Activities about plants
Everything we need to live is in sunlight, air, water and the soil, and plants are our link to these. They give us, and all other animals, the foundation for life through food and oxygen. Life ultimately depends on plants.
Activity: Plants for life
What things can the children see around them which ‘munch’ sunlight? See how many different shapes of leaf they can find. Try and count the number of individual ‘sun munchers’ they can see around them. Are there more of these than ‘plant munchers’, the animals which feed on plants? This can be the basis of the concept of energy flows and food pyramids.
Go and touch…
Each plant has a different structure of roots, stem, leaves and flowers. However, the basic components are the same for oak trees, daisies and wheat. This activity helps children learn more about the different parts of a plant. Two teams are formed and the group leader will call out a part of a plant (for example “stem”). The first member of each team will then run off to touch that area on the nearest tree, flower or crop. The first to touch the correct part gets a point. The activity can be made more difficult by asking children to touch different plant groups or identify different species.
Fruit or root?
We obtain food from many different parts of plants. We can eat the fruit of plants such as apples and wheat, the roots of parsnip and beetroot, the swollen stem of the potato, the leaves of lettuce and cabbage. Ask the group who has eaten roots and then ask them to name the plant whose root was eaten. Similarly, ask about other parts of the plant like the stem, bark, leaves, flowers, fruit and seeds.
Look at the diversity of plants in a meadow, field edge or hedgerow. Mark a small area with a hoop or pegs and string. Look at the number of colours in the area and count the different species of wildflower and grasses. Can you identify any of them?
Meet a tree
Find an area containing a number of trees and split up into pairs. One of the pair needs to either shut their eyes or wear a blindfold. The other has to lead the blindfolded one to a tree and ask them to get to know it through touch and smell (feeling the texture of it’s bark, the size of it’s trunk and the smell of the wood). Then they are led away, the blindfold is taken off and they have to find it again. This is a good way for children to develop their other senses and it can lead on to tree identification activities.
A large open area is needed for this activity. The majority of the children pretend to be trees and stand about 20 metres distance apart. The remaining children have to walk between the trees holding their breath, only being allowed to breathe when they reach the tree. The game leader then starts to ‘cut down’ and remove the ‘trees’ one by one and obviously the children start to find it a bit more difficult to make the distance without breathing. At the end of the game you ask why are trees important? They answer “to breathe”!
Did you know?
Many once common flowering plants are vanishing from the countryside, victims of chemicals, habitat destruction and over-cropping. As the food for birds and invertebrates, their loss affects the whole food chain. A study comparing organic and non-organic farms found five times more wild plants and 1.5 times as many species on organic farms.
Did you know?
Organic farms have 1.6 times as many invertebrates as non-organic farms and twice as many spiders. Organic farmers encourage a balanced food web by creating habitats for predatory creatures such as ladybirds.
This then helps to provide natural pest control rather than using harmful pesticides. This in turn helps to provide more food for skylarks and so on down the line. Research shows that organic farms are much richer in wildlife because of these and other practices.
- Pupils are encouraged to use different senses to make observations, to recognise individual parts of plants, identify plant groups or species, to find out about a variety of plants and habitats and how they contribute to the environment.
- Pupils can use responses to produce creative written work or produce reports on investigations.
- Pupils are able to collect, observe and record findings. Create artwork using a variety of different materials. Consider colour, texture and shape of plants.