Plants are Growing and Changing

K, 1, 2

This lesson is designed to teach children about living things, such as trees and the different types of plants. This will not only help them understand science benchmarks, but will also help them understand more about their service learning project.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods (Plus daily brief observation time for a week)

The learner will:

  • compare different ways of reading fiction and nonfiction text.
  • recall facts from a nonfiction text.
  • participate in a scientific experiment.
  • respond to an investigation through charts and writing.
  • A Tree is a Plant by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • Plastic sandwich bags
  • Small, fresh-cut twigs with leaves attached (one per group)
  • Jars of water
  • Twist ties
  • Copies of Handout One: Change Experiment

Bulla, Clyde Robert. A Tree is a Plant. Harper Trophy, 2001. ISBN 0064451968


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Play a spontaneous game called "Did you know?" Start by stating a tree fact in the form of a question: "Did you know that trees make oxygen that helps us breathe? Did you know that paper is made from trees? Did you know that most trees need time to rest?" Encourage the students to tell what they know about trees in this same format.

  2. Tell the children how impressed you are with how much they already know about trees and ask them what else they would like to know. Write their questions down (in a notebook, on an overhead or on chart paper).

  3. Show the students the cover of the book A Tree Is a Plant. Ask them whether this is a fiction or non-fiction book. Talk about why it helps to know which type before you start reading. (Nonfiction may be read differently—in parts, out of order, skimming.) Skim through the text and point out choices the author made in order to communicate the information in the book.

  4. Tell the students to listen for facts and answers to their questions so they can talk about them after reading. Read the book aloud to the students.

  5. Refer back to their list of questions to see if the book answered any of their questions. Discuss the answers. Talk about other facts learned in the book. Have them name different types of trees and compare what they look like (size and structure) and how they change over time. Compare/contrast trees with other plants. Ask them what time of year they like the apple tree best. Also, discuss the focus questions: What do plants need to grow? Why do we need plants? What can we do for plants?

  6. Have students name the basic needs of plants: sun, water, soil and food. Discuss how they will provide these needs in the community planting project (planned in Lesson One: Garden for Life). Make some specific plans for who will carry out these tasks.

  7. Day Two:

  8. Conduct an experiment to explore the patterns of change in living plants. Some change is predictable, such as the changes to a tree as they grow and throughout the seasons. Set up the experiment and ask the students to predict what changes will occur. Observe the set-up over time, and have students record their observations. See Handout One: Change Experiment for the steps of the experiment. Discuss changes to the leaves. Post experiment questions: Is the twig a living thing? What does the bag do to the leaves? How could you find out if the bag (or something else) caused the change? Is some change predictable? What do you think would happen if you covered the leaves on a potted plant?

  9. Encourage students to ask further questions about change in living things. If they show enthusiasm for trying out one of their ideas, gather the materials, make predictions and try it.


Assess student understanding through participation in discussions. Assess student responses to the experiment by reading their observations. Observations should include predictions and detailed observations of physical changes in the living plant. The observations should reflect an understanding that although the results may vary from specimen to specimen, the changes will be similar and predictable.

Cross Curriculum 

Students continue to plan for their service learning project from Lesson One: Garden for Life. The teacher should make contacts in order to find a place for their garden or tree planting. In this lesson, the students list the basic needs of their planting/gardening project and assign responsibilities for caring for those needs.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify specific learning objectives from the academic core curriculum that are being applied in the service-learning project.