How Does Your Garden Grow?

By Rosalind Allen, August 29, 2009

Grade Level

  • PreK-1


  • Other

Subject Area

  • Science

Lesson Time

300 minutes for classroom activities


In science, first graders are required to learn and understand the needs and characteristics of a variety of plants. Additionally, students need to learn the skills necessary for working successfully in a group. In this lesson, students will use their prior knowledge of the five senses to help them focus more carefully on the characteristics of a variety of plants. Through the design process, students will have the opportunity to think through a problem, learn from each other, and practice working in a group.

National Standards

Working with Others

Standard 1. Level IV. Contributes to the overall effort of the group

1. Knows the behaviors and skills that contribute to team effectiveness

2. Works cooperatively within a group to complete tasks, achieve goals, and solve problems

4. Demonstrates respect for others’ rights, feelings, and points of view in a group 


Standard 6. Level I. Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment

1. Knows that plants and animals need certain resources for energy and growth (e.g. food, water, light, and air)

2. Knows that living things are found almost everywhere in the world and that distinct environments support the life of different types of plants and animals


After this lesson students will be able to:

  • state the needs and characteristics of a variety of plants



  • pictures of plants that grow well in different climates (Note: For instance, cacti in the southwest region, apple trees in the northeast region. At least two of each for fruits, flowering plants, non flowering plants, trees, vegetables, and herbs. Hint: Photos found on seed packages may be used. Backs of seed packages will show region. provides information regarding region and plant needs.)
  • drawing paper
  • crayons
  • markers
  • colored pencils
  • colored paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • timer
  • Five Senses worksheet/guide sheet (attached)


  • climate: weather and temperature that is typical for an environment
  • three dimensional: to have height, width, and depth


Day 1:

1. Review the five senses.

2. Review the needs of plants, e.g. water, soil, light, etc.

3. Explain the meaning of climate and discuss with children how climate is important to plant survival. 4. Discuss the climate of the region where the children live and compare it to a region that is very different. For instance, if students live in the northeast region, discuss the climate and compare it with southwest region and the different types of plants that can grow in each region.

4. Review the types of plants that can grow and survive in the students’ environment, and the ones that most likely will not grow.

5. On the board or on chart paper, allow for two categories: “Plants that will grow well in our area” and “Plants that will not grow well in our area.”

6. During the discussion with the students, place photos of the plants in the appropriate category. While placing the plant photos in the appropriate category elicit comments regarding characteristics of the plants that stimulate the five senses. For instance a rose bush has color, fragrance and thorns, and rose petals and rosehips are edible. Many fruits and vegetables crunch. Leaves rustle in the wind and on the ground.

Day 2:

1. Using the charts, review the lesson from the prior day.

2. On the board or on chart paper, dra w representations of the five senses (as on the guide sheet), and list the six categories of plants already discussed. Include a teacher-drawn picture or a photo of each category next to the name of the plant category. These charts or lists will provide guidance for the students and will serve as reminders of the design requirements as they work on their designs.

3. Ask students to think about plants that they could see, feel, taste, smell, and hear. Let them share their ideas in a class discussion. Remind them that while others are sharing they need to listen carefully. Ask students to explain why they picked a particular plant; how that plant would stimulate one or more of the five senses. Ask them if the plant could survive in the local climate and how they would keep it alive after planting it. Guide the discussion to include different types of plants that need to be included in the design project: fruit, vegetable, herb, flowering plant, non flowering plant, and tree.

4. Explain to students that they will design a garden that needs to use five different types of plants, and that the garden has to include plants that will stimulate the five senses, all plants in the garden have to be able to survive in the climate of the region, and that students need to be able to explain how they would care for the plants and provide for the plants’ needs.

5. Explain that they will work in groups of four and that they will need to make sure they are listening to each other’s ideas. Show them the Five Senses guide sheet and tell them that in their groups they will need to brainstorm or list all the plants they might like to use in each category, and that they will later decide on the final choice. Tell them that for this part of the activity it is important to get their ideas flowing, so they can write or draw as many ideas as they think of during the time allowed.

6. Assign the students into groups of four. Give them time to discuss and share their ideas with each other. During this process, walk around to each group listening to the students as they discuss the plants they might like to use. If necessary, depending on the skill level of the children in the group, write the plant names under their written words or sketches. Make sure that each child has had a chance to contribute something to the discussion.

7. For the last ten to fifteen minutes tell students they must decide on one plant for each of the five senses and remind them the plants have to come from five different categories. Tell the students they will begin working on their projects the next day.

Day 3:

1. Model for students how they might develop their design projects. Show them the materials they can use and explain that they can draw their garden or can use the colored paper to design the garden. Explain that if they use the colored paper they can make the design three dimensional or can tear/cut it and glue it to a larger piece of paper to represent the plants in garden. 2. Explain to students what three dimensional means.

3. Demonstrate for the students what a three dimensional representation looks like of a plant. Explain to them that while it’s important to appropriately represent their plants, that their explanation of the choices they made is really more important. Tell them that this is a science project, not an art project. The art is just to show which plants they chose and where it will be in the garden. Remind them that they must finish their designs in the time allowed.

4. Explain to them that they must decide on one plant from each of the five senses on their guide sheet, and remind them that they have to have one plant from each of the different categories you’ve talked about. Explain to them that they all have to contribute something to the design, and they must decide who will do what part of the design. Explain to them that each one of them will be responsible for sharing with the class the details of the project and why they chose their particular plants. Remind them that the plants must be able to survive in their climate, and must provide a way to stimulate one or more of the five senses.

5. Let them get in their groups to review their plant choices, decide upon the materials they will use to represent the plants and garden design, and what role each will play in the process.

6. Let them begin working on their gardens.

7. Walk around to each group to make sure they are on task, understand the assignment, and are following through with their roles.

Day 4:

1. Let students get into their groups and then they should spend the first half of the class session finishing their projects.

2. Allow the children the remaining half of the class session to practice what they will say when they present their designs to the class. Explain to them they will have approximately five to seven minutes to present their projects. Use a timer if necessary to help them monitor the time.

3. Monitor the students during the design process and during the practice session. Provide guidance when necessary.

Day 5:

1. If necessary, and if time permits, allow students a few minutes to put any finishing touches on their designs and/or to practice what they will say to the class when presenting their designs.

2. Have the children to present their designs. Guide them if necessary making sure they are explaining the reasons for their choices and how they would keep the plants alive.



The teacher will determine if they have learned the objectives by observing and communicating with the students during the process, focusing on the following questions:

  • Did they explain their plant choices based on appropriateness for climate?
  • Did they arrange the plants in a way that they can survive?
  • Did the plants they chose stimulate one or more of the five senses, and were the plants from five different categories?
  • Did they follow guidelines for working in a group?

Enrichment Extension Activities

Have students design a way to keep a plant alive that would not normally survive in the students’ climate.

Have students design a garden for the school community or the neighborhood surrounding the school.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.