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Photosynthesis and Plant Parts Lesson for Middle School Biology


I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.

Middle School Biology Lesson on Photosynthesis & Plant Parts (Botany)

Middle School Biology Lesson on Photosynthesis & Plant Parts (Botany)

This is the 5th lesson in a series of 32 hands-on lessons covering middle school biology. This lesson covers plant parts and photosynthesis. I used this plan while teaching a 55 minute middle school biology class. Each lesson plan includes homework assignments and a variety of hands-on activities to make each lesson engaging & memorable. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, homeschool, after-school program, or co-op!

These lessons are written for a class that meets once a week. If your class meets 5 days a week, simply do this lesson one day a week and use the homework assignments (at the bottom of the page) for the work for the other days of the week.

Transpiration Activity: Placing a bag over leaves in the sun

Transpiration Activity: Placing a bag over leaves in the sun


1. Briefly talk about transpiration. Head outside and cover a leaf or leaves on a tree or other plant with a clear plastic sandwich bag and tightly close the bag using a clothespin, rubber band, or tape. Try to find leaves that are in the sun. If desired, place bags over leaves on 2 or 3 different trees or plants so that you can compare. If the tree or plant is indoors, move it to a sunny spot. Continue on with the lesson.


  • at least 1 tree or other plant (outdoors or indoors)
  • 1-3 clears plastic bags, such as sandwich bags
  • 1-3 clothespins, rubber bands, or tape
Bizarre Plant Mini-Reports

Bizarre Plant Mini-Reports

Pair 'n Share Bizarre Plant Mini-Reports & Homework Review

2. Have children partner up with someone. Each student should share with their partner about their bizarre plant, quickly sharing the information from their report. After about 4 minutes, have each student share: the name of their partner's plant & 1 interesting fact about that plant. Isn't God's creativity amazing? (I gave an extra prize ticket to students to went above & beyond on their mini-reports.)

3. Go over the homework questions from the book. (I give out tickets for students who volunteer to answer the questions.)

Monocot Families Notes

Monocot Families Notes

Lily/Liliaceae Family

4. Picking up from what we didn't finish last week, have the student/pair share what they found about the lily family. Write whatever they say and then verbally add to the information.

  • Traits: grows from a bulb (layers of thick, fleshy leaves surrounding a very short stem), annual (sprouts every year), bulbs store food during growing season so plant can live after the stem dies, & usually have large flowers with 6 petaloid tepals (undifferentiated petals and sepals), 6 stamens, & a superior ovary
  • Examples: tiger lily, lily of the valley, tulip, hyacinth, trillium, day lily
Scallions/Green Onions are part of the Amaryllis family.

Scallions/Green Onions are part of the Amaryllis family.

Amaryllis/Amaryllidaceae Family

5. Have the student/pair share what they found about the amaryllis family. Write whatever they say and then verbally add to the information.

  • Traits: leafless stalks, most grow from bulbs but some grow from corms or rhizomes (horizontal stem growing underground), & different from lilies because ovary is inferior (below flowering parts) rather than superior (above flowering parts)
  • Examples: daffodil, amaryllis, narcissus, wild onion, garlic, chive (high in Vitamin C) -- the last ones having strong odors
  • Optional: Cut open a green onion bulb and allow children to quickly inspect the layers. They can also taste it if they desire.

You will need:

  • Optional: green onions with bulbs, a knife, & magnifying glasses
Labeling parts of grass (former homework assignment)

Labeling parts of grass (former homework assignment)

Grass/Poaceae Family

6. Have the student/pair share what they found about the grass family. Write whatever they say and then verbally add to the information.

  • traits: flowers are spikelets, small, inconspicuous clusters growing along main stem in spikes or caremens
  • examples: variety of grasses, sugar cane, & bamboo (which can grow to be 125 feet tall)
  • Fertilized grass flowers are the grains we eat
  • Remind students about their homework when they mounted and labeled grass.
  • Covers 1/3 of the earth’s land
  • Feed the world: animals eat leaves & stems and we eat the grains
Sketching 16 main leaf shapes plus margins

Sketching 16 main leaf shapes plus margins

Leaf Shapes & Margins

7. Lead the students in sketching 16 basic leaf shapes and leaf margins. I drew on the board while the students drew on their paper. I followed the below video, though I folded the paper ahead of time to save time during class.

You will need per student:

sheet of blank paper folded into 16 squares & punched with 3 hole punch

How to draw 16 basic leaf shapes

Photosynthesis Relay Race

Photosynthesis Relay Race


8. Briefly discuss photosynthesis.

  • If you're not limited by time, play the Photosynthesis Relay Race found at www.ellenjmchenry.com to review the formula for photosynthesis. Teams will race each other to complete the process of photosynthesis. They will place cards with water and carbon dioxide into the "in" envelope on a leaf and shine a flashlight on it and then will remove cards for oxygen, glucose, and water from the "out" envelope on the leaf.
  • If you are limited by time (which we are), have 1 student volunteer to show the full process while standing in front of the class as you talk through what she/he should do.

You will need:

  • at least 1 piece of green construction paper each cut into the shape of a leaf with 2 small envelopes glued to it
  • at least 1 flashlight
  • free pattern pieces found at www.ellenjmchenry.com
Comparing tap & fibrous roots

Comparing tap & fibrous roots


9. Allow groups of students to observe tap roots & fibrous roots using magnifying glasses. As they observe the root systems, briefly mention:

  • Most dicots have taproots & monocots have fibrous roots.
  • Why are roots important? (Allow students to answer) Root system anchors the plant in the soil, absorbs water & minerals for plant growth, & stores food
  • Some plants like strawberries reproduce not by flowers but by vegetative reproduction. Their roots spread out to form new plants.
  • Root cap (dead cells) protects new cells as they push through soil to lengthen root
  • Roots can lift houses. They upset sidewalks. If you’ve been on an uneven sidewalk with cracks, roots are probably to blame.
  • Roots can grow long to get to water. A fig tree in South Africa grew 393 feet!
  • Some roots grow above the ground like the ones for a banyan tree.
  • The root hairs absorb nutrients & water through osmosis = continual movement of water from solution of higher water content through semipermeable membrane into solution of lower water content.
  • *Demonstrate osmosis by placing a piece of paper towel next to a small puddle of water.

You will need:

  • examples of tap roots & fibrous roots
  • magnifying glasses
  • small amount of water
  • a few small pieces of paper towel
Celery that was dyed to show how its vascular system works

Celery that was dyed to show how its vascular system works

Vascular System

10. Pass around pieces of celery that were placed in water dyed with food coloring. Allow students to look at their & break the stems to see the dye in the veins as well. If desired, they can eat the celery after inspecting it. While they inspect it, ask:

  • Which part carries sugar from leaves to stem & roots to be stored? (Phloem)
  • Which part carries water & nutrients from root hairs to leaves where water is used in photosynthesis or released through stomata? (Xylem)

You will need:

  • a few stalks of celery with leaves that have been dyed using food coloring - Blue worked the best for us. I did mine overnight. If you'd like to start the celery at the beginning of the class, you'll be able to see it some if you use the smaller, inner stalks of celery
Water in the sandwich bag came from transpiration

Water in the sandwich bag came from transpiration


11. Check on the bags that are over the leaves that you started at the beginning of class. Hopefully you'll be able to see some water in them. Where did it come from? The leaves! What part of the leave did the water come from? (stomata)

12. How does transpiration work? How do plants suck up the water?

  • Quickly demonstrate transpiration by having a few volunteers hold hands. They each represent a water molecule.
  • As a water molecule flies up into the sky out of the stomata, another water molecule must replace it. It pulls another one from down in the root system. This continues on.

Importance of Plants

13. How are plants important to us? (Allow students to share)

  • We eat them for food or eat animals that eat them for food.
  • They're an important source of Vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, & K
  • Most of the water in our clouds is pulled from the ground through a plant & then evaporated into the sky.
  • They recycle our carbon dioxide & provide oxygen for us & for animals.
A Beka's Science: Order & Design

A Beka's Science: Order & Design


Page numbers refer to the pages in A Beka's Science: Order & Design.

  • Friday: Read pp. 65-66 on body systems & answer 3 questions of your choice on p. 66.
  • Monday: 1) Read pp. 67-69 on the circulatory system. Complete Tackle This on p. 70 by listing the names for #1-9. Use the diagram on p. 69. 2) Color The Heart worksheet blue & red.
  • Tuesday: 1) Read pp. 70-71 on the respiratory system. Complete Tackle This on p. 71. 2) Read questions #5-8 on p. 79. Answer 2 of those questions. 3) Read pp. 73-74. Read questions #9-12 on p. 79. Answer 2 of those questions AND the Thought Provoker.
  • Wednesday: Read pp. 74-77 (skipping Check it Out) on the digestive and urinary systems. Answer questions #13-16 on p. 79.
  • Extra credit: Get an extra ticket for coloring each of the following pages (1 colored page = 1 ticket). Click on the picture to have it come up in a printable format: https://iheartguts.com/blogs/free-downloads/heart-circulatory-system-coloring-page , https://iheartguts.com/blogs/free-downloads/115615493-respiratory-system-coloring-page , & https://iheartguts.com/blogs/free-downloads/54625989-digestive-system-coloring-page .
One of the homework worksheets and 3 extra credit pages

One of the homework worksheets and 3 extra credit pages

© 2018 Shannon

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