In this lesson, students will gain an understanding of the six plant parts and their individual functions. The class will then identify, harvest, and eat the six plant parts as garden tacos!

Lesson overview

Grades 3-6
Time 1 hour
Standards NGSS 3-LS3-2 
NGSS 3-LS4-3 
NGSS 4-LS1-1 


Connecting CCCs and SEPs

  • What are the 6 plant parts that give the plants their structure ?(Structure and function: Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information)
  • What are the functions of each plant part? (Structure and function: Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information)
  • Do plant parts come in different sizes or amounts? Why do you think some plants have more roots than other plants? (Scale, Proportion & Quantity; Engaging in Argument from Evidence).


Plant Parts - Plants have external parts that help them to grow, survive, and reproduce.

Plant Life Cycle - The series of stages all plants undergo from a seed to a mature plant.

Adaptations - A special skill that allows animals and plants to change and survive in their environment.

Structure - Something that was built or grown in a specific way.

Function - What someone or something is used for - its job.

Roots - The part of the plant that grows underground and holds the plant upright and absorbs water and food from the soil.

Stem - The main part of the plant that grows straight up and supports the branches, leaves, and flowers that grow from it.

Leaves - The flat, green part of the plant that grows off of the stem. Its main function is to make food for the plant.

Flower - The part of the plant that blooms and attracts pollinators.

Fruit - The part of a flowering plant that contains the seed.

Seeds - The part of a plant that grows into a new plant.


  • Anything you can find in the garden that represents one of the 6 plant parts! Lettuce (leaves), celery (stems), tomatoes, cucumbers (fruit) Sunflower seeds and/or cooked rice or quinoa(seeds), calendula or other edible flowers (flowers), carrots, radishes, or beets (roots).
  • Other garden fresh goodies (mint and other herbs, edible flowers, anything tasty to add to the tacos).
  • Sauce or guacamole
  • Pre-cooked rice (optional)
  • Gloves + hand sanitizer


  • If you don’t have tables in your garden, check them out from the custodian at your school site to set up in the garden, or plan to do a portion of the lesson in the classroom.
  • Buy any vegetables needed that you don’t have in abundance in the garden. Consider asking your food services staff, they may have extra!
  • Sanitize all the table surfaces and the cooking gear.
  • Take a walk through the school garden to know what is available for harvesting from each of the plant part groups!
  • Set up a cooking station for part three of the lesson. Wash cooking surfaces well with soap and warm water, rinse, and dry.


Engage: Begin with a classroom discussion in the seating area in your garden or classroom. Write the following questions on the board, record answers, and discuss with the class:

What are some of your favorite fruits and vegetables that you eat? What are some other foods you like to eat? As you call on students, write down or draw the things they say. Did you know that common components of our diets include roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds? Take a look at the board. Does anyone see a fruit? How about a leaf or root? What about a flower? (broccoli, artichokes, and cauliflower). A fruit? (Tomato, bell pepper, etc). These are the 6 plant parts, and we can eat things from every category.

Explore: Go to the garden and have students observe the different plant parts they can find there. Harvest anything edible you might want to add to the tacos. To make this organized you can have separate bowls for the different plants that are in season at different times.

Explain: What do each of the parts of the plants do?

  • Flowers attract pollinators which help the plant make seeds. Seeds: Are like the babies the plant has.
  • Stems help hold the plant up above the ground so it doesn’t rot and get it closer to the sun so it can get energy.
  • Leaves help the plant get energy from the sun.
  • Roots help the plant get water and nutrients from the soil, and help it stand up tall.

Action: Taco Making!

You can either divide and conquer or lead the cooking demonstration and have students contribute with their words and ideas.

  1. Review your Garden Agreements
  2. Divide students into groups to work on different parts of the plant taco. Group 1: rinse lettuce. Group 2: cut up the fruits. Group 3: cut up celery Group 4: grate the carrot or other root vegetable. Group 5: Separate petals from flowers and/or tear up fresh herbs.
  3. Once all the ingredients are ready, put them into separate bowls. Have students form a single file line and one at a time have them come up to choose what they want in their tacos (it is important that you do the serving to ensure that it can be done in a hygienic way!)
  4. Incorporate some mindful eating concepts. Before students take a bite, ask them what their taco smells like, looks like and feels like!
  5. Remind students not to ‘Yuck my Yum’
  6. When students are done eating their tacos, have them help with cleanup.

Reflect: What was your favorite part of the taco? Who can name all 6 parts of a plant? What do the different parts do? Is it essential that a plant has all 6 parts? Why/why not? Is there any plant you can think of that doesn’t have flowers or fruit? Point out that all plants have something like this, but that sometimes might be hard to see.

Extension activities

  • Create-a-Plant: students create a diorama with an illustration and story about a self-invented plant, it’s habitat, and adaptations.
  • Grow a plant in a root box to be able to observe the roots!
  • Put a celery in colored water and see how water moves through the stems of plants.


Thank you One Cool Earth!

The lessons and resources for this topic have been adapted from the Earth Genius curriculum developed by One Cool Earth, a California 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to bringing garden education to students.