Experimenting With Needs for Plants

I recently introduced my kindergarten daughter to the scientific method of experiments, including the process of isolating a variable, while teaching the concepts of the essential needs of plants.  However, the process was simple and an activity that many teachers use–the "talk time" was the productive teaching time, as well as observing the results. 

First we soaked pinto bean seeds until the seed coat was split.  We looked inside to see the "baby plant."  Then we planted seeds in bowls and let them grow for a week or two. 

Then we made a list of what plants need:  air, water, sunlight, and soil.  We made a label for each plant, eliminating one of the "ingredients."

*1–This plant got everything it needed.  This was our "control group."

*2–This plant had no air.  It went in a clear ziplock bag, so that we could quickly open the bag to give it water and it sat in a sunny place.  It was in soil.

*3–This plant had no water.  It was planted in soil, placed in a sunny place, ang got water.

*4–This plant had no sunlight.  It was planted in soil, got water and air, but we placed it in a dark closet.

*5–This plant had no soil.  We removed the plant from the original bowl and rinsed off the roots in tap water.  We placed it into a cup of cool water.  The plant got sunlight and air, but no soil.

Because of her level, we did not do any recording.  It was mainly a daily "check and talk."  Adding a simple record sheet for daily recording by writing or drawing could incorporate more formal observation to the process.  In our daily check and talk, we were able to integrate the functions of the parts of plants and talk about why the stems went mushy or the leaves turned yellow. 

After about a week or so, we placed all the plants on a table and made cards to label them.  We took photographs to place in our homeschool yearbook and to keep as a record of what happens to plants if they do not get what they need.  We had a great time with this experiment–and I had all the supplies around the house!


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