National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
People and Plants Need Nutrients
K - 2
In this lesson, students will learn that although plants and people obtain nutrients differently, they both need proper amounts of nutrients to grow and be healthy.
- People and Plants Need Nutrients activity sheet & answer key
- People and Plants Need Nutrients chart
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- People and Plants Need Nutrients Activity Sheet Key
- People and Plants Need Nutrients activity sheet
- People and Plants Need Nutrients chart
macronutrient: a substance required in relatively large amounts by a living organism such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in plants
micronutrient: a substance required in relatively small amounts by a living organism such as iron in plants
nutrient: substance that provides nourishment essential for growth and life
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Potassium protects our plants!
- Nitrogen is present in all living things including the human body and plants.
- Phosphorus is used to make matches. In Greek, the word means "bearer of light."
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Ask students, "Did you know that people and plants BOTH need nutrients to grow and be healthy?"
- Ask students, "Where do people obtain nutrients?" (Food) "Where do plants get nutrients?" (from the soil, air, and water)
- Inform your students that they will be learning about the nutrients that plants need in order to grow and provide healthy food for our diet.
- Ask students if they know why it is important to eat healthy foods. Explain that healthy foods supply our bodies with the nutrients they need for energy, growth, and repair. Ask students to help make a list of some healthy foods they can include in a meal or snack. Give an example of foods that are good sources of certain nutrients. For example, milk is a good source of calcium, oranges are a good source of vitamin C, and bananas are a good source of potassium.
- Ask students if plants need food. Explain that plants, just like people, need food for energy, growth, and repair, but they do not eat food like people do. Instead, plants make their own food by capturing energy from sunlight to carry out a process called photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is the pigment inside leaves that gives them their green color and makes grass stains on your clothes. It helps plants absorb energy from the sun to make their own food.
- Ask students to help you make a chart on the board of what plants need in order to make their own food. Write the words and draw the symbols for sun, water, and soil on the board. Next, draw a simple plant on the board and show its roots growing down into the soil. Explain that most of the nutrients a plant needs come from the soil. Plants get these soil nutrients when their roots absorb them along with water. Distribute the People and Plants Need Nutrients chart to each student. As a class, review the chart to discuss what nutrients are important to plants and people. Use the questions from the People and Plants Need Nutrients activity sheet as group work or individual assignments for each student.
Note: The plant nutrients shown in the chart are called macronutrients because plants use large amounts of these nutrients. Micronutrients are nutrients that are just as important for plant growth but are needed in much smaller amounts. Micronutrients include iron, manganese, chlorine, zinc, boron, molybdenum, copper, nickel, hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation:
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Plants require specific nutrients for healthy growth.
- Nutrients for plants are acquired through natural resources such as the soil, water, and air.
- Farmers grow and produce our food. They use science to grow healthy plants and preserve natural resources for continued use.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Complete the activities from the Fun With the Plant Nutrient Team student activity book found on pages 1-3, 5, 7-9, 11-13, and 23.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Dirt: The Scoop on Soil (Book)
- Planters and Cultivators: with Casey and Friends (Book)
- Seed, Soil, Sun: Earth's Recipe for Food (Book)
- Your Day With NPK Online Game (Multimedia)
- Fun With the Plant Nutrient Team Student Activity Book (Booklets & Readers)
- Under Your Feet: Exploring Soil Science (Booklets & Readers)
- From the Ground Up: The Science of Soil (Website)
- Soil Health Education Resources (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy
- Explain how farmers work with the lifecycle of plants and animals (planting/breeding) to harvest a crop (T2.K-2.a)
- Identify the importance of natural resources (e.g., sun, soil, water, minerals) in farming (T2.K-2.e)
Education Content Standards
K-ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
K-ESS3-1Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places they live.
Common Core Connections
Writing: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.