3 Ways to Teach Plants

One of the reasons why I enjoy teaching our plant unit is because it is relatable in our everyday lives. Students usually have prior knowledge of plants and all they have to do is look outside a window to observe and to learn about this science topic. But if you are like me and you are in a windowless science lab, you can bring the plants to your students. I love to bring in a bouquet of flowers during this unit to use as a teaching tool AND it makes the room look a bit cheerier and smell a bit more beautiful. (and a little less like Axe body spray). If it’s a gorgeous day out- here’s your perfect excuse to get outdoors! Take your students out and have them observe the various types of plants in the school yard. Plants are a very tangible science topic, so use what you have around you to teach the unit- whether it is leaves that you pluck off a neighbor’s front lawn (what? they have different bushes than we do…), a couple of potted plants from your back patio, or artificial plants and flowers (you can get snag these at the dollar store!) Below are my favorite activities to use during our Plant Unit.

1. Plant Parts and Functions

Have students create a classified ad to show the relationship between plant parts and functions. You’ll have to start the lesson with “Back in my time…” or “In the old days….” because most likely, your students will not know what it is, but they always have a blast doing it! You can get the Plant Classifieds Ad Activity here.

2. Classification of Plants

Have students show their understanding of classifying plants by creating pins that would be in a Plants Pinterest Profile or try a Monocot & Dicot Seek and Sort– a twist to card sorts.

3. Photosynthesis

Use a Photosynthesis or Plants Seek and Find to have students search for examples of key terms for your plant unit. This works well as a hook, unit title page in their ISN, or as a review. Check out my post about the Science Behind Seek & Finds.

Plants can be an easy topic to teach, but you can make it more engaging by giving students the opportunity to discover the plant life in their environment. Let your students’ writing skills shine when they create their Plants Classifieds Ad, allow them to use their art skills when they create Plant Pinterest Boards and keep things fun with Seek and Find Science for Plants and Photosynthesis.

A Twist on Student Presentations

If you have ever sat through 6 periods of class presentations, you know that class presentations can be a total nightmare! Presentations usually entail a student reading straight off a script (in a robotic voice, not making any eye contact), another student who can’t stop giggling, the one kid whose job is to hold the poster (and doing a terrible job of it) and unengaged audience members who are simply thinking about their own project and presentation. I know most teachers simply don’t do presentations because they seem to be a waste of time- having to take multiple class periods and there doesn’t seem to be much bang for their buck. But, if you are not having students present their work or their project, you are doing a huge disservice to your students. Being able to communicate in an effective manner is critical for people when they enter the workforce. Effective communication takes practice. A lot of practice. Check out my twist to classroom presentations and your students will be experts in no time. (a win for everyone)

How it Works

  1. Divide your class groups in half. One half will be presenting, while the others are the audience.
  2. Have your presenting groups (half of the groups) stand in various places in your classroom. It can even be at their tables. Have each of the remaining groups (audience) go to a presenting group.
  3. Allow the presenting group 5 minutes to present to their small group.
  4. Have the small group audience rotate to the next presenting group. The presenting group presents again to another audience. Yes… I said again. This is perfect because they don’t just present and sit down and it is over with. They have an opportunity to get comfortable and refine their presentation for the next group.
  5. After students present to each of the audience groups, the audience now becomes the presenters and will present to rotating groups.

Why it Works

  1. Practice makes progress! Students get multiple opportunities to present.
  2. It allows students to present anywhere in the classroom. Students feel more comfortable when they aren’t standing front in center of the classroom.
  3. Audience members are not distracted because they are not sitting at their desks (near their project or their presentation).
  4. It offers a more intimate setting where students can learn from their peers.
  5. Everyone can present in just one class period! No more wasted time!

I can’t tell you how much this method of presenting has changed my classroom and has increased my students’ presentation skills. It has made my students learn to engage their audience and most importantly speak more confidently.

The Science Behind SciQuest

Can I make a confession? Even though I totally geek out on science- I’m far from a science nerd. No one can believe that I haven’t watched a Star Wars movie nor any of the Harry Potter movies. (Gasp! I know.) It’s just not my thing! The wizardry stuff, meh… doesn’t do anything for me. Well, imagine my shock when I went on a family vacation to Great Wolf Lodge and there was this interactive game called MagiQuest. It was a wizard themed scavenger hunt where kids would use clues in a book to find items located all over the hotel. They would use their digital wands to collect magical items and ultimately runes, which would give them more power. Sounds lame… right? NOPE! EV-ER-Y kid had a wand and they were eating this game up. I mean, like completely! I have never seen kids so engaged in an activity, but after all, it was like a virtual video game where they were playing the main character. I liked it because it made me use my brain (because let’s be honest… the clues were over my daughter’s head- she was there to just point and shoot the wand) and I got a TON of steps walking all over the hotel grounds. Academics and exercise- it’s a win all around!  

And then it clicked. “Ohh.. What if all students could play this game, but with science questions instead???? And that is when SciQuest was born! Yup, I use that same wizardry nerdiness to draw the students in, and students collect items on their quest by answering science questions They will love getting to move around the room or their campus to hunt for icons in this mythical-themed science scavenger hunt. A pocket-sized quest booklet will be the guide for their journey. When all the correct items are collected for the quest, the students will receive a rune- moving them up to the rank of Master Mage. (Full disclosure- I had to do a ton of research and recruit my super nerdy brother to help me out because wizard talk is a foreign language to me)

See what Teachers who have used SciQuest are saying…

I can’t even start to tell you how much I LOVE THIS PRODUCT. I have transformed my classroom into a SciQuest Wizard Academy. Students are searching for hidden symbols on canvas and doing the task cards when they find the clues. 8th graders are EXCITED about doing these quizzes. 10/10 This product saved me and my students during distance learning. It made class fun and engaging.

My students were completely engaged while we used this resource. They made it into a contest and we created levels of mastery since we used multiple scavenger hunts to review our 9 weeks unit. We used both the digital quest book and I created the booklets and checked some students manually. Overall I believe this is a great resource and I will and have bought everyone that fits with my 5th grade curriculum.

My students LOVED this resource. We turned on fun wizard music and turned the lights off so our fun lights lit their path. They talked about this for weeks and have their name sheets taped to their desks now months after. I will definitely be utilizing quests in more of my units.

This was incredible. It was so easy to put together, literally print, cut and hang around the room. No prep! My 7th grade life science special education students LOVED this! They were honestly racing around the room to be the first group to complete it! I gave out bonus points and candy in addition to the certificates! Thank you so much!

My students loved this! I printed out the smaller versions and hid them around the room on colored card stock. I told my students if they “unlocked” all of the ruins then they would open the treasure chest and be able to collect a gemstone (jolly rancher). I loved that my students were 100% engaged (even though some rolled their eyes at my nerd excitement in the beginning!) I also loved the self-checking piece that’s is built in like escape rooms (students came and checked their answers once each “location” was filled to collect a rune). The questions tested their knowledge as well, which when used as a review for the upcoming test it worked wonderful! It is like a beautiful baby between a gallery walk and an escape room!

This was AWESOME! My 7th graders loved this scavenger hunt and I loved setting it up! I hid the little jewels all over the entrance hall, hallways, science lab, and classroom. They loved finding the jewels and searching for the questions. I will definitely purchase again from this seller!

Just used this with my students this morning and they loved it! Since many of them are so-called “nerds,” they found it extremely engaging. Love the aspect that they can check their work on the Google Form! Great resource! Thank you!

Each SciQuest topic comes with 5 quests with 4 questions each in printable and fully digital versions. Check out the complete list of SciQuest Topics! There are over 50 science topics to choose from. Try this FREE Lab Equipment SciQuest Scavenger Hunt.