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Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, and Barbara Tharp, MS.

All About Plants

Complete instructions for conducting activities in this slide set, including materials needed, setup instructions, student sheets (in English and in Spanish), answer keys and extensions, can be found in The Science of Food Teacher’s Guide, which is available free-of-charge at


1. Help students remember basic plant parts by referring to a plant in the classroom or school yard as an example. Ask questions such as, Why are green plants special? (make food through photosynthesis); Where do plants trap sunlight to make food? (leaves and other green parts); Where do plants take in the water and nutrients that they need? (roots); How can we get more plants? (planting seeds or other reproductive parts of plants, such as stem sections); Where do seeds come from? (flowers, which develop fruits and seeds).

2. Follow by having students think about all the foods they have eaten that day that came from plants. Examples might include bread from wheat; cereals from oats, wheat and corn; juice from oranges and apples; etc. Ask, Did you know that we eat many different parts of plants?

3. Give each group of students a sheet of drawing paper, a plastic knife and one of the plant foods you have brought to class. Direct students to fold the sheet in fourths, creating four spaces in which to record information.

4. Give students an opportunity to observe and discuss their respective food items briefly before continuing.

5. Have groups provide the following information in the four squares on their sheets. In the first square, students should write a description of and/or draw the outside of the food. Before they fill in the second square, direct students to cut the food in half or in several pieces, so that they can observe the interior. Have them write a description of and/or draw the inside of the food in the second square.

6. Have students use their observations to describe in the third square what plant part or parts is/are represented by the food. They also should report the observations they used to reach their conclusions. For example, carrots have fine roots still attached to the large central root, and some students may have observed that carrots grow underground, etc.

7. In the final square, have students report different ways to prepare and eat the food. You may want to spend an extra class period on this step to allow students time to visit the library or to access the Internet to gather additional information.

8. Have each group share the information about its plant food with the rest of the class. You may want to contribute some fun facts about plant parts and food. For instance, we know that potatoes are stems, not roots (because a potato in water will produce leaves at the top and roots at the bottom); artichokes are similar to huge sunflower buds; and pineapples consist of the fleshy stems and flowers of a tropical plant.

Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

My Health My World: National Dissemination
Grant Number: 5R25ES009259
The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Number: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932

Houston Endowment Inc.

Foundations for the Future: Capitalizing on Technology to Promote Equity, Access and Quality in Elementary Science Education