Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

What Do Plants Need to Survive?

Subject Area

Arts Education




Students will use their knowledge of the parts of a plant to discuss what a plant needs to survive. Students will manipulate their three-dimensional plant to show the importance of all the parts of a plant. Students will use a variety of materials to create their 3D model. Examples of materials include pipe cleaners, paper towel rolls, paper, tissue paper, play dough, clay, etc. 

This activity was created as a result of the Arts COS Resource Development Summit.

    Arts Education (2017) Grade(s): KG - Visual Arts


    Engage in self-directed exploration and imaginative play with art materials.

    Unpacked Content



    • Art
    • Artwork
    • Collaboratively
    • Collage
    • Cool colors
    • Warm colors
    • Elements of Art
      • Color
      • Line
      • Shape
    • Imaginative play
    • Play
    • Portfolio
    • Primary colors
    • Principles of design
      • Pattern
    • Printmaking

    Essential Questions

    EU: Creativity and innovative thinking are essential life skills that can be developed.
    EQ: What conditions, attitudes, and behaviors support creativity and innovative thinking? What factors prevent or encourage people to take creative risks? How does collaboration expand the creative process?

    Skills Examples

    • Create two-dimensional artworks using finger painting, watercolors, paper collage, and rubbings.
    • Create three-dimensional artworks using techniques such as rolling, folding, cutting, molding, pinching, and pulling clay.
    • Work with a partner to create works of art.
    • Working in small groups, use recycled materials to create artworks.
    • Explore the books Why is Blue Dog Blue? by G. Rodrigue and My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss to understand color meanings and moods.
    • Read the book Lines that Wiggle by Candace Whitman to explore different styles of line.
    • Safely use and share scissors, pencils, crayons, markers, glue, paints, paintbrushes, and clay.
    • Use symbols to help tell a personal or make-believe story.
    • Manipulate art media to create textures and patterns.
    • Identify and use organic and geometric shapes to create works of art.
    • Show respect for self and others while making and viewing art.
    • Use the primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) to create a free-style painting while singing the names of the colors.
    • Use patterns in designing colored stripes on the shirt of a person you know.
    • Collect found objects such as paper tubes, forks, and pieces of cardboard. Press them in shallow tempera paint, and stamp them on paper to show printmaking.
    • Create a T-chart that separates cool (blue, green, and purple) and warm (red, yellow, and orange) colors in different columns. Use the symbols of water waves for the cool column header and the sun for the warm column header.
    • Work with a partner to find colors, lines, and shapes in art and tell each other what you see.

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
    Science (2015) Grade(s): KG


    Distinguish between living and nonliving things and verify what living things need to survive (e.g., animals needing food, water, and air; plants needing nutrients, water, sunlight, and air).

    Unpacked Content



    • Distinguish
    • Living
    • Nonliving
    • Verify
    • Need
    • Survive
    • Animals
    • Plants
    • Nutrients
    • Water
    • Sunlight
    • Air
    • Food


    Students know:
    • All animals need food, water, and air in order to survive.
    • Animals obtain their food from plants and other animals.
    • Plants need water, light and air to survive.


    Students are able to:
    • Distinguish between living (including humans) and nonliving things.
    • Verify what living things, including plants and animals, need to survive.


    Students understand that:
    • Patterns in the natural world can be observed and used as evidence when distinguishing between living and nonliving things and determining the needs of living things.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Analyzing and Interpreting Data

    Crosscutting Concepts



    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    Learning Targets

    I can:

    identify what a plant needs to survive.

    explain why the parts of the plant are essential to survival. 

    create a three-dimensional model of a plant.

    Activity Details

    • Discuss as a class what a plant needs to grow.
    • Emphasize that the parts of a plant are essential in growth and survival.
    • Brainstorm why a plant needs roots, stems, leaves, and a flower.
    • Engage students to think about a plant in the absence of one part.
    • For instance, think about a plant without roots.
    • Discuss in isolation the importance of each part of the plant for survival.
    • Students will work independently to create a three-dimensional model of a plant with given materials.
    • Student plants should include stems, roots, leaves, petals, and a flower.
    • After creating their model, students will share with their elbow partners what plants need to survive.
    • The teacher will monitor as students work.
    • Students will present their three-dimensional model and share what plants need to survive as their summative assessment.   
    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    Students will present their three-dimensional model and the teacher will check for understanding using a rubric. 


    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    To provide students with background information, you can find a book on what plants need to survive. Gather materials for students to use to create their three-dimensional model such as pipe cleaners, clay, tissue paper, playdough, paper towel rolls, etc.