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New Teachers New York:
Lesson Plans by New Teachers, For New Teachers
The Beginning of a Plant 


To develop students' understanding of how environments affect the growth of living things

Created by Rachael Mitchell
Location: PS 44
Grade: 3rd grade
Subject: Science

If you have any questions regarding this activity, please contact Rachael at:

Instructional Objective: 

Students will observe the inside of a bean seed to discover the beginning of a plant

Students will plant bean seeds in different environments

Vocabulary/Key Concepts:

Environment, observe, embryo, seed coat, stored food, cooperative groups, prediction



Growing bean plant
Bean seeds (soaked, un-soaked)
Enlarged drawing of the seed
Pots (large, small)
Ziploc bags
Paper towels
Water/water bottles

Introducing the Lesson and Establishing Prior Connections:

  • Teacher uses a growing bean plant to introduce the lesson. To establish the connection and to build on students' prior knowledge, in preparation for this lesson, teacher should plant the bean seeds with the class a week or two before so the plant can be ready for this lesson.
  • Link the two lessons with a question/statement such as: "Remember when we planted some bean seeds a couple weeks ago? It grew into a beautiful plant but have you ever wondered how seeds begin to grow? How did those turn into a plant?" (Have bean seeds to demonstrate)
  • Introduce the lesson: Today, we are going to do two things. We will observe the inside of a seed to find out where the plant begins. Then, we are going to plant two sets of bean seeds. We are going to plant seeds in different environments/habitats and we are going to observe what happens.

Presentation: Mini lesson

  • Teacher uses a soaked bean and demonstrates how to split it lengthwise.
  • With the aid of a large chart showing the parts of the inside of the seed, teacher identifies the different parts students may see inside their seed and talk about the importance of these parts to the plant.

Parts of the seed
Embryo-baby plant
Seed coat- protects the young plant
Stored food- food for the developing plant

  • Establish the point that without these different parts of the seed, we would not have a bean plant (that the different parts seen inside the plant are very important for the seed to grow into a plant)
  • Explain to students that they're going to work in groups to plant their own seeds.
  • Each table (four tables in all) will plant two sets of beans
  • Students will plants two bean seeds in a pot with soil and two on a paper towel in a Ziploc bag. (They will continue to monitor the seeds under the different conditions and observe and record what happens)
  • Teacher demonstrates what students are expected to do: Take the pot, put three scoops of soil, make two small holes with the finger, drop the seeds in, cover it up, water it (three sprays with the water bottle)
  • Demonstrate how to fold paper towel, place in Ziploc bag, and place two seeds on paper towel, water with three sprays from the bottle.


Guided Practice:

In pair groups, students discuss this question:

We have two seeds that we're going to plant. They're the same bean seeds but we're going to plant them in different environments/habitats: one in soil and one on a paper towel. What do you predict will happen to these two seeds?

Call on two pairs of students to share.

  • Introduce students to the observation sheet they will be complete
  • Explain to students the directions for the independent activity
  • Remind students about the rules for working in small groups. Each student in the cooperative group is given an assigned role.

Instructions: You are going to work in groups based on the table you are seating at. The very first thing you are going to do when you go back to your seats is to observe the inside of the seeds on your table. You can talk about it quietly with your group members. Then, on your sheet, you will draw what you see and name the three parts (chart will be posted to aid students in the labeling). I will give you a few minutes to do that and when I tell you to, you are going to begin planting your seeds.

Each table will plant two seeds in a pot with soil and two seeds in a bag. After you're finished planting, on your record sheet, you are going to write everything that you did (observed). Then you are going to make a prediction. What do you think will happen to the seeds if we put them in the dark without any light?
(Students will be reminded of these instructions after they finish observing and drawing the seed).

Independent Practice

  • In cooperative groups, students observe the inside of a soaked bean and discuss what they observe.
  • They will draw what they see and label the parts as shown on the chart.
  • They will plant two different set of seeds and record their procedure

Summary/Follow-up discussion

What did we learn today? Call on two or three students to share

Extension and related activities: Students will observe their seeds over the next two weeks and record their observations

Homework: Students will complete a journal entry on their experiences of observing, planting and making predictions during the lesson.

Assessment/Evaluation of Learning: Students will be assessed using a rubric based on three dimensions:

Identification of parts of seed
Process involved in the planting of a seed/Ability to put together an experiment
Predictions made

Assessment Rubric: Observing seeds to discover the beginning of a plant and planting bean seeds in different environments.

Identification of parts of the seed Student identifies one or none of the parts of the seed Student correctly identifies at least two parts of the seed Student correctly identifies the three parts of the seed
Process involved in planting a seed/Ability to put together an experiment Student demonstrates little knowledge of the process involved in putting the experiment together.
Student describes few or none of the steps involved
Student demonstrates partial knowledge of the process involved in putting the experiment together by describing some of the steps involved Student demonstrates clear knowledge of the process involved in putting the experiment together by describing most or all of the steps involved
Predictions on how a change in environment will affect the growth of seeds Student is unable to predict how a change in environment (lack of sunlight) will affect the growth of seeds Student reasonably predicts at least one way in which the change in environment will affect the growth of the seeds Student correctly predicts at least two or more ways in which the change in environment will affect the growth of the seeds

Standards Being Addressed: NYS Standard 4: Science

Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles pertaining to the living environment

Observe how plants depend on the non-living environment

This lesson caters to students of varying academic abilities as well as learning styles. The cooperative learning groups, the hands-on nature of the activities, demonstrations during the mini lesson and the corresponding charts affords every student the opportunity to engage in the lesson whether they are tactile, auditory or visual learners. This lesson can also be adapted to students of different age and grade levels particularly at the lower grades 1-3. To ensure maximum benefit to the students, teachers should place students of varying academic skills and abilities within the groups.

Lessons Best Features:

The cooperative learning groups along with the fact that the lesson provides every student the opportunity to experience science in a fun and engaging way regardless of learning styles and academic abilities are among its greatest asset.

Tips for the Teacher:

Teachers should plan and assign students to cooperative groups prior to the lesson based on their knowledge of their student population. Having prepared labels of the students' names and their roles in the group placed at their given tables will ensure a smooth transition from the mini lesson to the group activities. It also serves to enhance performance when students know what their roles are prior to the activity and to give students a sense of belonging when every child has a role in the group.

About the Teacher
Rachael Mitchell is a first year teacher in the NYC Public School System. She currently teaches at the third grade level. Prior to entering the public schools, she taught for eight years at the high school level and two years at a parochial school at the fourth and third grades respectively. Rachael has a passion for teaching particularly in the area of literacy. As a teacher, she continually strives to create plans that engage her students in fun and creative ways in their learning.


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