There are two parts to a seed, the embryo or little plant and the seed or outer covering of the seed. The outer covering protects the little plant inside the seed. The food inside a plant is stored in the cotyledon. Cotyledons are the leaves which are attached to the little plant or embryo inside the seed. When the seed starts to grow, one part of the embryo becomes the root while the other becomes the shoot or upper part of the stem and leaves.
Lesson No. 4
Objective: To study the parts of a seed and sprout.
What to do...
Soak some lima beans over night. Place one seed in each finger of a clear plastic glove. Hang the plastic gloves in a bright, sunny window. After the seeds have sprouted, remove several from the gloves. Display the diagram of the inside of a seed. Label the parts of the diagram and discuss with the children. Divide the children into small groups. Slice the beans in half and allow each group to examine the bean halves using a magnifying glass. As you point to each part of the seed and sprout have the children see if they can locate those parts.
Recording the results
Let the children draw and write about what they observed in their science journals.
Question No. 3 What are those stringy things called roots and why are they important to plants?
Plants are held in place in the ground and receive their water and minerals through their root system. These two actions complement each other in the fact that the roots can only hold the plant in place if they are alive and the only way they continue to live is if they feed the part of the plant that is above the ground. The plant therefore produces leaves that produce food in order to feed the plant. The food produced by the leaves in turn sends nutrients to the cells in the roots. This endless process of interdependence guarantees the life and health of the plant.
As the roots penetrate deeper and deeper into the soil, they become smaller and smaller. This might explain Mr. McGregor’s description of the roots as straggly and unkempt. The roots on an average plant produce many hair-like rootlets. These roots grip the soil therefore keeping the plant in place. The stronger the root system and the more deeply embedded the roots are in the soil, the more secure the plant.
Rooted and Grounded
Objective: This activity will show how roots work for the plant.
What to do...
Cut the ends off two stalks of celery. Place each stalk into a clear plastic glass of water colored with food dye. Place the glasses in a bright, sunny spot or under a plant light overnight.
The next days have the children cut across the celery to see how far up the colored water has moved. Explain to the children that the plant is made of many tiny tubes that bring water to the plant through its roots system.
Recording the results
Have the children draw and write what they observed in their science journal.
Social Development: Family Roots
Objective: To understand that the root system of a tree supports and sustains the life
of the tree just as family unit supports and sustains the family members.
What to do...
Provide the children with a copy of the family tree. Tell them that just like plants have roots that accomplish important functions for the plant, so people have family roots or ancestors who are important to the well being of the family. Ask the children to take home a copy of the family tree and to have their parents help them fill it out.
Recording the Results
Have the children draw and write about their families.
Question No. 3: Do garden plants grow best in rocks, sand, or this so called “composted” soil that Mrs. McGregor loves? What is “organic” anyway?
Most of the foods we purchase in grocery stores have been grown using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Some farmers, however, grow their crops without the use of these synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. This method of growing food is called “organic farming.”
Organic farmers, to condition the soil and nourish the crops, use composted materials. They rely on worms, fungi, bacteria, and other organisms to help decompose these organic materials and to turn this mixture into a rich fertilizer. Organic farmers may also use other natural forms of chemicals to fertilize the crops. Nitrogen, which is produced in a compost, limestone powder, bone meal, seaweed meal, and fish emulsion are some of the natural fertilizers used by organic farmers. Insects, such as ladybugs and praying mantis, are used as deterrents for bugs along with certain types of plants such as marigolds and chrysanthemums.
There are several different ways of gardening. The typical way used by most people is that of planting seeds or seedlings in the soil. Another way of gardening is the hydroponics or tank garden. The plant beds in this garden are filled with pebbles, sand, or some other inorganic materials. These beds are repeatedly flooded with a recyclable water/nutrient solution. The roots hang in this solution and receive their oxygen between the flooding. They receive their energy from artificial lighting that is necessary in the process of photosynthesis. These plants grow faster and appear to be healthier.
Since Mr. McGregor has chosen the typical home garden, the experiment will be geared to that type garden.
Lesson No. 6
Objective: To show if plants grow best in rocks, composted soil, or sand.
What to do...
Place composted soil in one cup. Put the sand in another cup and rocks in the third.
Place a sprouted seed in each cup or a bean seedling. Plant them at the same depth and in the same spot in the cups. Place the cups in a sunny window. Water them the same amount each day. Record what happens to each.
Recording the results.
Have the children observe daily what happens to the plants. Allow them to draw and write about what they observe.
Question No. 4: What would make Mrs. McGregor think that garden plants need light from the sun in order to grow?
Plants make food through a process called photosynthesis. By taking light energy from the sun, plants are able to convert this energy into chemical energy. Growth and reproduction are some of the life processes which living things use this chemical energy for.
Plants absorb air through tiny openings in their leaves. The roots of the plant draw water from the soil. Chlorophyll, which is the green substance in plants, absorbs the light from the sun. The light from the sun divides the water in the leaf into hydrogen and oxygen. The plant releases the oxygen into the air while the hydrogen is combined with carbon dioxide, which the plant takes from the air. The hydrogen and carbon dioxide combine to make sugar and starch. The plant uses this food for growth.
It is the energy from the sun that makes it possible for plants to produce food out of substances that are not food. The plant makes strawberries, corn, blueberries, and all the other good foods which we enjoy by using the light, air, water, and the minerals taken out of the soil.
The sun is the most important source of light. The light we get from the sun is natural light. We get natural light from the stars too. Stars are very far away from the earth but some of their light still reaches the earth.
The light energy of the sun is changed to heat or chemical energy when it reaches the earth. Not only does this light help plants to grow but also scientists use this light for many other purposes. Electricity is generated by solar energy.
Question No. 5: Why is Peter Rabbit always invading the garden and why is that bird interested in that mouse? Whose cat is that anyway and why is he always staring at the goldfish?
Lesson No. 7
Objectives: To examine how most forms of life are dependent upon plants.
Most of the foods we eat come from flowering plants. All forms of life depend in some degree or another on plant life. Whether they consume plant materials as their primary source of food (herbivores) or consume it in its secondary form by eating those animals that do depend upon plants (carnivores), plants play an essential part in the lives of all living things. It is amazing that in the planning of this world, all elements necessary to support life were in place at the very beginning. The manner in which these elements interact with each other to continually support an atmosphere conducive to life is truly of remarkable design. The ecosystems are a fascinating way to engage the active minds of the young child in the learning process. By studying how we affect our environment and how our environment supports us, the child can learn the role of the many systems in place to support and sustain life.
Many animals, as their primary source of food, use plants. The sun is the ultimate source of all energy. Green plants are able to produce their own food by the energy derived from the sun. They are called producers. Consumers are those living things that depend on plants or other animals for their food. As energy is passed from one source to another, the food chain is created. There are many different food chains, including the one in which human beings are a part.
Peter Rabbit had been warned by his mother not to go into Mr. McGregor’s garden. It seems Peter’s father had wandered into the forbidden zone and had ended up in a pie. What do Peter Rabbit, Mr. McGregor’s garden, and the plant-tastic world of photosynthesis have in common?
Read the title of the book and allow the children more time to consider the content of the book.
Ask the children to consider how this story will help them to answer the focus question: What to things in the story go together and why?
Tell the children that this book will describe the various types of animals who live in the water and how they interact or live with each other in their environment.
Display the book, The Magic School Bus Gets Eaten: A Book about Food Chains. Allow the children to discuss what they see on the cover of the book and to predict what they think the story might be about.
What two things in the picture go together and why?
Discuss the kinds of food you eat with the children. Ask the children where they think their food comes from. Give specific food groups and discuss where the children think the food in the group comes from. List some of the foods shown in the protein group: chicken, fish, hamburgers, etc. Ask what animals these foods come from. List foods from the fruits/vegetable groups: squash, peaches, tomatoes, etc. From grains, and dairy, etc.
Display the book, The Magic School Bus Gets Eaten: A Book about Food Chains. Allow the children to discuss the picture on the front cover and predict what the book might be about.
Read the story to the children, reminding them to keep the focus question in mind.
Allow the children to look carefully at the pictures as you read the story. Help the children to determine if this book is fiction or non-fiction. List the children’s response.
Upon completion of the book, discuss with the children the food chain that exists in the ocean. Divide the children into small groups and give each group a portion of the story to illustrate. One group will illustrate the plant life (plankton), another will illustrate the zooplankton (corals, urchins), the next group may draw small fish (anchovies that eat the zooplankton), etc. Continue until each group has contributed a drawing to the ocean food chain. Display the children’s work on a bulletin board. Let the children think up a caption for the board.
Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor’s Garden
Ask the children why they think Peter Rabbit spent much of his time in Mr. McGregor’s garden. Make a copy of the following graph and record the children’s answers in the grid boxes provided. Ask the children what Mr. McGregor might grow in his garden. Record their answers in the grid boxes under that title. Next ask the children what foods Peter Rabbit, the mouse, etc. might eat that grew in Mr. McGregor’s garden. Record those answers in the appropriate boxes.
(figure available in print version)
Repeat this kind of grid or questioning with the children until the children can answer the question: What food chains existed in Mr. McGregor’s garden?
What Did You Eat?
Label graph paper with the food group headings. Allow the children to share what they ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Record the children’s responses under the correct food heading.