A plant reproduction resource for NZ Curriculum levels 1 and 2. Explore some of the science ideas behind plant life cycles, seed dispersal and how some plants reproduce without seeds.
Humans have many reasons to grow plants: for food, for building materials or simply for pleasure. A plant really just has one reason to grow – to reproduce to make more plants like it.
Angela Schipper – the writer
The Hub is full of excellent science information so it was my goal to modify some of our existing materials for use with lower primary school students. The Living World and plants seemed a good place to start. The pollination and ferns articles provided much of the background information. The text in these articles has been simplified to reflect the younger audience.
The science behind seeds, stems and spores
These are the big science ideas in this collection:
- Plants are divided into two main groups based on how they reproduce (seeds and spores).
- The seed-flower life cycle. Plants grow from seeds. Flowers produce seeds. Plants growing from a seed will produce the same type of flower, fruit and seeds.
- Plants have various ways to disperse their seeds.
- Flowering plants also have many ways to move their pollen.
- Not all plants grow from seeds. Some can grow from spores, bulbils, cuttings, rhizomes or tubers.
Hands-on (and feet-on) learning
With the science articles in place, my next step was to design student activities – and the best people to help me with these activities were children themselves. I sent word to my favourite educational ally, Maree van Mil, and was readily invited to visit her year 2 classroom. For years, I’ve had the pleasure of playing Mrs Frizzle, sister of the famous Magic School Bus teacher Valerie Frizzle, with Maree’s students. The Friz swept into the classroom, and I had a delightful time getting to know the children and listening to their viewpoints and explanations on how the living world of plants works. This information helped to form the activities we used with the students and I subsequently styled for the Hub. We even got the children to eat broad beans after examining them for embryos. Try getting a 6-year-old to eat those at home!
Maree followed up every visit with art and literacy activities to record and deepen student understanding of the key science ideas. Children’s work, comments and photos were the foundation of vibrant wall displays. At the end of the unit, the children invited me back to the classroom and presented their work to me. They also gave me a bouquet of flowers – and happily told me all about the blossoms’ reproductive structures!
Take up the challenge
Other student activities include:
- Common foods and plant parts uses a graphic organiser to identify whether a food is a root, stem, leaf, flower, seed or fruit.
- Matching seeds and fruits uses activity cards to match seeds with the fruits from which they grow.
- Looking at seeds and fruits is a ready-to-use cross-curricular teaching resource. Intended for NZC levels 2–3, this worksheet-based activity does not require internet access and has multiple literacy activities.
- Pollination role-plays – pipe cleaner finger puppets take on the role of insects, birds and wind to simulate different pollinators.
- Seed dispersal puppet play uses stick puppets to explain how plants disperse their seeds.
- Woolly sock walk – meander through long grass to experience seed dispersal.
- Growing new plants without seeds uses spores, bulbils, rhizomes, stolons, tubers or cuttings to grow new plants.
- Student-led investigations about seeds encourages students to choose a question concerning seeds and then design an investigation to find the answer.
- The level 2 Connected journal The Buzz of Bees has articles and teacher support materials on honey bees and pollination.
Introduce students to some of the science ideas and concepts relating to pollination with this unit plan. It is suitable for students working at NZC levels 1 and 2.
For teachers wishing to extend student knowledge of flowering plant life cycles, the Pollination collection provides ideal follow-on resources.