Plant Life Cycle Activities and Lesson Plans

Curb spring fever by bringing some of the great outdoors into your classroom with plant life cycle activities.

By Jennifer Sinsel


plant life cycle lesson plans

With the arrival of spring, many of us find our students staring longingly out the window. As teachers, we attempt to continue to teach the required standards, but it's a challenge. Why not take advantage of spring fever by bringing the outdoors inside with some plant activities?

Bring Nature Indoors

Plants provide an excellent way to teach students about inquiry and science process skills. Something as simple as growing seeds in cups can provide endless hours of classroom activities. You can start by purchasing some seeds, such as lima beans or peas, and placing them in a baggie with a wet paper towel. Within two or three days, the seeds will begin to sprout, and students can plant them (sprout side down) in some potting soil (about ¾ inch deep). By allowing them to sprout before planting, the seeds will grow faster and provide almost instant excitement when the first green shoots begin to pop out of the soil.

Compare and Contrast Various Plants

Individuals or small groups can investigate how different variables affect plant growth. Give them a few color-coded cups and have them place the cups around the room. For instance, each group has three red cups, three blue cups, and three green cups. Each cup gets a similar seed. So, lima beans in each red cup, peas in each blue cup, and sweet peas in each green cup. Near the window, each group can place a cup of each color, in the coat room they can place another cup, and a table somewhere a third set of cups. Each day your kids will love checking to see how light affects the growth of their plants. You can extend this idea by varying water amounts or fertilizer amounts. Add some math by having groups measure and chart plant growth. Assign different types of charts to each group. For example, one group makes a pie chart, another makes a bar graph etc. Hang up all the charts and discuss the similarities and differences in reporting data.

Research Projects Using Plants

Capitalize on the fact that your pupils are yearning to be outside by assigning them a research project about plants. Topics can be individually selected, and the choices are many. Someone can research which types of flowers are preferred by various pollinators (such as butterflies), and someone else could choose to document the numbers and types of insects observed around a particular flower garden. As a class, you could also track the path of Monarch Butterflies  as they make their way north from Mexico using this project. If you plant milkweed near your school, you can even encourage Monarchs to make a stop in your area. 

Ideas for Extending Lessons on Plants

As part of a plant unit, students might also learn about the parts of a flower, the life cycle of a plantplant reproduction, or the role insects play as plant pollinators.  The possibilities are endless, and you’ll have given your students a reason to stay focused on learning in the last few weeks of school! What follows are more plant life cycle activities and lessons.

Plant Life Cycle Activities

The Tiny Seed

Here, pupils conduct an investigation to compare and contrast how seeds grow in different locations. They find out how seeds travel and identify the parts of a seed.

How Does a Green Plant Grow?

This lesson, which can be used at various grade levels, teaches how seeds grow. Pupils design a way to experiment with seed growth, conduct the experiment, and then discuss their results.

The Great Plant Escape

Scholars participate in a WebQuest about plants. They learn about the parts of a plant, plant life cycles, and how plants reproduce.

How Much Is Too Much? How Little Is Too Little?

Pupils perform experiments to determine the nutrients plants need. They learn about fertilizers, compost, and soil management. They identify nutrient deficiencies in plants. They vote on issues related to agriculture and urban water issues.