ALEX Lesson Plan


How Does your Garden Grow?

You may save this lesson plan to your hard drive as an html file by selecting "File", then "Save As" from your browser's pull down menu. The file name extension must be .html.

  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Marcus Jackson
System: Chickasaw City
School: Chickasaw City Elementary School
The event this resource created for:ASTA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34622


How Does your Garden Grow?


In this lesson, the students will learn that plants need water, air, nutrients, and sunlight to grow.

This lesson results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA.

**This lesson can be taught over a three to five day period. Simply repeat the steps as the students will become more knowledgeable of the target.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 5
8 ) Defend the position that plants obtain materials needed for growth primarily from air and water.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Engaging in Argument from Evidence
Crosscutting Concepts: Energy and Matter
Disciplinary Core Idea: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • claim
  • evidence
  • hydroponic
Students know:
  • How plants obtain nutrients.
  • How to measure growth of a plant.
Students are able to:
  • Collect and analyze evidence about plant growth.
  • Determine whether evidence supports the claim that plants do not acquire most of the material for growth from soil.
  • Use reasoning to connect the evidence to support the claim. A chain of reasoning should include the following:
    • During plant growth in soil, the weight of the soil changes very little over time, but the weight of the plant changes a lot. Additionally, some plants grow without soil at all.
    • Because some plants don't need soil to grow, and others show increases in plant matter but not accompanying decreases in soil matter, the material from the soil must not enter the plant in sufficient quantities to be the chief contributor to plant growth.
    • Therefore, plants do not acquire most of the material fro growth from soil.
    • A plant cannot grow without water or air. Because both air and water are matter and are transported into the plant system, they can provide the materials plants need for growth.
    • Since soil cannot account for the change in weight as a plant grows and since plants take in water and air, both of which could contribute to the increase in weight during plant growth, plant growth must come chiefly from water and air.
Students understand that:
  • Matter, including air and water, is transported into, out of, and within plant systems.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Dynamics of Ecosystems

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.5.8- Recognize that plants obtain materials needed for growth primarily from air and water.

Local/National Standards:

RI 5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text

RI 5.9 Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably

W 5.1 Write an opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view reasons and explanations

5 MDA A.1. Convert among different standard measurements units within a given measurement system and use these conversions in solving multi-step real-world problems

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Learning Targets:

I can support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

SC2015(5) 8/ ACOS: 8: Defend the position that plants obtain materials needed for growth primarily from air and water.

  • Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.

    • Emphasis is on the idea that plant matter comes mostly from air and water and not from  soil

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

You will need one gardening kit for each student group: (Gardening Kit): soil, water, seeds (radish seeds will work great for this activity), 2- planters or plant box (flat), plastic gloves (optional), straw or popsicle stick, goggles, two zip bags, a napkin, various seeds

Investigation Resources: science notebooks (journals), chart paper, ruler, crayons, pencils, articles, trade books, websites, nonfiction text on plants (teacher provided)


Technology Resources Needed:

Interactive whiteboard

Document Camera (optional) You may need to use the document camera if you are interested in guiding the students through the (research) to explain the process.

I have included some links and resources for use, such as: -Scholastic (photosynthesis)

This science activities help students understand photosynthesis reader/plants and producers

This worksheet will need to be printed and use as a student's handout. (Optional) The teacher can use the questions as to aid the students research.

The students can access this information to assist with classroom research. Storyjumper

This link can be used as an extension activity to the lesson.


In this lesson, the students will learn that plants need water, air, nutrients, and sunlight to grow.  Water is also essential for a healthy plant cell to function. 


Photosynthesis-The energy from sunlight is used to chemically change water and carbon dioxide (air) into sugar.

Carbon Dioxidea gas that is produced when people and animals breathe out or when certain fuels are burned and that is used by plants for energy

Oxygen: A waste product of photosynthesis


EngageThe teacher will begin the lesson by asking the students the following questions. (The teacher can create flash cards if desired.) 

  • What do you know about plants?  
  • What do plants need to grow?  
  • Have you ever planted a garden? If so, what kind?
  • Have you ever heard of a green thumb or know someone who has a green thumb?
  • The teacher should have the students turn and talk in small groups or in pairs as they answer the questions.
  • The teacher should walk around the classroom listening intently as the students discuss the questions. During this time, the teacher should assure the students there are no right or wrong answers, however, the class is simply discussing.
  • After about 5-7 minutes  the teacher should divide the students into groups of four. Tell the students they are going to become gardeners for the next two weeks.



  • Provide each group of students with a gardening kit (soil, seeds, water, 2-planters (flat) popsicle sticks, rulers, gloves, goggles).
  • Allow the students to plant their seeds into the soil inside of both planters.
  • Have the students space out the seeds by having Popsicle sticks, or something to mark where  the last seed was placed, and a ruler to measure where the next seed will go.
  • Have the students to water both planters, and to label each planter with their names.  
  • Place one planter in a sunny place. Place the other in a dark closet, drawer, or dark place.
  • Water each planter daily with small amounts of water. After the students water their planters, make sure they return them to their proper places.
  • As a class create a large t-chart comparing the seeds in each planter for each group.
  • Allow the students to use different measurements such as inches, centimeters, and feet to measure the daily growth of their plants.
  • Have the students watch each planter’s growth and compare over a five to ten day period.

Ask the students questions such as:

  • Why is the plant growing?  
  • Why aren't the plants growing?
  • How are they plants able to grow in the dark?
  • Allow the students to write their answers in their science journals.


  • The students will continue to work in groups as they are provided reading materials on plants.
  • The teacher will need to provide the students with articles, trade books, internet sources, and resources on plants. (see technology resource section)
  • The students should begin researching information on plants and gathering the information to create a group book on plants and photosynthesis.
  • The teacher will provide the students with a research sheet- to guide the students learning as they research information on plants in their small groups. (The research sheet is optional, as teacher may choose to use the research sheet as a guide)
  • After the students have completed their research the teacher will bring the students together to discuss the information they have learned. The teacher will reinforce the vocabulary terms: photosynthesis, carbon dioxide, and oxygen with the students. 



  • Provide each group with the following items: water, two zip bags, a napkin, various seeds, and no soil.
  • Label each bag.  Bag A - water; Bag B - no water. Place both zip bags  in the sun with a napkin and seeds inside of the zip bag, but only water one of the napkins inside of the zip bag.
  • Over a period of time have the students observe what will happen (or what won’t happen!) to the seeds inside of the zip bags. 
  • Have students predict what they think will happen to the different groups of plants inside of the zip bags daily.
  • Turn the zip bags from the front to the back to notice if there are any variations.
  • Allow the students to create a two-fold t-chart as a graphic organizer to document the information observed over the period of time.
  • The students should label one side of the organizer bag "A-water" and the other side of the organizer bag "B-no water."




Assessment Strategies

  1. Ask students to journal in their science notebooks, in their own words, what the big idea of this whole lesson is.
    1. You can prompt by asking, “What are some key science ideas you discussed and learned about while researching information on plants?
    2.  Ask the students to write a short paragraph supporting the argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water, based on the experiments and research they conducted.




(I used this activity as a project with my class.)

  1. The students will use the information from the research guide sheet to help create the contents for their plant book.
  2. The teacher may use his or her own discretion in regards to creating ideas, instructions, and rubrics for the students to create the plant book.
  3. The directions are easy to follow from the website and the students will enjoy the creativity.
  4. This step can be extended over a three to five day period. After the students have completed their plant books allow them to share the information with the class.




The teacher will work with individual students on a daily basis to assist them in defending their argument by using cause and effect relationship to explain photosynthesis.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.