Lesson Plan

How the Timucua Grew Plants

Palmetto leaves
The palmetto leaves were used by the Timucua Indians.
NPS Photo


Students will cover science and history in this lesson.  By exploring how plants grow then specifically how the Timucua used seeds and plant life they will connect concepts across subject area. 


Students will learn that:

  • Plants grow from seeds
  • Seeds sprout under the right conditions
  • Parts of a seed and their functions
  • Seeds germinate and become seedlings
  • Gravity pulls the root from the seed down
  • The stem of the plant grows toward the light
  • To raise questions that can be tested by doing an investigation
  • To inferences to explain observations
  • To keep records of investigations conducted


This unit lesson uses several worksheets, a K-W-L chart, and Exit Tickets to help students learn.


Ask: Where do plants come from? Why would seeds be important to plants and people? Predict what would happen if seeds were not saved? Ask students to describe what they know about seeds already. Begin with a K-W-L worksheet listed under materials. 


Begin with a discussion about seeds being important throughout history. "Many early peoples used seeds as money, jewelry, dyes, spices, ornaments, and to barter for things they needed also for eating and planting." (Project Foods, Land and People) ″ About 2,000 years ago Native North Americans introduced maize(corn), beans, squash and other plants by preparing the ground for planting and keeping the seeds of the healthiest plants to grow the following year. Once the Europeans began to settle in North America they began to trade seeds with the natives; lettuce, watermelon, onions, wheat, coffee, and bananas. Pilgrims shared new ways of planting, growing, harvesting, and storing. Travelers took the new seeds of North America with them to Europe. Then seeds became a good business. (Project Foods, Land and People)

Ask: "How do squash plants make a new seed?″ Show squash, ask for students to explain what they think is inside, if it is a fruit or vegetable, what are seeds, what are they used for? Ask students to explain what the squash might look like or taste like if they have tried it before. Explain that the types of squash we eat was being grown by the Timucuan Native Americans much longer before North Floridian land was later "discovered" as America. Today it grows all over the world because of seeds. Explain that we will be learning about the seeds of a plant and how it is important to the growth of more plants and how it was important to the Native America people the Timucua.

Provide each student with materials to begin growing a seed. The teacher may choose to use seeds gathered from inside the squash or bean plants or use seeds from a packet. Each student will be asked to hypothesize or predict what will happen to the squash (or bean) seed. Ask, What needs to be the same in everyone's cup? What could we change for the cup to see if the plant will still grow the same way? Discuss the terms control and variables; chart them with a working definition for your class. Model how to set up a data chart. Before they start students should decide on all of the controls and have them listed. They should observe and record observations with drawings and words over at least 5 days or until the seeds have sprouted. Have students create inferences or conclusions based on their observations.

Visit http://www.mbgnet.net/bioplants/main.html to teach students about how plants grow, parts of a seed and plant reproduction.

Have students complete the Webquest at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/gpe/index.html.

While the plants are growing for two weeks teach Unit A Chapter 1 from the Scott Foresman Science Textbook.
Lesson 1: "What are the main parts of a plant?"
Lesson 2: "Why do plants needs roots and stems?"
Lesson 4: "How do new plants grow?"
Use Gizmos from www.explorelearning.com



The teacher will check to be sure that the student is keeping correct records of data of seed growth in their science journal. They are to write down observations and use a table or chart to display measured growth in metric units. After seeds have sprouted have students change the position of the roots or stems in one cup to see if it effects the growth of the plant. Record plant observations for one week.

Students should be able to choose appropriate metric units for measuring length and volume, describe what plants need to grow, describe how plants respond to light and gravity, describe structures of plants, and explain why food is needed for plants to stay alive and grow.

Students will conduct research on the Timucuan people of Northeast Florida. The following websites can be used for research:

Students will design a skit or a one act play that highlights how the Timucuan may have traded with French or Spanish explorers/settlers. Their play will have the Timucuan teaching the explorers how to plant a squash or bean seed, how to recognize the parts of the plant, and what the plant requires for growing and developing new plants. The student will be assessed using a content and participation checklist.

Additional Resources

On the following topics: Germination, Growing Plants, Flower Pollination, and Measuring Trees



Timucuan, seed, seedling, stored food, seed coat, sprout, germinate, grow, root, gravity, light, infer, leaf, stem, flower, stimuli, hypothesis, predict, conclusions