Lesson Four: What Plants Need to Grow

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Grade Level:

2nd Grade


Students will identify that plants require sunlight and water to grow successfully.


Over a 1-week period, students will be asked to manipulate their experiment daily.


  • Class garden (refer to the cover document at the start of this unit for directions to set up class garden)
  • Plant Observation handout (a copy per student)
  • Exit ticket (a copy per student)
  • Possible reference: From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons

Suggested Teacher Preparation:

  • Have class garden available
  • Have an area prepared for plants to experience no sunlight, too much water, too little water, and poor soil

Activity Type:

Students hypothesize and test the effects of soil, water, and light on plant life.

Explanation of how the activity enables students to answer the overarching question:

Students will understand the effects that poor soil, excess/insufficient water, and insufficient light have on a plant’s ability to survive. Students will make the connection between caring for crops, successful production, and the role of stewardship in Wyoming’s agriculture.

Supporting Questions:

How is agriculture unique in Wyoming? How is agriculture cared for? Who is involved in agriculture production?


Science: 2-LS2-1 (explicitly taught)
ELA: L.2.6, W.2.7 (both practiced/encountered)
Math: 2.MD.1 (practiced/encountered)
CVE: CV5.3.3 (practiced/encountered)


(use a reference as needed)

  • Seed – small object produced by a plant from which a new plant can grow
    This is the first stage of the plant life cycle.
  • Seedling – a young plant grown from a seed that has sprouted above the soil
    This is the first stage of the plant life cycle.
  • Mature Plant – the plant with leaves, roots, and stems
    This is the third stage of the plant life cycle.
  • Flower – the part of a plant that is sometimes brightly colored, that usually lasts a short time, and from which the seed or fruit develops after pollination
    This is the fourth stage of the plant life cycle.
  • Fruit – the part of a flowering plant that contains seeds
    This is the fifth stage of the plant life cycle.
  • Harvested Crop – the final stage of the plant life cycle in which the plant is taken and processed for use by people or animals
  • Sustainable – able to be maintained, able to last or continue for a long time

Instructional Procedure/Steps:

  1. Plants used in this lesson will come from the class garden.
  2. Discuss with students learning from the previous lesson. Talk about the trends they noticed about crop growth and where specific crops are grown in Wyoming. Remind students of the specific crops grown in Wyoming.
  3. Tell students that they will be conducting an investigation to determine the effects of soil quality, water availability, and the amount of light on the growth and health of a plant. (suggestion: mark each cup with the variable they are testing for the experiment)

    TEACHER NOTE: Grouping students or having students work individually is per teacher discretion. The following is just a suggestion of how these observations could be done in the classroom. However, students should be expected to make individual observations on the last day of all 4 plant experiments.

  4. Divide students into 4 small groups. Each group will be responsible for maintaining 1 variable for the experiment. However, each student in the group will be asked to document their daily observations in some way (notebook, discussion etc.). Over the next several days, students will continue maintaining the experiment by eliminating sun, adding too much water, changing the soil quality (adding a chemical, litter, etc.,) and withholding water and documenting the effects.

    TEACHER NOTE: Observing the effects of changing the soil quality could be difficult, especially in a short duration experiment. Plants can withstand quite a bit of stress for a while.

  5. On the final day of observations, students will share out the results of their experiment by documenting the changes that were noticed on the Plant Observation page (included). Students should share out their results to move them toward answering the essential question of how stewardship impacts agriculture in Wyoming and the soil quality needed for crop growth.
    • Ask students: “How are farmers good stewards?”
  6. Conclude with discussion of the components necessary for plant growth and development. Students should be able to answer the following questions:
    • Using what you noticed through these experiments, what do plants need to survive?
    • What connection can we make between successful growing of crops and being good stewards?
  7. Have students use the Think-Pair-Share strategy to discuss the importance of being good stewards of Wyoming in order to ensure agriculture in Wyoming is sustainable.
  8. Pass out exit ticket for students to respond to the following question as an exit ticket: What is one way being a good steward can help crops grow?

Possible extension activities:

Have students try to REVERSE the effects of these variables. What happens if the plant with no sunlight is now put in the sun, plant with no water is watered, etc? Can these effects be reversed?


Plant experiment observation handout


From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons