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Celebrate Earth Day With Plants and Seeds

With Earth Day quickly approaching, I would like for you to take a minute to look at the Environmental Health Unit, I wrote as well as some of the ideas about plants and seeds I am posting here. There are also a ton of ideas that Scholastic put together for you in Caring For The Environment You will find many ideas that you can use in your own classroom to help celebrate the day we celebrate our Earth!

Parts of a Plant  (Information for the teacher)

  • Flowers : Produce the seed to make more plants.
  • Leaves:  Uses the water and minerals to make food for the plant
  • Stem:  It supports the plant and carries food and water to the other parts.  Stems can be small or large  like a house plant or a tree trunk.
  • Roots:  Hold the plant in the ground and absorb water and minerals from the soil.

The Secrets Inside a Lima Bean (Questions to ask and information for the teacher)

  • Pass out a dry lima bean to students.  How would you describe this seed?
  • The white spot on the outside of a seed is where the seed was attached to the plant it came from.
  • If this seed was soaked overnight, how do you think it would change?  Pass out a soaked lima bean to students.
  • How would you describe the soaked seed?
  • How does it compare with the seed that wasn’t soaked?
  • Why does soaking a seed cause it to change? Seeds absorb water when they are soaked. The water causes many chemical changes inside the seed.
  • Have each student take the seed coat off with a toothpick and split their lima bean in half.  What do you notice inside of the seed?
  • Why do you think a seed has different parts?
  • When a seed is soaked, the seed coat swells and the embryo begins to grow.  The embryo is the part of the seed from which the mature plant develops. The little plant inside is what grows into the big plant. The food storage tissue, or cotyledon, is the largest part of the bean and stores food for the embryo. The seed coat protects the embryo (the tiny plant) until it’s time to grow and it protects food storage tissue from injury, insects and loss of water.
  • A seed is a baby plant wrapped in a very special package.  This package has a hard shell that protects the tiny plant.  This package hold food for the new plant to use until it grows leaves and can make its own food.  There is a small hole in the shell.  This hole lets water go inside the seed.  If the seed is kept dry, the baby plant will not grow.  Once water gets inside, the baby plant gets bigger and pushes it way out of the shell. 

Growing Individual Plants With Students (Questions to ask and information for the teacher)

  • Put tiny pebbles in the bottom of cups you are planting in to assist with drainage.
  • In a hurry for seeds to sprout?  Put plant cups in a plastic cake container to make a greenhouse or use a see though plastic to-go container from a restaurant.
  • Use egg carton compartments to plant seeds, perhaps four for each student to make sure that each child will have a plant that grows.
  • Have students keep track of plant growth using plant diaries and a paper strip graph.
  • Questions to ask students:  What happen to your bean since you last saw it?  What did your sprout look like at first?  How did it change as it grew?  Why are these changes taking place?    What happens to change a bean into a plant? 

Seeds (Information for the teacher)

  • The largest seed is 50lbs from the double coconut tree.  Orchid seeds are so tiny that 800,00 seeds weigh no more than one ounce.  The giant redwood tree develops from a seed that is only 1/16" long.
  • Seeds we can see in food we eat: apples, grapes, peaches, apricot, avocado, grapefruit, watermelon, sunflower, cucumber, shelled peanuts, popcorn, snow peas, orange, coconut, strawberries, walnut, pinecone, lima bean, tomato.
  • Cut open different fruits and vegetables and remove the seeds and place them on a paper plate.  Describe the size, shape and color of the seeds.  Count the number of seeds and make a bar graph comparing the number of seeds you found in different fruits. 
  • Students can begin a seed collection in an egg carton.  They can label the source of each seed.
  • For observation, put a different type of dry seed in each container of an ice-tray or egg carton.  Place wide, clear tape over each row.  Turn the container upside down so the seeds stick to the tape.  Label each section with a sharpie and provide a magnifying glass for student to examine the seeds.
  • Have students sort and glue an assortment of seeds according to size, shape or color
  • Weighing Seeds:  how many apple seeds (and other seeds) does it take to equal a avocado pit?

More Activities

  • Create a long chart from butcher paper displaying plants growing above and below the ground.
  • Conduct a nature hunt and then have students categorize what they collected; twigs, seeds, leaves etc.
  • Have students create a flower for their own plant shop.  Illustrate different types of plants and or flowers and their prices
  • Have students create a garden using tissue paper, construction paper, fabric pieces, sequins, pipe cleaners etc. to make it bursting with color and creativity
  • Have students go to the yard and pull a weed plant up from its roots.  Glue and label each of the parts on paper.
  • Play Grandma’s Garden ABC game: I went to Grandma’s garden and brought back...apple, butterfly, carrot, dirt, eggplant, fencing, gloves, hose, insects etc.
  • Discuss Plant Idioms: Fresh as a daisy.  Sweet as a rose.  Every thing is coming up roses.  Grows like a weed.  Soft as a petal.
  • Read Jack and the Bean Stalk: Jack planted a magic bean seed and climbed on what it grew into the clouds for an exciting adventure.  Draw a picture of your magic been seed and what it will grow.  Then write an adventure about what happens.

Books I Like To Use

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Kraus,

Johnny Appleseed: A Tall Tale by Steven Kellogg

Growing Vegetable Soup & Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Plants That Never Ever Bloom & The Reason For A Flower by Ruth Heller

My Favorite Earth Day Display

I take photographs of each of my students in different positions that show them “holding the Earth”. I print them on my printer in black and white on regular paper sized 8x10. I carefully cut out around each student’s body and glue the picture and the Earth cutout they colored on background paper. You can see in the two photos I uploaded one will be holding the earth on her finger, which is pointed upward and one will have her arm over it by her side. The students come up with all kinds of ideas; both hands above their head, sitting next to their earth, balancing it on their nose etc. I then hang these photos with  a header that says “We Love  Our Earth Do You?” I also like to add gorgeous pictures of nature scenes from around our planet. It makes a beautiful display.

Lily Holding Earth

Miranda Holding Earth

One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade.~ Chinese Proverb



I'd love to see a photo of your finished Earth Day display!



I will be sure to post it when I get it all completed!

Comments are closed. Please see Classroom Solutions, our new blog for the 2009-2010 school year. And stay tuned for Teaching Matters with Angela Bunyi and Beth Newingham.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Inside Jennifer's 1st Grade Classroom are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.