Plant Field Study: Adaptations of Plants for Survival in Different Environments
In this field lab, students investigate plant adaptations by observing plants in different environments (water plants, trees, grasses, moss, and shrubs). Students then compare the plants to show similarities and differences. A class discussion will help the students learn about the adaptations plants need in order to survive in different environments.
Students will explain how certain physical properties of plant parts help a plant survive in its environment. Vocabulary discussed will include: shrub, moss, adaptation.
Key concepts: Plants are adapted to live in different environments. These adaptations help a plant get the food, water and other things it needs to survive.
Context for Use
Resource Type: Activities:Field Activity
Special Interest: Field-Based Teaching and Learning
Grade Level: Intermediate (3-5)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Enhancing your Teaching:Teaching in the Field
Description and Teaching Materials
Field Study – Break class into six groups. Give each group a specific type of plant to study: water plant, tree, flowering plant, grass, moss, or shrub. Each group member should find a specific plant in his/her category and do some observations. They should record 10 observations, and include a labeled sketch. Students should meet back with their groups and share their observations with group members. Each student should create a t-chart in his/her notebook, showing similarities and differences in the group's type of plants. After discussion, each student should answer this question, "How is _____________ (type of plant) adapted to where it lives? Each group should then prepare to present their findings to the rest of the class using chart paper.
Class Discussion – Each group will share the information they have gathered. Discuss with the class the different adaptations plants have for living in different environments. Students should record in their notebooks three adaptations they have discovered.
This activity is adapted from an introductory lesson in Macmillan McGraw-Hill science textbook, grade 5, Chapter 2 – Plant Structure and Functions, Lesson 3 – Roots, Stems and Leaves.
Teaching Notes and Tips
In the past, I have introduced this unit with the activity in the book – photographs of three different plants are observed and a worksheet was filled out to show the students' answers to specific questions. This new adapted activity is more inquiry based with students observing plants in the environment right outside our school.
Living things are diverse with many different characteristics that enable them to grow, reproduce and survive.