How Plants Spice Up Our Lives

Trudy S. Moore Scott Joplin Elementary School
7931 S. Honore
Chicago IL 60620
(312) 535-2547


This lesson is designed for the third grade but can be easily adapted to lower
or higher grades. The objectives of this lesson are:
* Students will be able to label and identify parts of plants.
* Students will be able to identify spices obtained from plants.
* Students will be able to determine what part of a plant a spice comes
from by using taste, touch, smell and sight.

Materials Needed:

Activity I
Fresh or artificial flowers
Construction paper in different colors

Activity II
Copies of puzzle for each student

Activity III
Small styrofoam cups
Potting soil
Popsicle sticks or tongue depressors
Seedling plants and/or plant seeds
Newsprint paper for graphs

Activity IV
Small containers with lids preferably to hold a tablespoonful of various
Assorted spices

Activity V
Food items seasoned with various spices


Depending on the grade level, teacher will discuss various parts of a
plant with class and their functions. For the primary level, I would stick
basically with the roots, stem/bark, leaves, bud and flower which may produce
fruit/seeds. Explain that the roots of the plant hold it firmly in place,
preventing it from being washed away by the rains or blown away by strong winds.
The roots are also responsible for drawing nutrients from the soil or water so
the plant will be able to grow and thrive. The stem is a conduit that allows
all the nourishment gathered by the roots to be distributed to other parts of
the plant. The bark of a tree operates in much the same way in addition to
serving as a protective covering. Buds are the part of the plant that envelope
the undeveloped flower before it blossoms. Leaves are the green offshoots of
the plant that are often dried and ground to make spices. The seeds are
produced by the plant flower and can be ground or replanted to grow another
plant. Bring an assortment of spices in, processed as well as in plant form,
for children to examine. Popular plant spices to bring are:
1. garlic 2. cinnamon 3. nutmeg 4. mace 5. thyme
6. coriander 7. black pepper 8. bay leaves 9. mint 10. dill
11. vanilla 12. mustard 13. scallion 14. sage 15. fennel
16. rosemary 17.ginger 18. jalapeno
19. red & green peppers 20. cocoa/chocolate


Activity I
After dividing children into groups of 3 or 4, give each group a live or
artificial plant. They will examine each part of the plant as teacher points
out the various parts of the plant. Then students will use scissors to cut out
leaves, stems, roots, etc. from colorful construction paper and glue pieces on
news print to make their own plants. They will use markers to label the
appropriate parts of each plant.

Activity II
Each student will get a puzzle (crossword, word search, fill-in-the-
blanks) generated by teacher to complete during class lesson. Answers to puzzle
will include spices and/or plant terminology discussed in class.

Activity III
Groups of 3 or 4 students will be given styrofoam cups to plant seeds
and/or seedlings. The name of the plant will be written on a popsicle stick or
comparable marker and stuck into the dirt after the plant is potted. Students
will keep a record of plant growth by making a graph on newsprint paper and
writing entries in a daily journal. Each group of children will calculate the
growth/projected growth of their plants during allotted period designated by
instructor. At end of period, have each group graph the maximum growth of their
plants and compare data.

Activity IV
Students will go around to various stations in classroom which have
containers holding spices. Each container is labeled A, B, C... or 1, 2,
3... and students must try to identify each by touch, sight, smell or taste.
They will record their answers on a separate sheet. Students will also identify
what part of the plant each spice comes from.

Activity V
Students will participate in a taste test in class to identify the spices
contained in a variety of food products which could range from chocolate milk,
and apple pie to rye bread.

Performance Assessment:

Children will be able to identify the parts of the plant, name spices
obtained from plants and identify which part of the plant the spice comes from
with an 80 percent accuracy. For a written test, students will be given a copy
of a plant on a sheet of paper and will be required to label each part that was
discussed during the lesson. Depending on how many spices are presented in
class, children should be able to identify at least two spices that come from
each plant section. Orally, children should be able to tell their favorite
spice(s) and tell what foods they can be found in. Assign children to do a one-
page research paper on a spice they are not familiar with. Have them use the
library, the grocery story and adults as sources of information. Include in
paper where plant grows, what part is made into a spice and what foods contain
the spice.

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