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Homeschooling The Well Prepared Child: Parts Of A Plant- The Stem

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Parts Of A Plant- The Stem

This post contains Affiliate Links.

    If you are going to garden, you need to know about the parts of a plant and their functions. This lesson is on the function of plant stems. 

Celery Stalk Experiment

What you will need:

  • 1 stalk of celery, cut diagonally at the bottom
  • 1 Tall cup filled half full of water
  • Food coloring of your choice (I asked her to choose what color she thought would show up the best against the green of the plant. She chose red)
  • Peanut Butter (for a snack later, this is optional :) )

Step 1: Choose your piece of celery for your experiment. Cut diagonally along the bottom. Please supervise your child closely if they are cutting it themselves. 

Step 2: Add enough food coloring into your cup to turn the water a nice dark color. Put the stalk inside the cup, cut side down and the leaf side up.

Step 3:   Allow your celery to sit a while to give the stalk time to soak in and pull the colored water through it's veins. We let ours sit for 2 days to get the maximum absorption. Can you see the red veins in the celery?  
Step 5: Allow your child to dissect their celery stalks and make their own inferences. It is not so appetizing at this point. She really enjoyed taking it apart though, and she was able to see what parts were the veins and how they traveled. 
Step 5: Have a snack! My daughter decided she did not like celery and peanut butter. She got out the ranch dressing and ate hers with it. I, on the other hand, almost took down half a jar of peanut butter with my celery! OOOPS! (If you or someone you are doing this lesson with are allergic to peanut butter, try some cream cheese on it! Do not eat peanut butter if you have a peanut allergy.)
     Now I suppose you are wondering how to make this lesson less preschool/lower grade and more of a higher level of thinking lesson. It's easy! The 'veins' in the celery actually have really cool names and their own functions. Xylem and phloem are the vascular tissues found in celery and other plants that work just like veins do in our bodies. Also in the function of transporting water and nutrients throughout the plant are more scientific terms like: Translocation, Adhesion, Cohesion, Transpiration and Stomata. Now the best way I have found to get children to really understand these terms and functions is to have them look them up themselves. 

Other brainstorming activities: 
  • Find other plants you can do this same experiment on like roses and carnations. If you use a white flower, you can change the colors of the petals. 
  • Start a 'Scrap Garden' from the end of your celery plant. 
    • Draw the end of the celery and label the parts of the stem. 
    • If your child does not have one already, start a spiral notebook to be their "Scientific Discoveries" journal. We use ours a lot to journal the progress of our plants and science experiments. It is also a place for her to reflect upon the activities we have done. 

    • We also have portfolios that we put our loose papers and work sheets in. She also puts in any good info she finds and prints from the web. My daughter makes her own graphs and charts on MS Excel to go with our lessons. Those graphs go in here after she fills them out during our experiments. Want to know more about using portfolios and notebooks? Click HERE.

    • Go to the library and check out books about gardening with kids and parts of a plant. 
    • Youtube has a lot of great videos on the subject as well. 

    Check out our other 'Parts of a Plant' lessons in this series! 
    Parts Of A Plant: Seeds
    Parts Of A Plant: Tendrils

    (And if I can figure out how to get the worksheets we created to change formats for the different computer, we will post those too! :)

    In the meantime, here are some websites that have great information on this topic! (These are NOT affiliate links)

    Disclosure: I am Amazon Affiliate and may receive a small compensation for including links on my blog. Buying through my links is not necessary, just appreciated. Amazon does not charge extra for linked items recommended by their affiliates.  I only recommend products that I use and trust OR plan on using in the future. Please buy responsibly and do your own product research before buying anything online.