Jack and the Beanstalk: Plants 5-7

The story of Jack and the Beanstalk  makes a great starting point for teaching the topic of plants to younger primary aged children. In particular it would help children to notice and  describe how seeds and bulbs grow into mature plants.  It would also help them to explore  what plants need to grow and stay healthy.  This would give a great context for working scientifically by observing over time and by trying out different growing conditions for growing your plants.

 

 

Links and Resources

Grow Sunflowers, Make Plant Pots

Sunflowers are another crop which grows quickly and soon reaches a dramatic height.  

If you are growing runner beans in the school grounds you might choose to send the young sunflower plants home.  However, it is not uncommon for the plants to become neglected or forgotten about once they are at home.  

One way to maintain interest and to ensure that the plants continue to be looked after is to let families know that this is to be their 'homework' for the rest of the term and expect them to regularly report back with information about the height of their plant and maybe with photographs.  This information could be recorded in a graph where everyone can see it and make comparisons between the relative heights of the plants.  If there is space, a life size graph is particularly dramatic as the children have to stand on tip toes and, eventually, on a chair to keep it up to date.  The value of this is that it helps young children begin to realise how the information on  a graph represents real life.

This resource will also support children to understand that crops are not only grown for food.

publication year
2010 to date

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Discoverers Activity 3: Sorting and Sprouting

This pack of activities comes from the 'Darwin Box' which was sent to all primary schools in the UK in 2010 150 years after the publication of the Origin of Species in 1860. Fortunately the activities may be carried out with or without the original box.

This will alert adults and children to the wide range of seeds that can be found in the kitchen or in the garden.  It could be used to inspire children to 'work scientifically' by identifying and sorting a wide range of seeds.  It could also be used to support children's work in maths.  For example children could be shown how to make Venn diagrams based upon the different characteristics of the seeds.

Children could be challenged to see how many different seeds they could germinate.  Some that are found in the kitchen, for example avocado stones and aduki beans, will grow into attractive house plants.  Comparing how different seeds develop over time is an opportunity for children to work scientifically by observing over time.

publication year
2010 to date

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Do plants need soil to grow?

Would Jack's beanstalk have grown if it had not been thrown out of the window and landed in garden soil?  It would be interesting to ask your children this question.

This set of short video clips show that in fact plants can be grown without soil.  You might like to try this with your class.  However, even if the beans germinate I wonder if they could grow into strong health plants without soil?  Your children may enjoy comparing seeds grown in soil or compost with seeds grown without soil or compost.

publication year
2010 to date

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Year 1 - Plants - Identifying bulbs and seeds

This resource has photographs of mature plants, and their seeds, or bulbs for children to match. Although this is presented as a cut and stick activity it would be much more valuable as an activity with real seeds and plants.  However, sourcing and providing a selection of plants and seeds for children to explore and match may be too much for a teacher on top of an already busy work load.

How about letting children take the sheet home as inspiration, and challenging them to bring in some examples of seeds and corresponding mature plants!  Perhaps they could bring an acorn and a photograph of an oak tree or a conker and a photograph of a horse chestnut tree.  Maybe they could bring in a dandelion plant and a seed from a dandelion clock or a cauliflower and a cauliflower seed.  (Other vegetables which are almost the whole plant are leeks, carrots with their leaves on, cabbages and lettuces).   

Although not all children are likely to participate in this activity,  you may well be surprised with the enthusiasm of other families to take part and surprise you with some imaginative seeds and mature plants.  

This activity could also spark a discussion  about why different seeds are available at different times of year.

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Having Fun Growing Plants

This resource has more ideas to support children to explore the topic of plants.  It gives detailed instructions about how to grow a pelargonium plant (often known as a geranium) from a cutting which is an exciting process for children to become involved in and observe.  Again, this contrasts nicely with the experiences of growing a beanstalk from a bean or a flower from a bulb.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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Snap science: teaching framework - year 1

This resource gives children opportunites to observe changes over time, to identify different plants and to classify leaves based upon their observable characteristics.

Children observe differences in the leaves of a plant  as the seasons change.  It encourages them to notice similarities and differences in leaves that they have collected and to use this information to sort them into groups.  Children also investigate if all trees lose their leaves in the autumn.  

publication year
2010 to date

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Snap science: teaching framework - year 2

The introduction to this resource gives ideas for growing crops in a primary school by planting a 'square foot garden'.  This is a very manageable way to give individual, or pairs of, primary school children the experience of growing and eating food.

publication year
2010 to date

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The Great Plant Hunt

These resources are linked to a box of materials that was sent into all UK state funded primary schools in 2010 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.  Even if you do not think your school has this box do search at the back of your science cupboard; you may well find it lurking there!  However, even if you do not have access to the box you can still carry out these activities.

They are organised by Year group and provide lots of ideas for exploring the topic of plants with primary school children.  Children will be helped to understand how Charles Darwin worked and be able to emulate some of his practices as they explore the world of plants.  Children will be able to work scientifically by identifying, classifying and sorting.  They will also observe plants over time and use secondary research to find out more about the life of Charles Darwin.

publication year
2010 to date

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