Plant Journal

In this lesson, children will observe and document plant growth over time, while using descriptive language to examine changes in plant characteristics.

Content Area:

Growth and Change

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • Understand that living things grow and change
  • Understand that living things rely on the environment and/or others to live and grow

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Observing, investigating, describing and categorizing living things
  • Showing an awareness of changes that occur in the environment
  • Describing and comparing the basic needs of living things
  • Showing respect for living things
toddler planting

Plant Journal

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Seeds/seedlings
  • Pots
  • Planting Soil
  • Watering Can
  • Journals (notebook or stapled paper booklet)
  • Pencils
  • Camera (optional)

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce activity.

  1. In a large group, explain that everyone will be planting seeds in the classroom. Explain that we will keep track of the seeds/plants by observing them on a daily and/or weekly basis.
  2. Discuss why it is important to observe plants and care for them daily.
  3. Invite children to share what they already know about plants, how they grow and how to take care of them.
  4. Explain that the children will have their own journals to record their observations when they notice changes in their plants.

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Separate the children into small groups and ask them to select a seed that they would like to grow.
  2. Ask the children to document the seed’s initial state in their journal as they draw the seed. Guide the children’s observations by describing seed characteristics.
  3. After this initial documentation, invite children to water their seeds daily.
  4. Once the seeds have sprouted, separate the children into small groups and invite them to observe and document their seed’s growth and change. This can take place on a daily or weekly basis, depending on the plant’s rate of noticeable growth.
  5. If possible, have the children photograph their plants at different stages, so that they document their observations with photos, as well as  drawings.
  6. When the plants have grown, separate the children into small groups and invite them to share and discuss the similarities and differences between their plants and their journals.

Step 4: Vocabulary.

  • Observe: To watch and document an item to gather information
  • Document: To write down observations that can be used to identify changes or similarities over time
  • Growth: How a living thing develops over time

Early Science Glossary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Not yet have fine motor skills to draw accurate representations of plants or seeds
  • Use simple sentences to describe their observations
Child care providers may:
  • Add more photographs to children’s journals to visually see the changes that occur
  • Write down children’s dictations instead of drawings
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Be interested in comparing aspects of height, width and leaf count
  • Make connections between outdoor plants or plants in their homes
  • Notice similarities and differences between plant types
Child care providers may:
  • Provide measuring tools or support mathematical language in describing plant characteristics
  • Use children’s background knowledge of plants to make comparisons to plants in the classroom and the outdoor or home environment
  • Arrange experiments with room location, amounts of water and/or type of soil for children to draw conclusions about plant needs

Suggested Books

  • Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
  • Because of an Acorn by Lola and Adam Schaefer
  • The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
  • The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

  • Explore what plants grow in the neighborhood
  • Visit a plant nursery or community garden

Web Resources

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