K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • identify parts of a plant.
  • determine plant height by non-standard and standard units of measurement.
  • place plants in order by their height (or plant growth).
  • compare data to produce class graph of plant growth.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 weeks


  • potting soil
  • seeds
  • paper clips
  • rulers
  • crayons
  • pennies
  • plants
  • pencils
  • poster board
  • post-it notes
  • markers
  • review worksheets

Technology resources

Classroom computer with access to the internet.


Students will need to be able to identify the differences between an animal and plant. Students should evaluate plant environments and determine which types of environments promote plant growth.


  1. Students discuss the different parts of a plant. After the introduction of the seed, students plant their own seed to evaluate plant growth.
  2. As the class waits for their plants to grow up through the soil, discuss the other parts of the plant. Discuss each part and how it helps with the survival of the plant. Discuss the needs of the plant. Using this knowledge, provide the best environment for the plants. Check the Weather Channel website daily to predict how beneficial each day will be for our plants.
  3. As the class begins to observe plant growth, compare plant growth to weather conditions each day. As a class, practice comparing objects in the classroom. Put the objects in order from shortest to tallest and begin measuring plants and objects in the classroom with a paper clip. Repeat the measuring process with a crayon, a pencil, and a penny to review the measurement process.
  4. When students are comfortable with the measurement process, introduce the ruler. Students will become familiar with the inch and will measure items in the classroom in heterogeneous groups (in order to assist in understanding) to the closest inch. Students measure their plants with their ruler daily.
  5. At the conclusion of the unit, students measure their plant and record their plant height and place it on our class graph. As a group, compare plants and determine which order plants will be from shortest to tallest. Check your results through the classroom graph.


Teacher will assess students in small groups during center time and will evaluate understanding in large and small groups. Individually, students will complete a measurement worksheet for assessment and evaluation of understanding.

Supplemental information

Teacher may want to grow several types of seeds before hand to see which seeds grow faster. Teacher may want to use these plants for measurement exercises or as a guide for the students to show them how they should “take care” of their own plants.


If the weather does not cooperate, teacher may wish to use fertilizer on the plants. Teacher may choose to plant seeds in pots and place them at a classroom window, so that plants will not risk danger from lawn mowers, animals, or neighborhood children.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • Measurement & Data
          • 1.MD.1 Order three objects by length; compare the lengths of two objects indirectly by using a third object.
          • 1.MD.2 Express the length of an object as a whole number of length units, by laying multiple copies of a shorter object (the length unit) end to end; understand that the length measurement of an object is the number of same-size length units that span it with...
        • Kindergarten

          • K.MD.1Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object.
          • K.MD.2Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/“less of” the attribute, and describe the difference. For example, directly compare the heights of two children and describe one child as taller/shorter.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • 1.L.1 Understand characteristics of various environments and behaviors of humans that enable plants and animals to survive. 1.L.1.1 Recognize that plants and animals need air, water, light (plants only), space, food and shelter and that these may be found...
        • 1.L.2 Summarize the needs of living organisms for energy and growth. 1.L.2.1 Summarize the basic needs of a variety of different plants (including air, water, nutrients, and light) for energy and growth. 1.L.2.2 Summarize the basic needs of a variety of different...
      • Kindergarten

        • K.L.1 Compare characteristics of animals that make them alike and different from other animals and nonliving things. K.L.1.1 Compare different types of the same animal (i.e. different types of dogs, different types of cats, etc.) to determine individual differences...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 2: Measurement - The learner will use non-standard units of measure and tell time.
    • Objective 2.01: For given objects:
      • Select an attribute (length, capacity, mass) to measure (use non-standard units).
      • Develop strategies to estimate size.
      • Compare, using appropriate language, with respect to the attribute selected.


  • Goal 2: Measurement - The learner will explore concepts of measurement.
    • Objective 2.01: Compare attributes of two objects using appropriate vocabulary (color, weight, height, width, length, texture).
  • Goal 4: Data Analysis and Probability - The learner will collect, organize and display data.
    • Objective 4.01: Collect and organize data as a group activity.

Science (2005)

Grade 1

  • Goal 1: The learner will conduct investigations and make observations to build an understanding of the needs of living organisms.
    • Objective 1.01: Investigate the needs of a variety of different plants:
      • Air.
      • Water.
      • Light.
      • Space.