Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Can You See It, Touch It, Hear It?

Summer Zephyr
Bay District Schools


Through this lab activity, students are helped with development of their observational skills. (This lesson may be used with students at any grade level.)


The student knows that objects can be described, classified, and compared by their composition (e.g., wood or metal) and their physical properties (e.g., color, size, and shape).

The student knows that people use scientific processes including hypotheses, making inferences, and recording and communicating data when exploring the natural world.


-One plant for whole group, or one plant for each group of students. Note: Get plants that are safe to the touch, not poison ivy you dig up out of the woods. If you purchase them at any store like Walmart, Home Depot, or Lowes you are assured of their safety.
-Plant Observation student worksheet (See Associated File)


1. Purchase (plant/plants) one for each group.
2. Duplicate worksheet for each student. (See Associated File)
3. List questions on the board. (See Procedures, steps #4-6)
4. Number questions and make them whole sentences.


1. Obtain the same kind of plant for each group of students, or if funds are low, one plant to be passed around to each student. (An activity center may be set up for the use of each student.)

2. In a whole-group situtation, ask students to explain why they think observation is important. List the responses on the board for all to see.

3. Tell students that the purpose of this activity is to further develop their observational skills. (Teacher may use an item, such as a textbook or apple, to model “observing” as she explains it.)

4. Ask students, What does “to observe” mean? List their answers on the board and write on the board “to observe means to carefully explore all of an object's properties.”

5. Ask, What does “properties” mean? Write the answers on the board. Explain that properties are color, shape, weight, volume, temperature, or sounds of an object.

6. Ask, Do all objects have the same properties? After several students have answered, explain that what makes something different from all other objects or substances is its properties. Through the use of our senses, we are able to perceive an object's characteristics and properties by seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, or smelling them. Observing involves identifying and describing an object's properties. smells? smells like?
Hearing sounds? sounds like? feels (texture, temperature, pressure)? feels like? looks like (color, size, shape, measurements)? looks like? tastes? tastes like?

(Tasting is a process skill; use your discretion. With younger students you might want to skip it. Higher grades have more “sense”...(I think?) in determining what to taste and what not to. This might be a good way of bringing in the safety issue in what you put in your mouth and not. You have to remember science investigation is under controlled circumstances, not haphazard testing of substances. Informed judgments are made before procedures are followed.)

7.(At this point if you are going to have students work in a group, divide them into a group situation.) Give each group a plant or show the entire group one plant and ask them to list at least ten observations about the plant. For each observation, each student records the sense they used to obtain the information. (See Plant Observation student worksheet in Associated File)

8. Students compare their observations with a classmate's answers.

9. Students self-check their answers with those prepared by the teacher.


Students self-check their lists with the following sample list of observations prepared by the teacher.
1.The color of the plant (sight)
2. Height of plant (tall, short, spindly) (sight)
3. One main stem or many (sight)
4. Shape of the leaves (sight)
5. Leaves have jagged or smooth edges (sight)
6. Leaves shiny or dull (sight or touch)
7. Leaves opposite one another or alternate (sight)
8. Veins in leaves distinct, central vein (sight)
9. Stem thick or thin (sight or touch)
10. Leaves in clusters or separate (sight)
11. Texture of stem and leaf surfaces (touch)
12. Leaves stiff or pliable (touch)
13. Odor of plant (smell)
14. Leaves rustle with you blow on them (sound)
If the students' lists are not similar to that above, then get another plant and have them go through the observations again.

The final lists prepared by the students are collected by the teacher to check them. The lists could be posted on the bulletin board for a week or so. Students could also self-check their lists in red adding in what they copy from the teacher's chart. Groups may be pulled back into whole group again to go reinforce the “process of observation” again with the students and their lists. This is quite an effective reinforcement and summary.

Note: This lesson is a formative lesson. It needs to be done again at which time you will make a final assessment.


Other objects that can be interesting to observe are flowers, fruits, a pine cone, different kinds of leaves, feathers, and dried foods such as cereals.

Attached Files

This file contains the Plant Observation student worksheet.     File Extension: pdf

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.