Teaching sequence

Lesson objective

In this lesson students learn about the needs of plants and plant some seeds for future observation.
Safety note: Ensure potting mix has been opened, aerated and is damp. For more information see Safety advice (PDF, 324 KB)


Show students the close-up images of the mealworms.

Mealworm pupa.
Mealworm 1.
Mealworm 2.
Mealworm 3.
Mealworm with skin shed.
Adult darkling beetle 1.
Adult darkling beetle 2.


Briefly discuss their features. Guide a whole group discussion to briefly review the week’s observations about the mealworms or class pet by asking the students the following questions:

  • Do you think we are meeting the needs of our mealworms?
  • Can you describe anything new you have learned about the needs of mealworms?
  • Has anyone noticed any changes in the mealworms or anything interesting happening?

Explain to students that in this science lesson they will start to think about the needs of another group of living things – plants. Hold up a weed complete with roots. Ask the students the following questions:

  • Do plants need food and water? What about air and shelter?
  • How do you know these things?

Explain that as a class they are going to investigate what plants need to grow from seeds. Hold up several different seed packets/types and identify the seed types to the students (seeSafety advice (PDF, 324 KB) for recommended seed types).


  1. Direct students to sit in a circle. Display the Word cards: Needs of plants (Word, 366 KB) Explain that these are the words that describe the needs of plants.
  2. Select the word ‘food’ and ask the students the following questions:
    • What do you think plants eat?
    • How do you think they get their food?
    Briefly discuss how plants get their food, using the weed to demonstrate.
  3. Tell students they are going to grow some class plants. Starting with the student directly beside you, go around the circle asking students to do the following steps.
    • Spread two, open newspapers in the circle to keep the carpet clean.
    • Place pots on the newspapers and put some soil in the pots (to 5 cm from the top)
    • Group the pots so you have the same number of groups as seed types.
    • Open the seed packs into containers and use a teaspoon to sprinkle some seeds into a pot keeping like seeds together. Ask students how they are going to remember which seeds are in which pot. Support the discussion to identify the need for labels. Hand out blank labels to students volunteering to draw label pictures. Use seed packets for help. Explain that seeds need shelter like us so we need to cover them with a blanket of soil. Hold up relevant word card ‘shelter’.
    • Use teaspoons to sprinkle a cover of soil over the seeds. Discuss where these plants should be located to grow best because they need light (in sunlight, outside, in protected place is best). (Optional: show the video Plant seedlings bending towards light source).
    • Attach labels to pots and move them to the selected location. Ask if anything else is needed for the plants to grow. Identify the remaining word cards (water and air).
    • Place meat trays under pots to give plants extra water to drink and water pots gently, showing how to observe amount of water in meat tray and wetness of soil.
  4. Consider a roster to check pots daily.


Provide all students with the worksheet What do plants need? (Word, 1.02 MB). Instruct students to draw a circle around all the things they think the seeds will need to grow.

Lesson Resources


Student activities

Digital resources

R11759 Plant seedlings bending towards light source, NDLRN. Image


Word cards: needs of plants 
(Word, 366 KB)

What do plants need? (Word, 1.02 MB)

Useful links

R6759 'Lift off’ – Ice flowers, NDLRN. Animated film about planting bulbs

R6840 'Lift off' – Treebeard, NDLRN. Animated film on plant growth

R11376 What does your garden grow? NDLRN. Unit of work

R11802 Broadbean seedlings emerging from soil, NDLRN. Short time-lapse clip