2-GA-LS-1.a.b.c.d Life Cycles of the Rich and Famous



Students will investigate the life cycle of a plant by germinating a seed and wearing it as a living necklace to monitor its growth. After leaves and roots appear, the seedling will be planted in the garden and its growth measured regularly. Students will design experiments to answer their questions about how plants grow. As an extension, students may create mini-greenhouses to grow plants outside during early spring (or late fall).

Students will investigate which plant parts get stuck to animals and given a ride to faraway places.

Planting milkweed in fall or early spring could attract monarch butterflies who may lay their eggs on the plants. Emerging caterpillars eat the milkweed plants, form their chrysalides, and develop into butterflies before students’ eyes.



Georgia Standards of Excellence in Science (GSES):

S2L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the life cycles of different living organisms.

a. Ask questions to determine the sequence of the life cycle of common animals in your area: a mammal such as a cat, dog or classroom pet, a bird such as a chicken, an amphibian such as a frog, and an insect such as a butterfly.

b. Plan and carry out an investigation of the life cycle of a plant by growing a plant from a seed and by recording changes over a period of time.

c. Construct an explanation of an animal’s role in dispersing seeds or in the pollination of plants.

d. Develop models to illustrate the unique and diverse life cycles of organisms other than humans.

NGSS Standard:


NGSS Evidence Statement:


Other Standards:


Elicit Questions:
Environmental Stewardship:






Plant Life Cycle
Students will make and observe living necklaces.
Wet a cotton ball and squeeze out excess water; flatten the cotton.
Place seed in middle of flattened cotton and fold cotton around it.
Insert the cotton and seed in a small (2” x 2”) zip-top bag and seal.
Punch hole in bag in the margin above seal.
Thread 20” – 24” lanyard or yarn through hole to make necklace long enough for student to see.
Let plant germinate in zip top bag and grow until it hits the top (approximately 5 – 7 days).
Open bag enough to let stem grow outside.
Add drops of water whenever cotton dries out.
When four leaves are present, carefully remove plant from bag and plant into container.
If soil temperatures are warm, transplant seedling to the garden.

Seed Dispersal 
To cultivate curiosity about why certain plant parts seem designed to hitchhike away with the nearest animal, students will walk through a meadow with big socks worn over their shoes (to simulate animal fur) and analyze what sticks.
Each student will pull a big white crew sock over his or her shoe.
The class will walk through a meadow or field (not turf grass, which has no weeds; and preferably not deep woods, where lack of sunlight reduces the variety of plants).
After the meadow walk, students will take off the socks and collect data on which plant parts were the most common hitchhikers
(See Tally Chart and Bar Graph).  hitchhiker_tally_chart
Students will think of ideas why the most common hitchhiking plant parts (seeds) may benefit from being carried away. (To be able to grow new plants far from the parent plant is an adaptive strategy that reduces the chance that a type of plant could be completely wiped out if they are too crowded, or in too shady an area to grow, or something bad happened (fire, disease, etc) in the one place where they live.

Elicit Questions



Plant Life Cycle

Ask students what they have observed and what they wonder about plant growth. Record their questions.

Let students suggest answers to the questions and discuss what evidence could be collected to prove the answers correct or not. In small groups, design plant growth experiments.

For instance, to determine whether each set of leaves on a plant moves up the stem as the plant grows, students can mark the spot and measure it (along with total plant height) every day.

To determine whether sunlight is needed for plant growth, students could build a shade structure over one plant or cover a leaf with aluminum foil.

The specific experiment is not as important as students learning to challenge each other by asking, “what is your evidence for that?” or “what proof do you have?” or “what could we do to prove or disprove that idea?”

Seed Dispersal 

Teams of students will construct an explanation for an animal’s role is dispersing seeds including:
More than one way animals help disperse (spread) seeds to other areas
An example of each way
At least one reason why it benefits plants for animals to help spread seeds




Plant Life Cycle
Students will gather data as they observe plants growing; use reasoning to make sense of plant growth stages; and communicate their findings.

After the seeds have germinated, they can be transplanted from the necklace bag to a paper cup for further growth in the classroom (if too cold to grow outside), or transplanted directly in the garden.

Students should monitor plant growth on a regular schedule, measuring height and number of leaves, recording data on charts, and drawing pictures. Be sure to monitor
the plant life cycle all the way to the next generation (from seed to seed).


Seed Dispersal 
Students will learn observe three ways animals help plants disperse seeds away from the parent plant by watching this slide show.


Seed Dispersal:
Students will observe and explore ways some plants can disperse their seeds far and wide without help from animals by watching these videos from the PBS series Nature, and then going on a scavenger hunt in the schoolyard to look for evidence of seed dispersal methods:
Flying Seeds video
Shooting Seeds video

3D Science

Disciplinary Core Ideas:

Supplies and Prep

Growing Living Necklaces (Engage) For each student:
  • Seed (radish or other fast-growing type)
  • Small 2” x 3” zip top bag
  • Hole punch
  • Cord for necklace (24”)
  • Cotton ball
  • Water
  • Popsicle stick to mark plant in garden
  • Ruler
For the class:
  • Garden bed with water source
Preparation: Choose a species of seed appropriate to be planted outside in the school garden, after it germinates. Radishes are a good choice because they mature very quickly, and students can observe the entire seed to seed cycle in less than two months. In fall, other possibilities include kale, spinach, or a winter squash. In spring, try bean, okra, yellow squash, or bell pepper. Tally Chart and Bar Graph

Environmental Stewardship


STEM Connections



Small Group Learning Activity:


Individual Learning Activity:


Teaching Tips



Not sure where these activities from the PPT file belong in this lesson?

Students will learn about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly by GROWING MILKWEED AND OBSERVING THE MONARCH LIFE CYCLE IN THE GARDEN and by observing these photos from Journey North:

Students will divide into teams of two – four and present skits that illustrate the life cycles of various organisms, noting that all animals and plants have life cycles (stages of growth and development). They may learn about life cycles by observing classroom or schoolyard animals or by watching slide shows

Chicken Life Cycle – http://www.slideshare.net/saoirseryan75/chickens-life-cycle
Frog Life Cycle – http://www.slideshare.net/eboreman/frog-life-cycle-8506915
Cat Life Cycle – https://spark.adobe.com/page/78EZK/

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