Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about the plant life cycle. It is designed to complement the Plant Life Cycle topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

How does a seed grow? In this movie, you’ll learn about the life cycle of a plant. You’ll explore how a seed can germinate and sprout, grow into a seedling, and then turn into to adult plant. Adult plants can grow flowers and, when the flowers are pollinated, they can turn into fruit with seeds inside. After the fruit ripens, it can fall to the ground and the seeds inside can grow into new plants.

A life cycle shows how a living thing grows, changes, and reproduces itself. While plants’ life cycles are continuous, the study of one plant’s life begins with the seed. We recommend watching the Parts of a Plant movie together as a review. Though we introduce the seed as a plant part that can grow into a new plant, it is important that children understand that plants can also grow from cuttings, bulbs, tuber pieces, or runners. Some seeds have an outer layer called a seed coat or hull, which provides protection and nourishment for the embryo inside. When a seed germinates, a small root begins to grow downward and a shoot grows upward. When the shoot breaks the surface, the plant is called a sprout. Sometimes the seed coat is still clinging to the sprout when it surfaces. The sprout uses water and nutrients from the soil along with sunlight and air to grow and change into a seedling. A seedling is a small plant with few leaves that is vulnerable to the elements. Eventually the seedling changes into a young adult plant. At this stage, the plant is bigger and may have more leaves. Thin branches will develop on young adult trees. Over time, the young adult plant will grow into an adult plant, which is sexually mature and has the ability to reproduce through spores or flowers. After flowers are pollinated, they enlarge and turn into fruit with seeds inside. The skin and flesh of the fruit protects the seeds and after the fruit ripens and decays, the seeds can start the life cycle all over again. Because there are so many threats to both seeds and seedlings, a plant will often produce large amounts of seeds to insure some will survive.

Many animals like birds, squirrels, deer, and bears eat fruit and their seeds. Some seeds can pass through their digestive tracts and get left behind in a different place. Seed dispersal allows plants to grow in different places and allows for a diversity of life in any given area. Wind can also disperse seeds to new places. Many trees, such as the maple, grow seeds with small “wings” that allow them to utilize the wind to travel to new places. Seeds for other plants, such as dandelions, are formed with small, light tufts of hair that enable them to float in the air. Plants can also use water to disperse their seeds. Lotus flower and mangrove plants drop their seeds into water, where they travel before taking root. Seeds of many plants often end up in streams, rivers, lakes, and even oceans—and can travel to different places. This is why some deserted islands have coconut trees; coconuts can travel miles in the ocean and wind up on land elsewhere.

Encourage your children to think of the life cycle of different plants and the importance of plants to our world. Understanding how living things grow and change will help your children understand their environment and the importance of caring for it.