A Planting We Will Go

By Emmett Burt, February 27, 2017

Grade Level

  • PreK-1


  • Smithsonian Design Institute

Subject Area

  • Science

Lesson Time

5-8 weeks


Detailed Lesson Plan Overview Sample Letter To Students Explaining the PerformanceTaskThis lesson is geared around patterns in plants, animals and the moon.  How do natural patterns affect living things? How do plants and animals change over the course of their lives?


National Standards

1-ESS1-1: Use observations of the sun, moon, and stars to describe patterns that can be predicted.


1-ESS1-2: Make observations at different times of the year to relate the amount of daylight to the time of the year.


1-LS3-1: Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents.


1-LS1-2: Read texts and use media to determine patterns in behavior of parents and offspring that help offspring survive.


1-LS1-1: Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.


K-2 ETS1-1: Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.


Planning and Carrying Out Observations

  • Students will make observations (firsthand or from media) to collect data that can be used to make comparisons.
  • Students will use materials to design a device that solves a specific problem or a solution to a specific problem.

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

  • Read grade-appropriate texts and use media to obtain scientific information to determine patters in the natural world.

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

  • Students will share observations and analyze data they collected and recorded.
  • Students will use observations to describe patterns in the natural world in order to answer scientific questions.

Connections to Nature and Science

  • Scientists look for patterns and order when making observations about the world.

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

  • Make observations (firsthand or from media) to construct an evidence-based account for natural phenomena.
  • Use materials to design a device that solves a specific problem or a solution to a specific problem.


  • Smart board
  • Computers
  • The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
  • Sid the Seed by Kagan
  • pppbst.com (patterns, plants, animals)


  • Journals
  • Pencils
  • Teacher made handouts
  • Crayons
  • Scissors


  • Patterns
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Repeat
  • Cycle
  • Seed


Students will use observations and data collected throughout the year to create a "What to Expect" welcome video or play to a botanical garden or zoo. Each group will pick one plant or animal to showcase and include information about its survival behaviors, external features, and characteristic of young and adult versions. The video/play will also include information showing knowledge about the patterns of the movement of sun and moon or of the seasons.

While this is written with specific reference to The National Zoo or The Botanical Gardens, this could be applied to any other field trip, or to a fictional place.

Students will work in teams and use observations and data collected throughout the year to create a "What to Expect" welcome video for visitors to a botanical garden or zoo specific to a single plant or animal.

Students are "hired" to create a welcome video or play for a local destination (the National Zoo or The Botanical Gardens). They are asked to observe an animal or plant of choice in order to provide zoo or botanical garden visitors with more information about what to expect on their visit. A letter will be used to invite students to this task.

Prior To This Unit, Students Should Be Able To:

  • Use observations to describe patterns
  • Understand basic needs of plants and animals for survival
  • Basic plant/animal life-cycles (not including metamorphosis) Students may not yet know:
    • What plants and animals need to survive
    • Reasons behind why sunlight is different at different points in the day
    • Make connection between patterns (as studied in math class for example) and patterns that exist in the natural world. This may have to be explicitly noted.
Discussion Questions:
  • What is a pattern?
  • How are patterns developed?
  • Can you connect the patterns of the different plants?
  • Why are patterns important?
  • How do we use patterns to understand plants and animals?
  • Can you name what type of pattern you see?


DCI Evidence Statements:  that show students understanding of unit

Video or play includes: 

  • Information about  the position of the sun or moon appropriate to the time of day noted ( i.e.: if it is night, the moon is             present, if observations happen all day and show animal/plant at different times of day, the sun is in different parts of the     sky)
  • The time of year and discusses the amount of daylight in some way related to the visit ( i.e.: we could be out from the morning because it was light out… or we could be out later in the evening because it was still light out)
  • Student drawn diagrams that show at least 3 external features of the chosen plant/animal that it needs for survival.
  • Reference to at least one behavior that helps it survive ( flowers open for sun, animal may hibernate)
  • A diagram or verbal information comparing the young plant or animal to the adult parent
  • Information about the plant or animal that discusses what may be seen in different seasons
    CCC Evidence Statements:

  Video or play includes:

  • Information on how the sun or moon moves in a predictable pattern across the sky during a full day or night
  • Information and/or diagram to show during video/play of young plant or animal showing life cycle pattern ( small to large etc.)

  Practice Evidence Statements:

  Students will:

  • Apply knowledge gained through their year-long data collection and observations to this video
  • Use their data about sun movement and relative time of day in their presentation (i.e.. if it is winter, the booklet would recommend   not coming after 5pm as it would be darker etc...)

Enrichment Extension Activities

  • Field Experience at  Botanical Gardens including partnership with their education department
  • Field experience at the zoo to compare young and older animals
  • Field Experience at Air and Space Museum including planetarium and/or observatory to support observations of natural patterns
  • Astrobiologist classroom visit?

Teacher Reflection

Overall the unit lesson was a little detailed. I cut back from the initial unit plan to make it more teacher friendly. It was quite lengthy and might overwhelm teachers when they first look at it.

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