Rooting for Plants!

Children will learn about root plants and how they grow.

Birds Nest

Lesson Objective

The children will be able to identify a root plant and how a root plant can grow without a seed.


What You'll Need

  • Carrots with green tops still attached – 1 per child
  • Magnifying glasses – 1 per child
  • Knife (for adult use)
  • Cutting board
  • Marker
  • Shallow disposable baking pans – 1 for every 4 carrots to be planted
  • Sand – a gallon-sized bag per pan
  • Water
  • Chart paper

What To Do

Note: The carrot tops will take about 1 week to grow.

  1. Give a carrot and magnifying glass to each child.
  2. Activate background knowledge and ask the children to describe the carrot. Record responses.
  3. Discuss that the orange part of the carrot is the root, which grows underground. Explain that the spot on the carrot where the leaves begin to grow is called the growing tip.
  4. Explain you will be planting the carrot and observing its growth.
  5. Cut the green tops off the carrot without cutting into the orange part. Cut the bottom off the carrot, leaving about 1 inch of orange.
  6. Fill the pans with sand and demonstrate how to push the carrot tops into the sand. Allow each child to plant their carrot top.
  7. Place the carrots in a bright window location and water the carrots daily.
  8. Check the carrots daily and discuss what is happening (the new leaves will grow in less than 1 week).

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Talk about how a root plant is different than a seed.
  • Make a prediction about what you think will happen to the carrot tops.
  • Describe what happened to the carrot tops.
  • Were your predictions correct? Why or why not?
  • Explain how the plant was able to grow even though there was no seed. Why do you think the leaves grew back?
  • Describe what we did to help the leaves grow.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Try the same experiment with other vegetables such as beets or radishes.
  • Try placing one pan in a sunny location and another in a dark location. Compare the results.
  • Cut another part off the carrot and plant it. Compare what happens.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Were the children able to talk about how root vegetables grow?
  • Were the children able to explain the difference between the way a root plant grows compared with a seed?
  • Could children explain why the carrot needs water?
  • Could children predict what will happen if the carrots don’t get light?
  • Was each child able to plant their carrot top?


Did You Know?

Carrots are root vegetables that grow different parts over 2 years. The orange part grows during the first year. This is the main root of the plant and the carrot will grow only one main root. Carrots are usually harvested for use before the plant begins to flower. If you keep carrots in your kitchen, they might begin to sprout small white roots along the orange root. You cannot grow more carrots from these roots. 

A carrot does not have seeds inside or on the outside. Carrot seeds come from flowers that are produced on the top of the carrot by a mature plant that has been left in the ground. A mature carrot has a tall stem. The stem produces a cluster of tiny white flowers. The flowers will wither and dry in a bird’s nest type cluster. The carrot seeds are tiny black dots inside the flower cluster. Carrot seeds are very small; there are about 3,000 seeds in a teaspoon. 

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • carrot – a long orange root that people eat as a vegetable.
  • vegetable – a plant or part of a plant that is used for food, such as potato, broccoli, or onion.
  • seed – the small part of a plant with flowers that grows into a new plant.
  • roots – the part of a plant that grows under the ground. Roots take in water and food, and they hold the plant in the soil.
  • orange – having the color that comes from mixing red and yellow substances.
  • predict – to say ahead of time that something will happen.

Lesson Tips

  • This lesson is best taught after presenting the lessons, Planting Seeds and How Plants Drink.
  • You will only need the sand to be deep enough to push the tops into the edge of the sand.
  • Only water the carrot tops enough to keep the sand moist, not wet.


  • The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
  • Carrots Grow Underground by Mari Schuh
  • No Carrots For Harry! by Jean Langerman
  • The Giant Carrot by Jan Peck

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS