NC State Extension

Third Grade Lesson Plans

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Students will learn the meaning of germination, know what environmental factors affect germination (water), and understand one stage of a plant’s life cycle. Curriculum Areas: Science, Social Studies

 Science: Students will know that plants go through cycles from seed to mature  plant and back to seed again.

 Math: Students will be able to estimate the number of seeds, and add and subtract numbers up to 1,000.

Interactive activity in which students will observe and measure their own leaf, while developing important skills. [BY JENNIFER]

Curriculum Areas: Math, Science

Examining the diversity of pollinators in the garden and their role in the ecosystem provides an excellent opportunity for students to learn about the mechanisms of adaptation. [BY LIFE LAB]

Curriculum Areas: Science

Examining the jobs of the different plant parts – roots, stem, leaves, flowers, fruit and seeds helps students to understand that all plants need the same fundamental resources of sun soil, water, and air. [BY LIFELAB]

 Curriculum Areas: Science

Soil Solutions Teacher Training Manual Cover ImageSoils Solutions is aligned to meet the North Carolina’s third grade science standard course of study in plant and soils, the curriculum draws from current research and knowledge in crops, horticulture and soil sciences. This training is designed to help students make the the connection between soil and where their food comes from. [Originally written by Michelle Wallace]

View demonstrations of the experiments from Lessons 1-8 in the Soil Solutions teacher materials [Durham Extension Master Gardeners]

Curriculum Areas: Science
  • Soil Properties
    A great lesson on the various properties of soil including water holding capacity.
    ( New York State Dept. of Environment)

    Soil Studies: Soil Particle Sizes

    Objective: Students will learn soil size classifications (clay, silt, sand) and their effects on soil composition.

    Grade level: Elementary – Intermediate

    Time: First Activity – 30-45 minutes Second Activity – 30-40 minutes

    Season: Fall and spring

    Materials: For each student – 1 jar and a card or a piece of heavy paper For each group – 2 small tin cans (8-12 oz.) with one end open and the other end with many small holes in it Marbles Sand

    Soil particles vary greatly in size, and soil scientists classify soil particles into sand, silt, and clay. Starting with the finest, clay particles are smaller than 0.002 mm in diameter. Some clay particles are so small that ordinary microscopes do not show them. Silt particles are from 0.002 to 0.05 mm in diameter. Sand ranges from 0.05 to 2.0 mm. Particles larger than 2.0 mm are called gravel or stones. Most soils contain a mixture of sand, silt and clay in different proportions.

    The size of soil particles is important. The amount of open space between the particles influences how easily water moves through a soil and how much water the soil will hold. Too much clay, in proportion to silt and sand, causes a soil to take in water very slowly. Such a soil gives up its water to plants slowly. These soils are sticky when wet.

    Loam and silt loam refer to soils that have a favorable proportion of sand, silt, and clay. A silt loam, for example, contains no more than 50% sand or more than 27% clay. The rest is silt.

    First Activity Description

    Have students collect some soil from their yards or from the school yard and fill a good sized jar about 1/2 to 2/3 full with it. When they get back to school fill the rest of the jar with water, replace the cover (tightly) and shake it vigorously.

    Put the jars on a table and have the students label theirs. Allow the jars to stand for a few days until all the particles settle out. Then hold a card or heavy piece of paper against the side of the jar and draw a diagram showing the different layers. Label each layer (clay, silt, sand). What percentages of each layer did you find? Which soils do you think would be better for plant growth? How do the Adirondack soils in your jar compare with the soils in the picture? Why is there a difference?

    Size of soil particles is important for other reasons, too. It affects the ease of working the soil, what crops can be grown, and the efficiency of certain fertilizers.

    Sandy soils that have no fine clay or silt particles filling the pore space cannot hold as much moisture since there is no surface area for the water to cling to and the pores are so large that the weight of the water causes much of it to run down and out of the soil. For this reason, medium and coarse sandy soils, low in clay are known as droughty soils. Crops cannot live long in them without very frequent rains.

    When fine soil particles fill the large pore spaces, the soil can hold more water for plants because there is more surface area for water to cling to. And since the size of the pores is reduced, the weight of the water is less and it does not run out of the soil so readily.

    Second Activity Description

    Have the students work in groups for this. Fill two cans with marbles and add sand to one can, filling up the spaces between the marbles (tap the can gently on the table while doing this to be sure all the pore spaces are filled). Now add a specific amount of water (50ml, 100ml, etc.) to each can and let it percolate through the soil. Collect and measure the remaining water to compare it with the original amount. Also, time them from when the first drop comes out of the bottom of the can till the last comes out. Which soil held more water in it? Which took more time to empty out? Which do you think would be better for plant growth?

    Curriculum areas: Science
  • Story and Reference Books about Soil and the Earth for 3rd grade
  • Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other

Groups of students use multiple senses to find and classify contrasting objects in the natural environment. [BY LIFELAB]

Curriculum Areas: Science

Students will learn how plants make their food using photosynthesis in this hands on lesson. [BY THE YOUNG VIRGINIA GARDENER]

Curriculum Areas: Science

 In this lesson students learn about the different organic and inorganic elements which make up our soil. [BY THE VIRGINIA YOUNG GARDENER]

Curriculum Areas: Science

A worksheet in which students label the parts of a plant. [BY KIDS GARDENING]

Curriculum Areas: Science

Students start their own seed collection and observe types of seeds as well as differences between them in this hands on activity. [BY THE YOUNG VIRGINIA GARDENER]

Curriculum Areas: Science, Visual Arts

Students will demonstrate fractional parts of a whole by consecutively dividing an area by increments of one-half. After the divisions are made, the whole can be seen as the sum of its parts.

 Curriculum Areas: Math

Students will be able to explain the function of leaves and identify nutrients in edible leaves in the garden.   Curriculum Areas: Science

This lesson uses a song to learn about decomposition and food production. Curriculum Areas: Science, music, Language arts.

  George Washington Carver: Food Scientist

Students will learn about a famous historical figure. Students will use text clues to put information in sequential order. Students will practice observation. Students will work together in groups. Curriculum Areas: Social Studies, Science, Language arts

Curriculum Areas: Math, Science

Curriculum Areas: Math, Science

Curriculum Areas: Math, Science

Written By

Photo of Cynthia NielsenCynthia NielsenSchool Curriculum Coordinator, Horticulture (336) 641-2400 (Office) cynthia_nielsen@ncsu.eduGuilford County, North Carolina
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