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Above and Below

What's going on in the ground below a plant? Students use Crayola Model Magic to create a relief showing plants and their roots.

  • Kindergarten
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Share a story about plants and gardening such as "The Turnip" by Jan Brett. Invite students to examine a plant that has been pulled from a pot to expose the roots.
    2. Identify and name the parts of a plant that are above ground and below. Allow time for students to examine the roots and leaves using a magnifying glass. Encourage students to share what they notice and what surprised them about the part of the plant that was hidden below the soil. Discuss the function of the leaves and the roots of the plant.
    3. Direct students to fold a 6" x 9" (15.24 cm x 22.86 cm) manila paper or colored construction paper in half to make a top section for the sky and a bottom section for soil. Depending upon the color of the paper chosen, students may want to color one or both sections of their sheet to represent the sky and soil. Crayola Construction Paper Crayons work well on a variety of colored papers.
    4. Discuss the colors of the parts of the plant above the soil and the parts underground, or below, in the soil. Distribute about 1/2 oz of green Crayola Model Magic to each student. Demonstrate how to roll "snakes" or cylinders to form stems or leaves of a plant. Attach leaf and stem shapes above the soil line. Students can press the Model Magic modeling compound right onto their picture. Model Magic that is fresh from the pack will stick to itself. The moist Model Magic may also stick to the paper if the crayon is not applied too thick. Dried pieces that need reinforcing can be glued down with Crayola Washable No-Run School Glue.
    5. Distribute about 1/2 oz of brown, earthtone, terra cotta, or bisque Model Magic to each student. Review rolling "snakes" or coils and encourage students to make coils of varying thickness. Attach and the root shapes to the bottom of the green plant shapes, below the soil line.
    6. Students may take their work home after letting it dry for overnight. Encourage them to use their work to explain to their family what they have learned about plants.
  • Standards

    LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    MATH: Identify and describe shapes.

    MATH: Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes.

    SCI: Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.

    VA: Use a variety of artmaking tools.

    VA: Explore the world using descriptive and expressive words and art-making.

  • Adaptations

    Students add more detail to their backgrounds by drawing the sun, water, and other things plants would need to survive. Use a bigger piece of paper to create a larger artwork and add animals to the drawing, above and below ground, or draw a scarecrow above ground to help protect the plants from birds!

    Students show the different stages of plants. Add seeds to the soil and different lengths of plant roots, stems, and leaves.

    Students make their own green modeling compound by combining yellow Model Magic with some blue. Play around with the ratios of yellow to blue to produce different kinds of greens.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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