Sunday, May 19, 2013

Photosynthesis Activity

I am currently teaching a unit on plants and wanted to share with you an activity that I do with my students to help them better understand photosynthesis.  This is a skit called "Plant's Recipe" and I got it years ago from one of my former teachers (who got it from the book, The Growing Classroom, by Roberta Jaffee and Gary Appel). 

Here's the narrative:
It was another beautiful day.  The sun was shining brightly in the sky.  It shined its light all over, and it was shining brightly on the garden at our school.  Now, out in the garden in its soft dirt home sat plant.  The plant knew it was a beautiful day and wanted to take advantage of it.  It was going to be a great day for food making.  First the plant would gather all the ingredients, and then it would cook them up into food that would make it grow.  The food it will make is a sugar called glucose.

First, the plant stretched toward the sky and opened its leaves wide to take in as much sunlight as possible.  It would need lots of light to make food.  Then it took some very deep breaths.  It was looking around for just the right parts of the air.  Ah, yes, the carbon dioxide (CO2) floating in the air was just perfect.  CO2 would give the plant a very important part of the recipe.  The plant brought them into its leaves.  Now it needed one more ingredient.  For this it wiggled its roots around looking for water.  Ah, the soil was nice and damp.  It was easy to bring some water from the roots all the way up to the leaves where the CO2 and sunlight waited.

Now it was time to start making food (glucose).  The plant mixed the light and the CO2 and the water all together.  It was a beautiful day and it wouldn't take long to make lots of food!  Presto!  Pretty soon, it made enough food to add another leaf to its body.  The cooking is now over, and it's time for the plant to clean up.  The plant used up everything pretty well, but part of the CO2 is left over.  Oh, the plant didn't need the oxygen that was in the carbon dioxide.  So it can just send the O2 into the air again.  The plant watches it fly away.

This is similar to Reader's Theater; I have one narrator and I don't really use props...just construction paper "necklaces" that show the students' roles: 
My students really enjoyed this activity and it helped prepare them for their writing prompt: Write a narrative about the process of photosynthesis from the point of view of a plant. 


  1. I am new to teaching 5th grade. Thanks for this great activity. I think it will help my students understand photosynthesis.

  2. Great story! I'll use it , simplified, with my little ones!

  3. I just did this skit with my 5th grade students. They thought it was fun and they learned a lot about photosynthesis! Thank you!