Lesson Plans Using Succulent Plants
by Lynn KirkFeb 19, 2022
A classroom comes alive! That’s how a schoolroom transforms when it’s filled with living plants, such as hardy succulents. For some youngsters, it might be their first opportunity to really examine, touch, and experiment with plants of any kind. For others, the adventure might be a deeper dive into the basics of biology and ecosystems. For all, the experience helps develop an appreciation for nature as it teaches the next generation about their role in stewardship, the significance of every plant species, and the inherent interconnections between flora and fauna.
So how do you integrate succulent plants into the classroom setting? The following lesson plans using succulents are springboards for the instructor, whether a public educator or homeschooling parent. These ideas can be incorporated in an extended lesson or divided into multiple sessions that are enhanced with a hands-on lab. Since non-seasonal, the plans can be used in both indoor and outdoor applications. And though geared to elementary school youngsters, the activities can be easily adapted for older students, as well as special needs groups and youth organizations. So check out the following lesson plans using succulent plants and give them a try. Your students will be glad you did!
Lesson Plans Using Succulents
ENGAGE > Show an introductory video. An age-appropriate video that overviews the family of succulent plants can set the stage for learning excitement. It helps youngsters see the world of succulent plants from a new perspective: some taller than themselves; some more colorful than a pack of crayons; some growing in distant places and foreign climates; some prickly and others 'furry'; some even older than their grandparents; and some as weird and wacky as their own imaginations!
EXPLORE > Discuss characteristics of succulent plants and how they . . . Store their own water through fleshy stems, branches, and/or roots.
Provide their own protection through thorny spines (cacti).
Develop specific relationships with other plants and wildlife in their native habitats.
Provide benefits to man, such as soothing aloe gels to erosion control in hard-to-grow places.
INTERACT > Propagate succulent plants and experiment with watering. Now it’s time for a hands-on lab that gets really down and dirty! Again, this can be condensed into a one-session activity that focuses solely on planting needs, or it can be an ongoing project where the students monitor their plants and chart responses over time.
Provide supplies for each student:
- 2 disposable cups with a few small holes punched in the bottom
- Indelible marker
- Small bag of succulent soil* (enough to fill both cups)
- 6 succulent cuttings* (if freshly removed from a plant, allow to dry a day or two so a callous forms before planting)
*Available for order from www.Succulent Market.com.
Step by step, instruct the student to:
- Write your name on each cup. Mark one as #1 and the other as #2.
- Add soil to your cups until about ¾ full.
- Lay 3 cuttings on top of soil in each cup, making sure they do not overlap.
- For cup #1, lightly water.
- For cup #2, drench with water.
- Set both aside in area with filtered light.
- Monitor changes over time.
Share why the ‘planters’ have holes and why this special soil includes perlite or sand (allow drainage since succulent plants do not like ‘wet feet,’ which means sitting in water).
Discuss how different plants, different species have different needs in terms of water, sunlight, and temperatures. Explain the purpose of USDA Plant Zones (helps growers know which plants are best suited to their specific climate).
Create a chart that counts the number of days until propagation shows the beginning of roots. Remind students not to pick up and jostle the plants, since nature strives for survival but at times is fragile to environmental influences.
Talk about how propagation might take place (ever so slowly the leaf develops shallow roots). Remark how long it takes a plant to grow, which is why we need to be good stewards of environment.
Discuss the basics of photosynthesis and how plants create oxygen (makes them 'healthy' additions to our schoolrooms and homes).
Monitor the differences that occur between cup #1 and cup #2. (While cup #1 might begin to grow roots, cup #2 probably will begin to rot). Talk about the negative impact of ignoring a plant’s basic needs. Discuss nature’s cycles of growth and how the leaf will continue to decompose and eventually return its nutrients to the soil (cycle of nature).
At the end of the experiment, allow children to take home their propagated plant or donate it to the school for continued enjoyment.
EVALUATE > Create a worksheet.
Provide opportunities to track progress of understanding, such as:
Matching definitions with terms (e.g., Succulent, Perennial, Propagation, Plant cycle, Decomposition, etc.).
Linking succulent pictures with plant names (e.g., cactus, aloe, etc.).
Match growing environments (such as arid, tropical, indoors) with plant types.
READ > Summarize lessons learned through a related storybook.
Assign outside readings or videos that reinforce the fundamentals of succulent plants and their care.
These lesson plans using succulents are provided by Succulent Market, a family-owned, multi-generational farm that has taught gardeners, homeowners, and educators how to responsibly grow and nurture succulents for more than 50 years. Succulent Market practices domestic propagation and eco-stewardship as it shares the love of succulents with all who visit its online webstore @ www.SucculentMarket.com.