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Lesson overview

Grades K-4
Time 20 minutes
Resources Riddle, Discussion, Activity
Standards NGSS K-LS1-1  What do plants need to survive?
NGSS 2-PS1-1  How do plants disperse their seeds?
NGSS 4-LS1-1  How does each part of the plant support survival, growth and reproduction?


  • Seed Riddle, written or printed
  • Backpack, full of crumbled paper so it looks full but is light enough for a student to wear
  • Snack placed inside of backpack (use seeds like sunflower or pumpkin to keep it themed)
  • Water bottle with straw inside of backpack
  • Coat / rain jacket
  • Hat (best if green)
  • Tape and labels for seed parts


This lesson can easily take place inside or outside without altering activities.

  • Gather costume materials.
  • Familiarize yourself with basic seed anatomy and drawing the structures (refer to diagram example below).


Greet your class with a riddle to get them thinking about what the day’s lesson will be.

Seed Riddle by Laurel Anderson

I appear dead before I am alive

Although often quite small, inside my skin a tree can live

I can survive hundreds of years without food or water

I can be as small as dust or as large as a football

Humans and animals eat me

I can fly, swim and hitch a ride

I can survive freezing, fires and intense droughts

What am I?

Answer: a seed!


Some seeds are very nutritious. They are rich in protein, minerals, fats, and vitamins. Why are they so nutritious?

Life comes from seeds. The seed provides food for the embryonic plant. What are some examples of seeds we eat? What types of seeds did you eat for breakfast or lunch today? (Remember, grains, beans, and nuts are seeds!)

Is there anything we eat that doesn’t come from a seed? What about animals? (All animals, whether omnivores or herbivores, rely on plants that come from seed somewhere along the food chain).

Could we survive without seeds? Today we are going to learn about how such a small thing has the potential to grow into large healthy, thriving vegetables for our garden.


1) As you proceed with this skit, write vocabulary words as they come up in a word bank on the board to help students remember and apply them later in the lesson.

Important vocabulary

Seed coat, Germination, Cotyledon, Endosperm, Roots, New leaves, Photosynthesis, Embryo

2) Dress up one student as a hiker, with a coat and backpack. Ask the student how you protect yourself from the wind, rain and cold. (A coat.) Explain that a seed also has a coat and when conditions are right for growth, the seed will germinate. What causes a seed to germinate? (Cause and Effect; Asking Questions and Defining Problems) (Water!) The seed will absorb water and split the seed coat. Put the label “Seed Coat” on the coat and have the student remove the coat and hang it up with the label showing.

3) Ask the student what a hiker would need on a long hike. (Lunch.) Have the student open the backpack and find the snack. Explain that seeds also store food and they store it in a cotyledon. The cotyledons are inside of the seed and are the first leaves to appear when the seeds sprout. It is also known as an endosperm. These provides the initial energy for the plant to germinate and grow. The word cotyledon is from the Greek kotyle, meaning “hollow object,” alluding to the spoon or bowl shape of the leaves. Attach the “Cotyledon” label to the backpack.

4) What else does a hiker need? (Water.) Have the student remove the water bottle from the backpack. How do plants get water? (Roots.) Attach “Roots” to the straw of the water bottle.

5) What else might the hiker need on a hot day? (A hat.) Attach the “New Leaves” label to the hat. Have the student remove the hat from the backpack and compare the hat to the first green leaves a seedling puts out to absorb sunlight. Plants can make food from sunlight, which humans cannot do. This process is called photosynthesis. When the true leaves emerge, the cotyledons fall off. Why are the cotyledons a necessary structure for a germinated seed to have before the true leaves emerge? Can the cotyledons photosynthesize? (The plant cannot photosynthesize to provide food for itself until the true leaves emerge, so the cotyledons feed the plant in the meantime!) (Structure and Function; Construct Explanations and Design Solutions) Have the student remove the backpack.

6) Explain that the leaves and roots grew from the embryo inside the seed. Put the sign “Embryo” on the student.

Comprehension check

Review the various parts of the seeds using the props and vocabulary on the board.

Ask students to raise their hands to share

What did we learn about the relationship between seed structure and function for growing into a plant? How does the seed coat function? The cotyledons? The true leaves? etc. (The seed coat keeps the seed insulated, the cotyledons provide the initial energy for germination, etc.) (Structure and Function; Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information)

Refer back to the Learning Objectives for your grade level and ensure that they have been met by asking the given learning objective question.

What’s next?