Invent a Plant

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In this activity, learners construct models of plants that are adapted to living under specific environmental conditions. As they make their models, learners consider what adaptations help plants survive under various natural onditions that can include extreme dryness, high wind, heavy surf, competition from other plants for sunlight, and human impact such as car exhaust along highways with decorative plantings. Doing this activity outdoors with learners makes it easier to introduce them to living plants and their adaptations, but pictures of various plants from books or magazines can be used for reference if the activity is done indoors. This activity can be combined with the "Desert Water Keepers" activity from the same resource.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Action Cards (page 5 and 6 of PDF)
  • thin, aluminum wire soft enough to be cut with scissors
  • scissors
  • floral tape
  • small pieces of styrofoam, lumps of clay or egg carton bases to support "plants"
  • 3-4 pints of plastic film (different colors)
  • stirring sticks (popsicle sticks)
  • plastic film thinner
  • paper towels for cleanup
  • Invent-a-Plant Junk Box containing consturction paper, tissue paper, cotton balls, etc. (optional)
  • leaves, twigs, or other ground litter (optional)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Human Impact
    • Evolution
      • Evidence for Evolution
      • Mechanisms of Evolution
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Regents of the University of California, 1979