Plant Life Cycle Activities: An Engaging 1st Grade Unit

If you are like most 1st grade teachers out there, your curriculum calls for a plant study. But where do you start? There is so much you could cover and so many ways you could do it! Sometimes all of that choice can be overwhelming. Don’t waste time stressing about your plant life cycle activities! After many years of use, I’ve put together an engaging, fun, and informative 1st grade plant unit that will have all of your bases covered!

From life cycle to parts of a plant, to needs, you’ve got your plate full when it comes to tackling a plant unit in the first grade! I know when I began teaching this science unit it felt like too much. So over the years, I created, revised, created, and revised some more to find the perfect balance that would create a comprehensive yet fun plant unit for my students. Now, I’m bringing all of the ideas to you so that you won’t have to spend years upon years getting it just right!

Plant Life Cycle Unit Scope and Sequence

So, finally an answer to your question: Where do I start?

Here is the scope and sequence I found to be most successful during my days of teaching 1st grade. Each topic, I covered with a 35-45 minute lesson that included a hook, hands on activity, technology, and a formative assessment.

You can get the details of each lesson in my Plant Unit resource so that you can use the exact sequence in your classroom! The best part is this activity can be printable or digital depending on what best suits your students.

Scope and Sequence

  • Introduction to Plants & Pre-assessment
  • Plant Needs
  • Planting Seeds & Individual Writing Activity
  • Whole Group Planting Activity
  • Parts of a Plant
  • Roots
  • Stem
  • Stem Experiment
  • Leaves
  • Flowers
  • Summative Assessment

All About Plants Mini Books

When it comes to introducing new content, I always loved my students to have an easy-to-access resource that we could go back to throughout our study. Mini books are perfect for this, so I always made sure to have my students put together one for our plant unit.

We would read all of the information together and students would get to color the images. Then as we moved through different lessons, I would have students pull out their mini-books so that we could review the page or pages with relevant information for that day’s lesson.

Plus, it was a great way to teach students how to use a resource. I always modeled how to navigate the information in the mini-book. This way students could easily find the information they needed to complete different activities.

Being able to teach about the content and reading skills is always a win-win in my book!

Hands On Plant Life Cycle Activities

The good thing about a plant study is that it lends itself easily to many hands on activities.

Plant Journals

Of course, the most obvious hands on activity for a Plant Unit is having students grow their own plants, but I liked to take this activity to the next level by having students complete plant journals.

Immediately after we finished planting, I would have students start a Plant Journal. In this journal, they would record the day, date, and observations of their plant. They would also draw a picture.

These plant journals were a great way to work on their observation skills and writing skills and gave students a real-world task that helped to build their vocabulary. They were able to flip through their journals and see the plant life cycle unfold!

And if you, like me, love dual-purpose activities, then consider a flowering plant that you can start in time to be gifted for Mother’s Day. With a little research on the germination period and length of time til blooming, you can usually find an option that works well. And . . the kids just love giving their mom a plant that they grew all on their own!

What Do Plants Need? matching Activity

I always loved reinforcing concepts with hands on activities. That is why I always made sure to complete a Needs of a Plant matching activity with my students!

Students would cut out the vocabulary words and match them to the pictures of what plants need to grow and survive. This was another great way to help them build their vocabulary. Plus, using manipulatives, engaged students more than a simple fill-in-the-blank worksheet.

As the years went on, I even adapted this activity by creating a digital version. Students were still able to manipulate the terms, but now they could do it on their devices.

Plant Life Cycle Extension Activities

There is nothing like being able to address a concept, like a plant life cycle, across your whole curriculum. That is why I always included extension activities that went beyond the science curriculum.

Plant’s Basic Needs Spin & Tally

During my Plant Unit, you could always find a copy of a plant-themed Spin & Tally game in our math center. Spin & Tally games allow students to practice a variety of math concepts such as counting, graphing, and interpreting data, so it just made sense to have a plant-themed version for my classroom!

Students would use a pencil and paperclip for the spinner. Printed on the board were pictures of plants’ basic needs: sun, water, air, soil. Students would spin, find the matching word for the picture at the bottom of the page and put a tally.

After a set number of spins, students would graph the data and then answer some simple questions about their results. Using plant basic needs helped them to continue to build their vocabulary and remember the concepts from our science lessons, while also getting to practice valuable math concepts!

Plant Life Word Search

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a believer in lots and lots of repetition to foster vocabulary acquisition. That’s why my Plant Unit was never completed without students trying some Plant Life word searches.

The word searches made a great addition to our literacy center and for my early finishers. Students would be given a set of words related to the plant life cycle that they needed to find. I would differentiate as needed, so some students would get a longer list than others or might have specific words on their list that I wanted to give them more exposure to.

We all know differentiation is important, but it can take so much time! That is why I made sure to include several differentiated activities in my Plant Unit resource!

No need to create your own Plant Life Cycle Activities!

From my years of experience as a first grade teacher, I have put together a comprehensive Plant Unit with 11 lessons, engaging hands on activities, and even extension activities that will make teaching the plant life cycle a piece of cake! You will get all of the information and plant life cycle activities discussed in this post and more! With print and digital options, you can’t go wrong.

Save These Plant Cycle Activities For Later

Be sure to save this pin to your favorite classroom Pinterest board, so you can teach plants without having to recreate the wheel!

This plant life cycle unit has everything you need to kickstart, dive deep, and assess your students on their knowledge of plants, their life cycle, and what they need to survive. With digital and printable options, you will have everything you need for a complete 1st grade plant unit.


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