Lessons to Grow By
Sunflowers growing in a garden with the sun shining

Plant Needs

In this series of Lessons to Grow By, we are exploring plant needs. For healthy growth and development, plants must obtain just the right amounts of light, water, air, and nutrients and they also need space to grow. These five requirements are the basic needs for all plant life. Fortunately for our world full of diverse environments, different plants need different amounts of each of these essentials so there are plants well adapted to grow in almost all environmental conditions. Through these activities, kids will investigate plant needs to better understand how to be take care of their green friends while also gaining a deeper appreciation for how the living and nonliving elements in an ecosystem work together.

The lesson sets below are written for grades 3-5, but are easily adapted up or down. We also have this related lesson for early childhood, appropriate for younger learners: Early Childhood Plant Needs Activity

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In 2021, thanks to the contributions of three generous donors, KidsGardening will be able to offer this program in Spanish. Please check back soon for access to these translated lessons.

Looking for other Lessons to Grow By materials? Pollinator content and Plant Parts content is also available. 


Week 5: Space to Grow

Learning Objectives:
This week focuses on the plant need of space to grow. Kids will:

  • Learn that in addition to the needs of light, air, water, and nutrients, plants must also have adequate space to grow and thrive.
  • Investigate how the space available to a plant impacts its growth.
  • Explore how plants can adapt to growing in different kinds of spaces as long as their other needs are met.

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Week 4: Nutrients

Learning Objectives:
This week focuses on the plant need of nutrients. Kids will:

  • Learn what nutrients are and how plants obtain the nutrients they need to grow.
  • Investigate how nutrient availability influences plant health and growth.
  • Explore decomposition and the nutrient cycle.

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Week 3: Air

Learning Objectives:
This week focuses on the plant need of air. Kids will:

  • Learn that people and plants work together to keep the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our air relatively consistent.
  • Explore how plants need air for their leaves and stems above ground and for their roots below ground.
  • Discover that plants are an important part of the Earth’s carbon cycle.

Download Week 3 Materials

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Week 2: Water

Learning Objectives:
This week focuses on the plant need of water. Kids will:

  • Learn about the water cycle and the role plants play in this important natural process.
  • Investigate how much water plants need and what happens if they get too little or too much water.
  • Compare the benefits and challenges of different kinds of watering methods.

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Week 1: Light

Learning Objectives:
This week focuses on the plant need of light. Kids will:

  • Learn about light and the different sources of light for plants.
  • Investigate how the amount of light available to plants impacts their growth and health.
  • Explore how plants are adapted to need different amounts of light.

Download Week 1 Materials

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Grades of children using Lessons to Grow By