Kindergarten children are notorious for their inquisitiveness on topics of natural science. This curiosity encourages them to learn and explore using hands-on methods that excite and captivate young minds. Learning about the life cycle of a plant in kindergarten is not only age-appropriate knowledge, but a perfect opportunity to get involved in a fun and memorable science lesson.
Kindergarten children should learn the basics of plant life when studying the life cycle of a plant. Specifically, they should finish such a unit with the understanding that plants need certain conditions to survive, and be able to name sunlight, water and warmth as the essentials. They should also be able to describe orally or pictorially a simple plant life cycle, including seed, seedling, mature plant and reseeding.
Use books to supplement learning. There are several excellent books on the topic written for this age group. They include "The Tiny Seed" by Eric Carle, "From Seed to Plant" by Gail Gibbons and "A Seed Grows: My First Look at a Plant’s Life Cycle" by Pamela Hickman and Heather Collins.
Children can learn about both the needs of plants and see firsthand some of the phases in the life cycle of a plant by performing experiments. A common experiment focuses on what plants need to live. Place seeds in opposite environments and observe the results. Put seeds on wet paper towels, placing a few in a warm, sunny location and a few in the refrigerator. To experiment with the effect of light, place some seeds in a sunny location and others in a dark cabinet or cupboard. As the seeds put in the proper places sprout and grow, children also see different parts of the life cycle.
Nothing helps children learn like firsthand experience. Give each child a seed to plant in a cup. Place seeds on a windowsill, letting children care for their seeds and watch them grow. By now, children should understand the needs of their plants and know what to expect as they grow. Many teachers prefer quickly growing seeds, such as beans.
Kindergarten children possess widely varying levels of writing abilities. However, all students should be beginning to write by the end of their kindergarten year. This makes it a perfect time to introduce the idea of journals. Give each child a small notebook or papers stapled together in which to keep information on their seed. Encourage children to both write and draw in their journals at least once a week. These journals may also be used to describe other plant experiments and results.
It is during the study of the life cycle of a plant in kindergarten that most children are introduced to the different parts of a plant. As with the life cycle of plants, this is not an overly detailed lesson, but gives children the proper vocabulary to use when describing plants and their changes throughout the life cycle. Learning to identify and label the stem, leaves, roots, seed, branches and flowers should be expected.
Have children create small individual books or posters showing the different phases in the life cycle of a plant. Include one page each for planting the seed, the roots beginning to grow, the seedling poking above the ground, the plant growing larger and developing leaves, and the flower blooming. You may also want to include a page identifying parts of the plant and one more indicating the plant's needs.