live in Alaska or Florida, the natural world changes come winter. While
you're pondering just what your tulips are up to underground, why not uncover
what's happening to other plants this time of year? How do they survive
Strategies for Survival
To help you guide student observations, find out what happens to plants in
the winter and learn the "why" behind it. Visit our Teacher
Background for this activity.
As a class,
explore these questions and create a chart listing student responses
for each one.
different outdoors in the winter than in the fall or summer? (You
may have to prompt students with questions about temperatures,
when it gets dark, and so on.) What challenges might living
do you prepare for winter changes (e.g., wear warmer clothing,
come in earlier)?
do you think plants prepare for or respond to those changes?
the fact that plants can't migrate to places that have better conditions
for winter survival, like animals can. Invite students to become keen
observers of plants in their schoolyards and neighborhood this winter
and try to figure out just how plants get by.
plants. Together, identify one or more plants or groups
of plants, besides your bulbs, that you want to observe this winter
and/or spring. For instance, you might look at plants in a nearby
meadow or compare an evergreen tree and a deciduous tree.
You might decide to observe many plants just once, or observe one (or more)
plants each month so you can note changes. If you start this in the fall,
students can observe changes that take place as winter begins.
and record. Students can take the Plants
in Winter handouts outside
with them, or complete these back in class. (Edit the handout to
fit your grade level or create a class chart on flipchart paper.)
Encourage students to draw and describe what they see. Ask, How
are plants different than they were in the summer and fall? Students
will likely notice obvious items, such as missing leaves. The background
information can help you guide them to notice less obvious structures,
such as buds on branches.
student observations on a class list. How do they compare with their
initial ideas? If practical, try to group observations as students
see fit (e.g., colors, plant parts). Go through the list and for
each observation or change ask, Why? How might this help
the plant survive the winter?
Remind the class that there is always a WHY behind WHAT we see! Share
some of the background information once students have posed their own theories.
it Could Help Plant Survive
|grass is dried up
- Ask, On
the basis of what we observed here and with our tulips, how do
you think our tulips manage to survive winter? Once students
share their ideas, read Tulip
Bulbs: A Survival Tale.
- Activity: How
do freezing temperatures affect plant leaves? (activity to come)
Photos/Assessment: Go to this photo
collection depicting a tree in each of the four seasons. Have
students look closely at the photos. Ask them to describe what
they see in each frame. Next ask them to explain how what they
see in each season helps the plant survive. (Do this only if they
have already explored plants through the seasons.) Consider the
* In summer, a tree's leaves make food.
* Fall colors show through as the leaves stop making food and prepare for
* In winter, many trees lose their leaves (which could freeze or dry out
the plant); they send the food the leaves made down to the roots.
* Spring flowers attract pollinators so the plants can produce seeds (offspring)