Photosynthesis: Modeling Activity and Guided Notes Lessons

Grade Levels
4th - 8th
Formats Included
  • PDF
10 pages
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NGSS aligned to give students a hands-on experience modeling the complex process of photosynthesis! It took me several years to find an easy way to teach my 4th - 7th grade students to really understand what was happening during photosynthesis. They needed a hands-on way to see how the leaves were taking molecules of water and carbon dioxide, breaking them apart, and reorganizing to form glucose and oxygen gas. I developed this activity and follow-up notes for 4th-5th graders, but I found my 7th graders really benefitted from the review. You'll also note in the comments below that many teachers have found that even younger students can grasp photosynthesis using this activity!

There is nothing better than that chorus of, "Ohhhh......!" toward the end of the activity that lets you know they "got" it! If your school uses Thinking Maps, these notes easily fit the flow map.

This download contains two lessons:
- 1 hands-on activity wherein students use paper "atoms" to model what goes on in a leaf during photosynthesis. It includes full directions and suggested script. I also provide a cooking analogy that makes the abstract content much easier to understand.
- 1 follow up guided notes lesson where students draw out the steps and write notes for the steps of photosynthesis. I made two versions on the student notes. One copy is blank; students fill in pictures and notes. The other has the information typed; the students need only fill in the pictures.

*The free download shows the completed student notes.

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Total Pages
10 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
2 days
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