New Plants: Adopt a Plant

Published September 1, 2015 | Updated January 24, 2016
Subject: Science
Place of Learning: Garden, Academic Classroom
Resource Type: Lessons
Grade Level: Grade 1, Grade 2
Uploaded by:
Phoebe Beierle

In this lesson, students will observe plant growth, development, and change over time in new and mature plants found in the schoolyard. 

This lesson is from Boston Schoolyard Initiative's curriculum guide for their Science in the Schoolyard™ program. While they were developed to integrate the FOSS science curriculum, they are easily adptable. You can learn more about Science in the Schoolyard™ here



For each student:

  • Science notebook
  • 1 Clipboard
  • 1 Pencil
  • 1 Craft stick with name written in permanent marker

For the teacher:

  • Digital camera (optional)

Time: 10–25 min.

Site: Weeds make wonderful plants for observation in addition to other plants (flowers, shrubs, trees) in the schoolyard. Alert the custodian and others of your plan so the plants are not cut down mid-observation.

Seasonal Tips: In the fall, students will see plants dying, and changes in color, buds, cones, and fruit. In the winter, students can observe plants that have died, gone into dormancy, or are evergreen. Try digging under the snow for berries, buds, cones, or fruit. In the spring, students can mark off a patch of earth when it is bare and watch as new plants emerge.

Safety Note: Be aware of any harmful plants in your schoolyard, such as poison ivy or stinging nettle. 

  1. Tell students they will be learning about plants, outdoors as well as indoors. Ask, What plants do we have in our schoolyard? How do you think they got there? Have you ever noticed them changing? What kinds of changes have you seen?
  2. Tell students they will each get to select their own plant in the schoolyard to observe over time, and they will report on how it changes. Encourage them to choose a plant that interests them. Have students date their notebook pages and remind them how to label their drawings.
  3. Take students outside and give them three minutes to select a plant within the area you define. After three minutes, students should be seated and drawing in their notebooks. Instruct students to draw a close up of one part of the plant as well as the whole plant.
  4. After students have found their plants, help students gently put their craft sticks into the ground. If you can, take photographs of students with their plants.
  5. Invite students to share their plant observations with the class.
  6. Repeat the outdoor observations as often as you can (2–4 times) during the module. At the end of the module, display students’ drawings and notes on the changes they observed. 


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