Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Down to the Root of the Plant



Through discussion and activity about roots of plants, students will identify types of roots and their purposes and will observe and document root growth.


The student knows the main parts of plants (stems, leaves, roots, flowers).


-Dandelion with roots
-Turnip or carrot with tops
-Turnip or carrot seeds
-Flower seeds
-Clear 2 liter bottles
-Ruler or tape measure


1. Collect 2 liter bottles
2. Pull dandelion from the ground.
3. Collect carrots or turnips with tops.
4. Get potting soil.
5. Collect seeds. (Carrots, turnips, radishes, flowers)
6. Prepare roots for eating. (wash and cutt)
7. Cut tops off of 2 liter bottles.


1. Tell students today we are going to begin talking about plants. Have students give examples of different plants. Discuss the parts of plants.
2. Ask students to tell the different parts of plants. (roots, stems, leaves, flowers)
3. Tell students we will first talk about roots. Have students describe what roots look like.
4. Show students the dandelion and the turnip, point out the roots and how they look different ( a large root and many small roots).
5. Identify the difference between fibrous roots (the small roots) and the tap roots (the large root).
6. What do roots do? Discuss the 2 main functions of a fibrous root.
A. Hold on to the soil. Keeps plant from falling or blowing away.
B. Takes water from the soil.
7. Discuss that the main function of the taproot is to store food. Make students aware that when they eat carrots or turnips and some other foods they are eating roots.
8. Cutt the tops of the carrot or turnip with about two inches of the root still attached to the top. Have enough tops for students to work in pairs.
9. Give each pair a carrot top, 4 toothpics, and a plastic cup or bottom section of a 2 liter bottle.
10. Instruct each pair to take turns putting toothpics into the carrot and then balance the carrot inside the cup. After placing the carrot tops in a window or outside, fill the cups with water.
11. The students should observe their roots once a week and measure them to see if there has been any change. Each student should keep a written log of the progress of their carrot.
12. Wash the carrots or turnips and then let each student taste a peice of the root.
13. Working in pairs again give each pair a clear cup or bottom half of 2 liter bottle.
14. Have the pairs fill the cup with soil.
15. Place carrot, turnip, or flower seeds in the soil around the edge of the cup so you can see the seed beneath the soil.
16. Place in a window or outside and water regularly.
17. Students should observe the seed once a week and keep a log of the growth progress of their plant and its roots by measuring each week. As the roots grow students should label (on the side of the cup) the taproot and the fibrous roots.


1. Each child will state the two jobs of the fibrous roots.
2. Each child will state the function of the taproot.
3. Each child will identify the roots of a plant.
4. Each child will work cooperatively with peers.
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