Out Teach
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Lower Primary
  • Comparing
  • Math
  • Measurements and Data
  • Nonstandard Units
  • Ordering
  • Out Teach
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    Education Standards

    Measuring Plants -- Out Teach

    Measuring Plants -- Out Teach


    In this lesson, students will build fluency using the language of measurement by collecting data about various plants in the outdoor classroom.

    Background For Teachers

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    The most basic form of this lesson can involve students simply observing and verbally describing the general sizes of plant dimensions using phrases like: "that plant is really tall/medium/or short." It will greatly increase student accountability to have them record their observations in some way, but that can become difficult for students who have limited writing capabilities. You can use a code like T:tall, M:medium, S:short and have them record the different numbers of plants that they see that fit these descriptions. One option to increase the complexity of the task would be to use connector cubes in the outdoor classroom to compare different plants (this would require sticking to relatively smaller plants that can be measured in cubes). This could allow students to make statements like: "This plant is 4 cubes taller than that plant." Make sure to emphasize the real-world components of scientifically recording data and take advantage of developing vocabulary about plant names and plant parts.  Caution: If students are exploring wild or weedy areas, be aware of poison ivy and other possible regional hazards such as the presence of snakes. 

    Key Vocabulary

    • Height

    • Width

    • Compare

    • Plant parts: roots, trunk, branches, etc.

    Measurement words: tall, medium, short, wide, narrow, skinny

    Guiding Question

    How can we describe the different sizes of plants?


    Have students warm up for the lesson by talking about how plants come in different sizes and have them represent those sizes with their bodies: reaching up on their toes to show tall, hunching over to show medium, and squatting down to show small plants. Treat this like an exercise and the students will be excited to move forward in the lesson.


    Have students work in pairs or teams to explore the outdoor space looking for different sized plants. Students will explore the garden and find three plants: small, medium and large. Have them try to sketch the plants.

    Differentiation (use one strategy or a combination to meet the needs of students):

    Basic: Have students find plants and verbally discuss the different sizes with each other as the teacher engages with different groups to ensure accountability. 

    • More advanced: Have students record one or more dimension on a table:

    Complex: Have students use uni-fix cubes to measure two different plants and describe the difference in size in terms of the number of cubes. Have students record the data in a table.

    Guiding Questions: 

    • Where do you see the tallest or shortest plants?

    • How would you describe this plant's height/width?

    • Can you find a plant that is taller/shorter than you?


    Once students have had time to explore and collect data, call them to a gathering space using a loud signal.

    Have students share their data with the class, being as specific as possible and using the correct vocabulary.

    Explain that some plants are small because they are young plants and they will get bigger as they get older. Other plants stay small even when they are older.


    • What words would we use to describe how tall/wide something is?

    • Why would we want to compare the sizes of plants? ( so we know where to plant certain plants, so we know how healthy plants are/rate of growth).

    • What are some reasons why some plants might be bigger than others?

    • What else from the outdoor classroom can we compare sizes with? (rocks, leaves, buildings)


    Have students decide on another set of objects to "measure" and repeat the exercise individually


    Exit ticket: 

    • Option 1: Have students show with their bodies the various attributes of height.

    • Option 2: Draw three plants on the board, label them and have the students write down the labels in order from tallest to smallest and/or reverse order. 

    Extensions and Connections

    This lesson can be connected to other plant lessons that focus more closely on plant parts as well as other lessons that "measure" the plants over time.