Food Chain

The Importance of Plants

Object Type: Video Clip
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The Importance of Plants

Students see and learn how plants are the basis of food chains and how they are capable of making their own food. Shows different species of plants and identifies how different plants are used for food, oxygen, clothing, and building materials.

Discover how plants are the basis of food chains and how they are capable of making their own food.

  1. Students will understand how plants grow. In order to grow, plants require sun, soil, and water. During photosynthesis several steps occur: the green pigment in the tops of a plant's leaves, called chlorophyll, absorbs light energy from the sun; carbon dioxide gas enters through the stomata on the underside of the leaves; water is absorbed by the roots and is distributed to the leaves. Ultimately, the light energy, carbon dioxide, and water are used to make food for the plant. Plants also need nutrients to grow and live. These nutrients are taken up from the soil by the roots, and distributed through the veins of the plant to all of its parts.
  2. Students will know the importance of plants in our world.
    1. Plants can be used as food for people and animals. Grains, which include wheat, rice, and corn, are used in our breakfast cereals, breads, and other foods. People eat the leaves of plants in salads. Some seeds and leaves are used as flavorings and spices. Cows eat grasses and grains for their food and then produce the milk that humans drink. We can obtain these plant products from backyard and community gardens, or from large gardens called farms.
    2. Plants are an extremely important part of the food chain. Without plants, the whole food chain would collapse, and every living thing would starve.
    3. Plants are used in our clothing. For example, shirts and pants can be made out of cotton, which comes from cotton plants and is spun into yarn. Another example is the rubber on the soles of shoes, which is a product of the latex sap from a tree. In addition, some of the dyes used to color our clothing come from plants.
    4. Both animals and people depend on plants for shelter. Nesting birds use plants to build their nests. Humans use lumber to build homes and other buildings.
    5. Humans use plant products for energy. Decomposed, compressed plants from long ago become crude oil, which is used in gasoline, and other fossil fuels, like coal and peat. These fuels can be used to create heat and energy for homes.
    6. Other important plant products include paper, furniture, musical instruments, and firewood.
    7. Plants help prevent the erosion of the earth's soil. Flowing water, heat, ice, and wind can cause the soil to erode. The roots of plants grow under ground. These roots hold the soil in place, and therefore, help prevent erosion.
    8. Plants are also used in medicine. Aloe from the aloe plant is used to treat skin rashes and burns.
    9. Plants provide clean recycled air for us to breathe. As a plant grows, it releases oxygen gas and water. Animals need oxygen to live.

  1. Before viewing the video

    1. Anticipatory Set: Display the following (or similar objects) in front of the class: box of cereal (grain), carton of milk (grass to cow to milk), cotton handkerchief (cotton plant), apple (apple tree), eraser (rubber tree), raisins (grapes). Ask, "What is the same about all these objects?" Answer is that they all come, in some way, from plants. Have children tell how each is related to plants and then name things in the classroom related to plants. View the video to discover more about the importance of plants in our world.
  2. After viewing the video

    1. Collecting and Comparing Leaves: Bring 6 very different leaves to school. Have the class name ways that the leaves are different and ways they are the same. Have each child bring in one leaf, reminding each to check with neighbors before getting a leaf in their yards. Place four box tops on a table with the following labels in front, Color, Shape, Size, and Edges. Children take turns sorting leaves; then do it as a class, with discussions as to why a selection is made. Children must sort for one category at a time, as most leaves will fit into several categories.
    2. Seed planting: Have each child bring four similar seeds in an envelope labeled with his/her name and the kinds of seeds. Get several cookie sheets covered with aquarium gravel for carrying the plants outside for sunshine and for drainage when watering. Prepare in advance for each child: a milk carton with a hole in the bottom; potting soil to about one inch from the top; child's name printed on the carton; a paper that has been cut to fit around the milk carton, folded in fourths to match the 4 sides of the carton. Procedure: Each child tells about his/her seeds, then plants 3 of them, making a hole to his/her first knuckle, then covering the seeds. At another session, pass out the folded papers. Each child writes his/her name in the upper left-hand corner; numbers the sections from 1 to 4; tapes the fourth seed in section 1. Collect the papers. When most of the seeds have sprouted, draw the little plant in section 2. In a month, draw the plant in section 3. The children then draw what they think the adult plant will look like in section 4. The children can take the plants home and plant them in their yards.

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