Grouping Seeds

(a K-2 Plants lesson plan)

From the unit: Where did the trees in our playground come from?

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Students will compare and contrast seeds from different kinds of plants.
Standards and Benchmarks
AAAS Benchmarks
  • In doing science, it is often helpful to work with a team and to share findings with others. All team members should reach their own individual conclusions, however, about what the findings mean.
  • Some animals and plants are alike in the way they look and in the things they do, and others are very different from one another.
  • Describe and compare things in terms of number, shape, texture, size, weight, color, and motion.
  • Students will be able to group seeds from many different fruits and vegetables that come from different kinds of plants.
  • Students will be able to sort seeds (of various colors, sizes, and shapes) into groups by recognizing similarities and differences among seeds.
Class Time Needed
45 minutes
Teacher Preparation
1. Bring in 5-6 different kinds of seeds. Some of the seeds extracted in the lesson on Finding Seeds can be used for this activity.
  • Good choices for seeds include acorns, almonds, beans, peas, chick-peas, corn, rice, sunflower seeds, apple seeds, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, and seed packets (with seeds from flowers, grasses, and other types of plants).
2. Prepare plates with seeds so that they are ready to use.
  • Various types of seeds used in Day 1 and any additional seeds that were brought in (i.e. nuts, beans, rice, corn, seed packets). Students will sort these seeds in different ways based on the criteria that the group comes up with. Thus, each small group should probably receive 4-6 different kinds of seeds, and different groups can receive the same type of seeds.
  • Tray or plate: 1 per group
  • Ziplock bags
  • Permanent markers
  • Plant notebooks
  • Optional: Pictures of the fruit (or actual examples of the food) from which the seeds came from. (This might be nice to have if you decide to explain where the different seeds came from and if the students haven't heard of or seen a particular fruit before.)
The worksheets for this particular lesson are on pgs.6-8 in the file Plant Notebook Worksheets
Science Background

What is a seed?
A seed is a plant structure that protects and nourishes a plant embryo so that it can grow into a new plant. Seeds come in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes because they come from different plants, such as grasses, flowers, deciduous trees, evergreens, shrubs, vegetables, and vines. Many seeds are also edible, such as sunflower seeds, tomato seeds, corn, and peas.

Where are seeds found?
Seeds form inside a plant's cone or fruit. A cone is the part of the plant that covers and protects seeds in non-flowering plants called gymnosperms (such as pines trees and evergreens). The scientific name of a fruit is the part of the plant that covers and protects the seeds of flowering plants called angiosperms. Therefore, all fruits (e.g. like ones that we eat) and some vegetables cover and protect seeds and are therefore scientifically called fruits. There are many different kinds of flowering plants, such as grasses, flowers, trees, cactus, herbs, shrubs, vines.

The fruits of flowering plants come in many different varieties. First, seeds can be found in both dry and moist fruits. Examples of moist, fleshy fruits include peaches, pumpkins, apples, and blueberries, and examples of dry types include acorns, beans, wheat, corn, oats, rye, and rice. Fruits can also be divided into thick and thin. For example, most edible fruits are thick, containing seeds somewhere deep inside the fruit. However, most nuts and grains contain thin fruits that sometimes appear almost indistinguishable from the seed that it covers. Finally, fruits are divided into two groups, based on if they are fused to or separate from the seed(s). For example, apples have seeds that are separate from the fruit, yet corn and rice are fruits that are fused to a seed.

To see a picture of different fruits and cones that contain seeds (Source: "Seeds," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 2004)

Even though all fruits (i.e. like the ones we eat) contain seeds, not all vegetables contain seeds. Examples of vegetables that are seed containers and are therefore officially called fruits include tomatoes, squash, peppers, and eggplants. Vegetables that do not contain seeds serve as other parts of the plant such as the roots (carrots), stems (celery), and leaves (lettuce).

Students' Alternative Ideas

Typical Plants

Alternative idea: Students, especially young ones, usually can only think of a few typical plants that are classified as plants.

Scientific idea: There are over 270,000 kinds of plants. Grasses, flowers, vines, vegetables, trees, bushes and shrubs, houseplants, herbs and spices, fruits and nuts, cactus, and bulbs are all examples of the many kinds of plants.

Dealing with the alternative idea: As you teach, make sure to use these and other varied plants as examples. Don't always ask students to think of a flower or other 'typical' plant.

Grouping Seeds

1. Break the class into small groups. Show students the seeds that were extracted in the lesson on Finding Seeds as well as other seeds that did not need to be extracted from fruits or vegetables (like nuts, beans, rice, corn, and seeds from packets).

2. Give each group a tray or plate with a variety of seeds on it. Give students a few minutes to examine the collection of seeds and then ask for volunteers to tell the class a difference they saw between the seeds from different fruits or vegetables.

3. Tell students that by seeing what is the same and what is different about things, we can divide those things into groups. Classifying is an important inquiry ability for young children. Encourage children to think of ways to group and classify objects they come into contact with every day. This can become a way to teach science process skills in an ongoing basis.

4. Have a student give one suggestion of how he or she could group the seeds.

5. Have students work in groups to find as many different seed groupings as possible.

6. Circulate around the room while children are working, asking questions about the different groups. Seeds may be sorted by:
  • Size
  • Shape
  • Color
  • Edibility
  • Texture
  • Hardness
  • Stickiness
  • Seed location
As students observe their seeds, they will find different ways to group them. For example, some students will notice that some seeds are big and others are small. Other students will notice that some seeds are smooth and others are rough. Their observations will help them make decisions about HOW to group their seeds and will allow them to explain WHY they grouped their seeds the way they did.

7. Pass out ziplock bags to each group so that students can place their sorted seeds into different bags. Have groups put their names on each bag and label each bag based on the criteria they chose to sort their seeds by. For example, three bags might be labeled: small seeds, medium seeds, big seeds.

8. Optional: Title a bulletin board: How I Grouped My Seeds. Then, staple the bags onto the bulletin board so everyone can see how other teams grouped their seeds.

9. Have students record in their plant notebooks:
  • A picture of their seed groupings
  • An explanation for why they grouped their seeds the way they did
Scientific explanations include both a CLAIM and EVIDENCE. First, students can make a CLAIM by stating how they would group their seeds. For example, one student might say, "These seeds should be placed in this group and the rest of the seeds should be placed in another group." Students can then support their claim with EVIDENCE by using their seed observations to explain WHY they grouped their seeds a particular way. For example, one student might explain, "I put these seeds in this group BECAUSE they are all black, and I put these seeds in the other group BECAUSE they are all brown." Using evidence is important because most students will observe different things about their seeds, which will lead them to form different seed groupings from their peers. Therefore, help students not only to group their seeds (CLAIM) but to also explain why they grouped their seeds the way they did (EVIDENCE).

(See the Worksheets section to download this lesson's worksheets.)

10. Optional: Have groups volunteer to share with the class the groupings they made. Make sure students also explain why they chose their particular grouping.

11. Ask students if anyone knows why seeds might look different. (For example, different seeds come from different fruits and vegetables, and different fruits and vegetables come from different kinds of plants.)

12. Begin a brief discussion on different types of plants and the different types of seeds they come from.
  1. As the teacher circulates around the room, students will be assessed on their participation in the small group discussions.
  2. Students' understanding of grouping, similarities, and differences will be assessed by the groupings they made and their journal entries.
  3. Students' ability to make explanations using evidence will be assessed by having students answer questions about seeds in their plant notebooks. (See the Worksheets section to download this lesson's worksheets.)
Here are the questions found on the worksheet:
Show the students two different seeds and have them draw the seeds in their plant notebooks (using careful detail) before answering the questions about these seeds.
  • Do you think these seeds came from one or two different plants?
  • Why do you think the seeds came from the same plant or two different plants?
Next the student will answer the following questions about the two seeds that they drew and about a picture of a seed grouping (that is found in the assessment worksheet).
  • Look at the groups of seeds. Then decide where the seeds that you drew should be put. Choose the answer below that describes where you would put the seeds.
    • The two seeds should be put in Group 1.
    • The two seeds should be put in Group 2.
    • One seed should be put in Group 1 and the other seed in Group 2.
  • Draw your seeds in the groups you think they belong in.
(Possible Answer: Students might make the CLAIM that both seeds should be placed in the first group.)
  • Why did you group the seeds the way you did?
(Possible Answer: Students might suggest that their two seeds should be placed in the first group BECAUSE they are both small. Thus, this question prompts students to use their observations as EVIDENCE to support the above claim.)
Images of Inquiry
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This lesson focuses on Explanations & Evidence. (more)

How Catie taught this lesson
Organizing a unit is key for a teacher, but we sometimes forget that children need to learn and apply organizational skills as well. I wanted to focus on encouraging the children to organize the activity that they were doing. In this lesson, I gave the children a handful of different seeds and asked them to group them in various ways. The problem I faced last year when I taught this lesson was pushing the students beyond the basic groupings of color and size. The simplicity of these groupings caused the second graders to finish quickly without putting much thought into what they were doing. I wanted the students to extend themselves into being creative with their groupings.

This year, I began by telling the students that they had to group their seeds in 3 different ways. I wanted to tier them, in that, I wanted the students to go from an easy grouping to a more challenging grouping and finally to the most complex grouping. I listed the eight suggested groupings from the lesson plan on the board and said that these were some examples they could use. Following this statement, I circled the word 'size' and 'color' in red and told them they could choose one of these ways to group their seeds first. I then circled the rest in green and said that they could choose one of these ways to group their seeds second. Lastly, I circled an empty space on the board and said, 'This is your creativity box. In your groups I want you to think of a new and different way to group your seeds. When everyone is done, we will share our ideas and put them in the blue box.' Overall, this lesson can be used to teach the essential skill of classifying. We need to teach our children how to use and perfect this skill.

Author(s): CASES Team

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