Lesson Plan

Exploring Our Local Plant Life

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Grade Level:
Lower Elementary: Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
State Standards:
NGSS Standard – LS4.D – Biodiversity and Humans
There are many different kinds of living things in any area, and they exist in different places on land and in water.


Students will be able to make observations of different plants that live in their local habitat. By the end of the lesson students will be able to compare the similarities and differences of their local plant life to the plant life in the coastal region of the Olympic National Park.


Before the lesson the teacher will need to be able to identify some basic plant life in their local school yard as well as the plant life that can be found in the coastal regions of the Olympic National Park. In addition, the teacher will need to have prepared the students for the proper process on how to complete outside observations in their journal and the behavior that is expected of them both inside and outside the classroom when investigating science.
Prior to the lesson the teacher will have taught a lesson on identifying the plants located in the coastal areas of the Olympic National Park. 


Before the lesson the teacher will have 5 areas already clearly marked for the students to record their observations from. The teacher will also have created and prepared plant identification cards for their local habitat as well as for the coastal region of the Olympic National Park. The teacher will need to create enough plant identification cards that each student is able to have their own card (best if laminated). In addition, students will have their observation pages prepared and ready to go before the lesson.
Materials each student will need

  • Science journal with observation pages glued inside
  • Pencil
  • Colored pencils (to add color when they are back in the classroom)
  • Walking shoes to explore
  • Magnifying glass to explore
Teacher will need
  • Pencil
  • Clipboard
  • Local plant field guide
Magnifying glass 


Download Plant Observation Page

Download Olympic National Park Plant Guide

Lesson Hook/Preview

Before beginning the lesson the class will explore the plants located in the coastal region of the Olympic National Park through the parks website found here: https://www.nps.gov/olym/learn/nature/plants.htm 


Step One: (Students will have journals complete and ready for the field experience) Students and teacher will gather the materials needed and will line up to head outside.
Step Two: If possible students will break into 5 separate groups if there are enough adult helpers, if not students stay as a group. Repeat directions and expectations for how to record and observation when looking at the areas that have previously marked off.
Step Three: Students will be given 2 minutes to examine the area with their magnifying glass. If in a whole group have 5 students at a time examine the circle and then let others have a turn. After the exploration of the area, using only a pencil, students will draw to the best of their ability what they see and make notes as to what plants they can identify in the area. Once one area is done continue to the next zone. Repeat until all zones are complete. Gather students together as a group.
Step Four: As a whole group gather outside (weather permitting) and discuss what plants were found. What surprised them? What did they find the more interesting? Did they notice and small animals or bugs living in the plant habitat? What do plants need to survive?
Step Five: Gather back in the classroom. As a whole group, have students add to their observations in their notebook other plants that others have identified that they might have missed. Students may then have 5 -10 minutes to color in their pictures from their observations. Remind students that their coloring needs to be realistic to what they observed.
Step Six: In small groups students will use a Venn diagram to compare the similarities and differences between the plant life they observed in their school yard to the plant life present in the Olympic National Park. Students can use a poster paper and markers to complete their diagram. After their small group activity, students will copy the information from the Venn diagram into the Venn diagram in their journal.
** Continuation of the lesson could be a virtual ranger field trip in the classroom where the ranger can discuss the local plant life found in the Olympic National Park.


habitat –  A natural home or environment of an animal, plant or organism
Olympic National Park  – Olympic National Park is a United States national park located in the state of Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula.
similarities – A quality that makes one thing or person like another.
differences – A quality that makes one thing or person different from another. 

Assessment Materials

Second Grade Writing Rubric

See attached Rubric

The main assessment is a writing piece, in 4 to 6 sentences students will be asked to write out 2 similarities and 2 differences between their local school yard and the Olympic National Park. Some editing to the writing will be expected. Students may use their science journals and references as notes to guide their writing. 

2nd Grade Writing Rubric

Download Assessment

Supports for Struggling Learners

If a student is struggling with the writing portion of the task the student can be given extra support from the teacher through assisted writing. If the student struggles to copy from the board the teacher can give the student their science journal or notes to copy from. 

Enrichment Activities

For an excelling learners student can be allowed to create a pamphlet of 2 plants found in their local school yard and two plants in the Olympic National Park including pictures and details

Additional Resources


Related Lessons or Education Materials

A continuation of the lesson would be a ranger in the classroom talk, or a traveling trunk from the Olympic National Park.

Contact Information

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Last updated: August 31, 2017