is no longer necessary to apply herbicides – the leaves from the crop shade the weeds and they won’t be able to grow as well.
Interest Approach or Motivator
Ask students to debate whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. Discuss the traits that make a fruit a fruit – does a tomato fit those? Does a cucumber? What conclusions can students draw about the word “fruit” and the word “vegetable?” Talk with students about their favorite fruits or vegetables, and ask them to decide what plant part they represent.
- After facilitating a student discussion about fruits and vegetables, ask students to name the other parts of the plant. These should be leaves, stem, roots, seed and flower.
- Divide the class into three groups, and assign each group one of the following part groups: 1) flower, 2) seed and fruit, or 3) stem, leaves and roots. Pass out vocabulary cards of the individual parts of each plant part (example: flower group would get pistil, stamen, petals, etc.) with no definitions.
- Have each group draw a diagram of their plant part(s) on the large writing surface. The picture must include all of the parts on the vocabulary cards they were given. While students are drawing, pass out resources to students to reference.
- Have students use the resources to label the parts and write a description of each part’s function.
- Have each group teach the class about their plant parts and functions, using their drawing.
- Ask students why it is important for farmers to understand the how plants function. Facilitate a discussion of what might happen to the plants, specific plant parts and agriculture production if there is a drought, flood, hail storm, or nutrient deficiency.
- For example, ask students what would happen to carrots on a wet year. Carrots would be shorter than normal, because they wouldn’t have to grow as deep into the soil to get moisture. Or, hail would damage the leaves of the plant, which would affect photosynthesis would decrease yield.
- Discuss plant protection practices and how those effect the various parts of a plant.
- For example, seed treatments protect the seed from insects, and insecticides protect the leaves, stem and reproductive parts of the plants from insects. Why is it important to protect all of these parts? What would happen to the plant if farmers didn’t protect them from insects, what would happen to the plant? Herbicides kill weeds. What will happen to the crop if there are too many weeds? What plant part does this effect?
- Shuffle the plant match cards.
- Still in groups, ask students to pair up. Each group should have no more than three pairs of students.
- Pass out a shuffled deck of plant match cards to each group. Have the teams set them out face down in a 5x6 grid on the floor.
- Pairs will take turns flipping over two cards. If the function and plant part match, they take the cards out of the grid and get to flip over two more. If the function and plant part do not match, the players must turn the cards face down once more and the next pair gets to turn over two cards.
- The pair with the most correct pairings wins the game.
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- Use this game as a fun review activity throughout the year.
- Have students build a plant with all of the main plant parts (stem, leaves, roots, fruit and flower) using fruits and vegetables.
Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation
Agriculture Literacy Outcomes
- Theme 1:
- Grades 3-5: Identify how the interaction of the sun, soil, water and weather in plant and animal growth impacts agricultural production.
- Theme 2:
- Grades 3-5: Understand the concept of stewardship and identify ways farmers/ranchers care for soil, water, plants and animals.
Education Content Standards
- Iowa Core Science:
- 3-LS1-1. Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.
- 4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
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