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Education Program - 1st Grade: Plants in the Fall


  1. To show students that plants are significant members of natural communities.
  2. To teach students what plants need to survive.
  3. To show students how diverse the plant world is.
  4. To evoke appreciation and a sense of wonder about the life history of plants.


  • Why are plants important?
  • What do plants need, and what do leaves do?
  • Life of a tree Seed search and dispersal.

Key concepts that students should know:

  • Parts of a tree: roots, trunk, branches, leaves
  • Seeds: know that new plants grow from seeds

Five Trail Rules of Conduct:

  1. Walk quietly.
  2. Stay on the trails.
  3. Stay behind the leader and listen carefully.
  4. Do not pick anything connected to the ground.
  5. Do not chew gum because it can hurt animals if they eat it.

First Grade - Fall Post-visit Activities

Following your visit to the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve, you may want to try some of the activities listed below.

Tree Life Cycle Bingo

Make bingo cards using the four life cycle pictures from the booklet or included at this site. Put one or more Free spaces on the bingo cards. Call out a stage in the life cycle of trees: seed, seedling, sapling, and adult tree. Have the students cover up their spaces with pennies or buttons. The first student with five spaces in a row in any direction wins. You can also play for "four corners." That means that whoever covers all four corner spaces first wins. You can play whole card bingo in which all spaces on the card have to be covered.

Design a Seed

Provide the students with many different materials to make into a seed. You may want to have small stones, modeling clay, feathers, velcro, and other materials. Ask each student to make a seed that could be transported by one of the methods we discussed. Have each student explain how their seeds would be transported. Remember, the methods we talked about are blowing in the wind, floating, riding on animals, being buried, and being eaten and dropped.

Every Tree for Itself

This activity is from the Project Learning Tree curriculum, pages 83-84. Prepare squares of construction paper to represent the needs of trees: yellow for sun, blue for water, green for nutrients. You can also use colored poker chips. Tell the students that in this game they will be trees. Have them stand about three feet apart and "plant" themselves. The object of the game is to gather as many squares as they can. They can only pick up the squares within arm's reach. They may not move their feet. Distribute the colored squares or poker chips evenly around the students. Start the first round and let the students gather their needs for 30 seconds. Discuss the results of the first round. How many squares did each person get? Did some trees lack some of their needs? Try another round and see if the results are any different. Some variations are having the students stand closer together, having only half the class participate, using fewer water squares (drought conditions) or fewer sun squares (overcrowding) or fewer nutrient squares (poor quality soil). Discuss with the students how different habitats may provide different amounts of the plants' needs. Areas with a lot of water and little sunlight may be like rainforests or marshy areas. Areas with a lot of sun and little water may be deserts.

First Grade - Spring Post-visit activities

Following your visit to the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve, you may want to try some of the activities listed below.

Wildflower Twister

Assemble a twister board using the wildflower line drawings included. You may want to laminate the board to give it more stability. Some examples of the directions you can give the students follow:

  • "Put your left foot on the Trout Lily."
  • "Put your right foot on the Violet."
  • "Put your left hand on a yellow flower."
  • "Put your right hand on a white flower."
  • "Place an elbow on the Spring Beauty."
  • "Place a knee on the Trillium."
  • "Put your left foot on a flower with three petals."
  • "Put your right foot on a flower with five petals."
  • "Place your right hand on the Mayapple."
  • "Put your left hand on the Dandelion."

Flower Life Cycle

Ask your students to act out the life cycle of a flower. Start as a seed growing in the ground. Extend a root below and a shoot above. Grow a flower that slowly opens to attract bees. A bee brings pollen from another flower. The pollen grows down into the middle of the flower where a new seed begins to grow. The petals fall off the flower as the seed develops. The seeds get bigger and bigger and may be surrounded by a fruit. The seed is either eaten by animals or drops to the ground to produce a new plant.

Wildflower Matching

Ask the students to match the flower names to their pictures. Use the following flower names and pictures: blue and yellow violet, columbine, dandelion, jack-in-the-pulpit, mayapple, spring beauty, trillium, trout lily, wild geranium, wild strawberry, wood anemone, and yellow rocket.