One of the fundamental concepts in earth science, teaching photosynthesis for kids should stress the importance of this process in nature. It affects all living things, both plants and animals. This important relationship we have, exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide, is just a glimpse of our world’s interdependency.
Photosynthesis is one of the most important processes in nature, and that’s why it’s one of the first topics that we learn about in science class. Simply put, photosynthesis is the way that plants use sunlight to power a chemical reaction in order to make food.
Because plants grow so slowly, it’s easy to forget that they are living things, too, and as living things they have to eat. Even though they’re alive, they have no way of getting food, so they have to make it through an internal process. However, photosynthesis isn’t always the easiest subject for young people to understand, so here are 10 ways of explaining photosynthesis for kids.
Explaining Photosynthesis for Kids
1. Explain that Plants Are Alive, Just Like Us
A simple way to explain photosynthesis for kids is by comparing it to how our own bodies work. Just as we breathe in oxygen, drink water, and eat, plants breathe in a gas and use water to grow. Instead of oxygen, they use carbon dioxide (CO2). They take CO2 and water and use the energy from the sun to create a kind of sugar for food. They then use that sugar to get energy, just as our bodies convert the nutrients such as the sugar in foods into energy.
2. Make a Model
Some people learn better when the teacher explains something to them verbally. However, processes like photosynthesis can be hard to imagine without seeing them up close. Although it’s impossible to see photosynthesis in action, making a model is a great way of making photosynthesis easier to understand for kids. Check out these instructions for making your own 3D model in class or at home..
3. Act Out Photosynthesis in a Play
A lot of people, especially kids, learn best when they’re moving around. The act of doing something helps you understand what you are doing and helps you remember it later. A great way of explaining photosynthesis for kids is to act out the process. If you’re doing it in class, students can work in groups. One student can be the sun and another student can be water, and both can walk over to the student who is playing the plant. The process of creating identifying props for each participant in the process also helps kids remember and understand the parts of photosynthesis.
4. Use a Mnemonic to Help you Remember the Steps
A mnemonic is a way to remember something. Usually, when people talk about mnemonics, they mean short phrases or rhymes that can help you memorize something important. One example is ROYGBIV, a mnemonic for remembering the colors of the rainbow. A mnemonic can be a good way to help kids remember the steps in photosynthesis. For example, you could use the phrase, “William caught his dog on the grass,” to help you remember the basic formula: water (H20) + CO2 -> O2 + sugar (glucose).
5. Write a Song
Another way of explaining photosynthesis for kids is music. Music is a great learning aid because we tend to repeat or listen to music over and over again, so the repetition is the key. Here is one example, but a creative activity would be to have kids write their own song.
6. Set up Your Own lab
It’s easy to get kids excited about science if they feel like they’re doing something, not just learning about it. For example, you could do an experiment with a microscope to see how the intensity of light affects photosynthesis. For younger kids, just looking at plant cells under a microscope will be a great way to make the theory come alive.
7. Watch Videos
Some students find it difficult to concentrate in class. Watching an instructional video is another great way to learn about photosynthesis for kids. This is especially helpful before homework or as review before testing as a way of getting the big picture. Check out Khan Academy’s brief video that breaks down photosynthesis in simple language.
8. Start Your Own Garden
Starting your own garden allows you to see photosynthesis in action. It’s a fun way to learn about photosynthesis for kids, and it helps to reinforce many other science concepts. Watering the plants and making sure they get sunlight helps kids learn about the left side of the photosynthesis equation while watching the plants grow teaches the right side. Gardening also teaches responsibility and environmental awareness.
9. Visit a Museum
Many cities have children’s museums or youth science museums that are likely to have an exhibit about photosynthesis. These hands-on exhibits are opportunities for kids to experience interactive learning without the pressures of school.
10. Read a Book
It might not be the most innovative or exciting option to learn about photosynthesis for kids, but there are many excellent books on science for children and young adults. Independent reading is a chance to learn about photosynthesis and other concepts in biology. It fosters an interest in the subject and has the added benefit of improving reading skills. Extensive reading is so beneficial that many schools today require silent reading several times a day.
Photosynthesis is one of the most essential concepts in science. It underpins almost everything else in biology, and learning about it is also a good introduction to some of the basic ideas in chemistry. Although the idea of photosynthesis is emphasized in science classes, many kids can benefit from alternative ways of learning about it.
Images taken from depositphotos.com.