MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Plant Science Inquiry: From Seed to Flower

Plant Science Inquiry: From Seed to Flower

Elizebeth Wheeler, ACGC South Elementary, Cosmos, Minnesota
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In this plant-science activity, first graders will compare and contrast a variety of flower, fruit and tree seeds. They will plant three flower seeds (same variety) and observe changes by keeping a log book to note these changes as it grows over a period of 8-10 weeks.

Learning Goals

This activity is designed for students to:
1. Practice inquiry skills by developing questions about seeds, planting them and noting details about how they change as they grow.
2. Observe the growth of a flower seed, using a hand lens and ruler over an 8-10 week period.
3. Use a log book to note changes by writing words and pictures to describe and label what they see as the flower "sprouts", and develops a "stem", "leaves", "bud" and "petal". They will learn the name of their flower and those grown by classmates.

Context for Use

This is a first grade science class activity that lasts 8-10 weeks. It can be done in a small or large group setting.

Subject: Biology
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity, Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Primary (K-2)

Description and Teaching Materials

1. An assortment of flower seeds in a clear bag. Some suggestions: Marigold, Cosmos, Petunia, Daisy, Moss Rose, etc.
2. Second group of seeds ( an acorn, pinecone, watermelon, orange, apple, green pepper, sunflower, and some flower seeds that are not the same as the ones in the first assortment.
3. Class calendar (any freebie calendar from a business or bank will do)

For each student:
4. Small vial
5. Hand lens
6. Log book
7. Colored pencils
8. Styrofoam cup
9. Potting soil
10. Water
11. Ruler

1. Show students a clear bag containing an assortment of seeds. Ask: What questions can you come up with about what's in my bag? Remind them that a question begins with words like what, how, is, etc. List the questions as they pose them. Hopefully, they will come up with some of the following questions: What are these? What are they for? Where do they come from? Discuss some of the answers to the questions and then discuss: What could you grow from these seeds? (list students answers without confirming or rejecting any of them). Tell them that they are going to pick a seed from the bag and look at it carefully. They will put it into a vial and put the hand lens on the top of the vial to get a good look.

2. When they've had time to observe, have them share and compare their seed with a partner/neighbor (hopefully one who has chosen a different seed than theirs).

3. Have students write words to describe what their seed looks like on the first page of their log book. Have them use inventive spelling making sure to write at the bottom what they intend for it to say if it is difficult to read. Then have them draw their seed. They can draw it to size and/or draw it enlarged as it looks under the hand lens.

Review drawing tips:
a. Look for shapes
b. Light and dark spaces
c. Size
d. Contrast and shading

4. Call group together in a sharing circle. After students have shared their observations, discuss some of the differences in the seeds. Write their observations down on the board.

5. Next, show them a variety of fruit, tree and flower seeds and identify what each seed will grow into. Then ask them if they think they know what their own seed will grow. Ask: Is your seed like any of these seeds? (they may see that theirs is like the flower seeds in at least size). Tell them that they will each grow their flower seed and we are going to watch and keep track of any changes that may occur.

6. Model in large group, the procedure they will use to plant their seed (and 2 more of the SAME variety to ensure that they get at least one flower), label their cup, clean up and store it for the weeks to come. Hang a calendar near the area and note the planting date and when each student has a sprout.

7. Have them draw what their plant looks like taking care to keep count of the days, noting it on their log sheet (Day 1, Day 2 etc.) As their plant grows, have them draw, measure and note any changes twice a week. Some reminders will be needed to note the shape and number of the leaves as they go along. Discuss the flower parts as they develop, stem, leaf, bud, petal, blossom, etc.

8. Continue noting changes until everyone (or most everyone) has a flower that has gone to seed, perhaps 8-10 weeks.

Teaching Notes and Tips

The log book pages should include a place for the date and Day # (Day ___, Day ___, etc.), drawing space, and lines for description and measurements. Two pages can be put on an 8.5X11 piece of paper. The cover page should contain a place to write their inquiry question and name and include 8-10 log pages (2 days on each page).


The log book is the major assessment for this activity. It should contain a question on the front cover, descriptive words, drawings, dates and day #'s on log pages showing how their flower seed grew.


IV Life Science, B. Organisms, D. Heredity
The student will observe plant and animal life cycles.
Benchmark: 1.The student will observe and describe how plants and animals grow and change.
The student will understand that there is variation among individuals of one kind within a population.
Benchmarks: 1. The student will describe ways in which many plants and animals closely resemble but are not identical to their parents.

References and Resources