Learning about plants

Every week at Rayito de Sol we have a theme for our teachers and students. This week we are learning about plants and the environment. With Spring just around the corner, you’ll soon have all kinds of ways to put this learning to use. We think plants are a particularly cool topic because they have so much to teach us.

Below we have depicted a typical age-appropriate lesson plan for plant week. Notice that STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math) is at the top of the menu because we’ve sprinkled a number of activities and in-home experiments throughout the week. You will also see how plants drive the use of fine motor skills (important for toddlers) and drive home social|emotional and cognitive learnings which are so important today.

The lesson plan for a typical week.

Plants are like people. And that’s cool.

To really see what makes plants so cool to learn about, just add water. Plants take water from the soil through their roots. The water contains nutrients (think food) the plants need to grow. The water moves up through the plant to the leaves carrying nutrients to all parts of the plant where they are needed. If you think that sounds a lot like a human being, you’re right. Learning about plants shows us that all living things are connected and why it is important to take care of the natural world that sustains us.

Making water that walks.

Water is what makes people (and plants) what they are. But most of us don’t have the patience to watch a flower grow from a seedling. Good to know you can still create all kinds of experiments to show how water moves from place to the place. We have some simple science to do with the family to wow everyone with the magic of water. It’s called “Walking Water” and you only need a few supplies you already have around the house. (By the way, don’t try this with toilet paper even if you do have an extra stash.)

Instructions:

  • Place 7 cups in a row and pour water in the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th cup (3/4 full).
  • Add 5 drops of red food coloring to the 1st cup and the 7th cup.
  • Add 5 drops of yellow food coloring to the 3rd cup.
  • Add 5 drops of blue food coloring to the 5th cup.
  • Take a half sheet of paper towel and fold it in half lengthwise and in half again
    lengthwise.
  • Trim off some of the length so that there isn’t too much excess paper towel that
    will stick up in the air between each cup. This will make the water walk more quickly.
  • Place one half of a rolled paper towel in the 1st cup and place the other half in the
    cup next to it. Then another paper towel from 2nd cup and into the 3rd cup. This
    continues until you have placed the last paper towel that drapes over from the 6th
    cup to the 7th cup.
  • Stare at the cups and watch what starts happening. You should quickly be able to
    see the colored water begin to crawl up the paper towel.

 

What science teaches us. The water moves up the paper towels through a process called capillary action. The paper towel is made from fibers and the water is able to travel through the gaps in the fibers. Plants, like, people, both have capillaries to move liquids from place to place.

The gaps in the paper towel act like capillary tubes and pull the water upward. The water is able to move upward against gravity because of the attractive forces between the water and the fibers in the paper towel. It’s a colorful way to watch the natural world at work.

STEAM Learning at Rayito de Sol