MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Exploring Plants Through Hands on Exploration

Exploring Plants Through Hands on Exploration

Bernadette Heaney-Deuel
Park Center High School
Brooklyn Park, MN
Author Profile


In this activity students will be exploring what they know and don't know about plants in a natural setting. Before any teaching of plants has been done, students will use observation skill to complete a survey of a natural plant area. A follow up exploration will be done at the end of the plant unit to evaluate the student's knowledge and progress.

Learning Goals

  1. Students will strengthen observation skills.
  2. Students will be able to apply their learned knowledge of plants in a real setting.
  3. Students will be able to use correctly the words learned in class such as: simple, compound, opposite, and alternate.

Context for Use

Location: outdoors
Time: at least two sections of 30 minutes
Equipment: paper and pencil, students could use hand lenses, cameras, identification keys

Subject: Biology
Resource Type: Activities:Field Activity
Special Interest: Field-Based Teaching and Learning
Grade Level: High School (9-12), Middle (6-8)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Enhancing your Teaching:Teaching in the Field

Description and Teaching Materials

In this activity students will be exploring what they know and don't know about plants in a natural setting. Before any teaching of plants is done have students go outside to a natural area (an edge of a building that isn't as short as the field can also work). Have students complete a "Bio Blitz." The time and amount of data you would like them to collect is up to you, but give students time to really explore. I would suggest at least 30 minutes. Students in small groups will go and collect data describing the differences and similarities of plants, their color, shape, spacing, scent, the relative amounts, shapes of leaves, how leaves are constructed, and any general observation that they can think of. Each group will then use this data to create a description of the area they explored.

At the end of the unit, the students will repeat this activity again, either in the same area or a different area. This time test the students' knowledge of what they have recently learned in class; the things they observe can be more scripted, made up of questions or a data sheet that you create for them, based on what you have been learning and what you would like to be evaluating them on.

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity is a helpful way to see what your students may already know about plants.


This activity allows you to assess any area of what you have been teaching by allowing you to design the activity outcomes that best suites your class.


9-12.IV.B.1 - Diversity of Life
9-12.IV.C.3,4 - Interdependance of Life

References and Resources