Published using Google Docs
Lesson #2 Greenhouses 3rd-6th.docx
Updated automatically every 5 minutes

                                   Greenhouses (3rd- 6th)| Series 2, Lesson #2



Key Topics/Vocabulary: Greenhouse, Hoop House, Greenhouse Effect, Sun, Temperature, Microclimate, Seasons, Weather, Thermometer

Grade Levels: 3rd-6th

Click here for Series #2 Description 

Spanish Lesson Plan

Science Framework

Lesson Bridge

Connect this lesson (2) to Cool Carbon Sink Oaks (1) by reflecting on what we recently learned about the carbon cycle and how human impact contributes to the greenhouse effect. On a large scale, the greenhouse effect is known to negatively disrupt the earth’s climate, but on a small scale it can benefit our garden! Close the Loop by pointing out that by reducing our inorganic or non-natural waste, we can keep less carbon from entering the atmosphere! The more plants we grow and compost we make, the more carbon is returned to the earth where it is safe and can be used as food for plants and animals. Furthermore, consuming less (thus reducing waste) means the use of less fossil fuels!

Lesson Overview:  

In this lesson, students will learn how plants grow best at certain temperatures. Students will then learn about how humans developed greenhouses to change their local environmental conditions to grow plants in colder weather!  Students will then engineer their own prototypes of greenhouses to modify soil temperature and growing conditions.

Suggested Activities & Learning Objectives by Grade:

Essential Question(s) that Connect CCCs and SEPs: 


Greenhouse- A building with glass walls and a glass ceiling. It is able to stay warm inside even during the winter months.

Hoop House- A type of greenhouse that is built by using a bending system over a garden bed or crop. Usually made with PVC pipe.

Greenhouse Effect- When gasses(CO2) in the earth’s atmosphere trap the heat from the sun.

Sun- The star at the center of the solar system warming earth.

Temperature- A measurement of how warm or cold it is.

Microclimate- A small area where the weather is different from the areas that are surrounding it

Seasons- The cycle of weather changes divided into 4 parts, the four seasons.

Weather- The daily state of the atmosphere in any given place. Wind, rain, clouds, sun etc.

Thermometer- A tool used to measure the temperature


Option #1: With Soil

Option #2: Without Soil


Activity Procedure:


Feel the soil you are standing/sitting on. What does it feel like? Is it hot or cold? Do you think the plants care what temperature it is? Just like us, plants don’t like it too hot, or too cold!


Have students walk around the garden to take the temperature of the soil. Use a soil thermometer or meat thermometer and place it in different areas (sunny, shady, etc). First, have students feel the soil with their hands and see if they can compare the temperatures in different areas. Then read the thermometer to see if they are correct. Record the different temperatures.


Draw the above chart on the board to show students that plants have a range of temperatures that is their happy medium. Just like us they do best when it is not too hot and not too cold. Compare the temperatures you took in the garden with the chart. Is our garden a good temperature for plants to be growing in? Which of these temperature ranges was our garden? Call on a student to circle the temperature range on the board. What months do you think our soil temperature will be the coldest?

Think, Pair, Share: What is a way that we can help the soil stay warmer in the winter to improve plant growth?

Greenhouses are one option. A greenhouse is a structure you put over the soil made of clear material (usually glass or plastic) that allows light to come in and warm the air up inside, but keeps the air from going back outside.

Thumbs up/down: Have you ever stayed inside a car parked in the sun and noticed that it was hotter inside the car than it was outside?

That is because of the greenhouse effect! Use this opportunity to define a few of the vocabulary words! Educators choice.


Option #1: With Soil

  1. Review Garden Agreements and steps to making greenhouse prototype
  2. Show students the greenhouse prototype they will be making.
  3. Hand out mini pots to students and have them fill their pot with potting soil. (you can either break students into groups and have one mini greenhouse per group or provide each student with the materials).
  4. Demonstrate how we will be planting a seed in the pot. (Poke a hole with your finger, as deep as the seed needs to be in order to germinate)
  5. Supply each group or individual with a seed and baggie.
  6. A student in each group can fill a cup at the sink and water their plants. Or, you can walk around to each individual and use a watering can to water their seeds.
  7. Use tape and sharpie to label their greenhouse with their group name, table number, or individual names. You will need to do this yourself for the little kids - it’s helpful to have the teacher and any adults help you with the labeling to make it go faster.
  8. Work with the teacher to find a suitable, well-lit place to set the greenhouses.
  9. Have students record changes on their Greenhouse Tracking Sheet

Option #2: Without soil

  1. Review Garden Agreements
  2. Show students the greenhouse prototype they will be making.
  3. Have students spend a few minutes decorating their mini greenhouses.
  4. Pass out a seed, damp cotton-ball/paper towel and a baggie to each student. Remember, the bigger the seed the better!
  5. Instruct the students to fold the paper towel/cotton ball over their seed and stick it in their baggie.
  6. By enlisting help from the teacher, walk around to each student and help them attach the baggie to their greenhouse via tape or staples. Do not entirely seal the bag as air will need to enter.
  7. Work with the teacher to find a suitable, well-lit place to hang the greenhouses. They can be taped to a window or strung with string!


Do you think our mini greenhouses will work as big as larger ones? Why/why not. Do you think glass would be a better material for building greenhouses? What are some of the pros and cons of each material? Do you think our plants will grow faster in the greenhouses than they would outside of them? If we wanted to do an experiment to test this, what would we need to do?

Extension Activities:

Gardens Change Lives!                                                          Page  of