Saturday, June 16, 2012

Measuring Plants-Corn Unit

Photo of 2 boys by a corn field

Well its June, and our corn plants have been growing so fast since May. Here are some photos for you to compare. This has been a dry spring and early summer, we are inches below where we should be here in the midwest, but the corn in the field next to us is doing extremely well. In fact, the field we chose to measure is the best looking field for miles! 

Baby Boy eating apple by a corn field

As you can see, in May Corban was still taller than the corn, and by mid-June, it is taller than Caleb!

Boy wearing Batman suit next to Corn field

I wanted to update you on how our Corn data collection has been going. Every Tuesday (or close enough) we head out past our mailbox at the end of our lane, walk across the ditch, and find the orange piece of yarn at the base of our stalk. We did this so we would always measure the same plant! 

In May, I enthusiastically described how we would be using legos to measure corn. While the concept is a good one, it didn't work for us! My background in middle and secondary science is proving difficult to translate to the Kindergarten level. Go figure! So I'd like to explain a list of modifications I've made to our data collection process.

First, we are no longer measuring height. My goal is to instill a sense of awe and wonder with how quickly the corn is growing. Learning to take accurate measurements, is no longer my primary goal.

Instead we are counting the number of leaves on our plant. The photo below shows the beauty in how the corn leaves emerge! They are rolled up and unfold as they are pushed out the top! 

Another modification from my original idea, is that we are not measuring multiple plants, only one. Initially I planned on measuring 4 stalks and taking an average. But its difficult enough to get Caleb to head out to the field with me. Counting the leaves of one plant seems to be a good compromise.

I designed a graph to help us record our data. We use stickers to indicate the number of leaves.

The most enthusiasm has come from our predictions. After we record the week's data in our graph, each family member predicts what they think the number of leaves will the following week. Making it a competition has really helped increase the motivation to get into the field!   

I printed the graph off on green cardstock, folded it so we could still see the title, then glued it into our Science composition lab notebook. Each week we add stickers to record the number of leaves we count. Then we also write in our prediction for the following week. 

I've designed several versions of the graph we are using. This will enable you to modify our materials to meet your needs. I've left some of the graphs more generic so you can use them for any plant, not just corn. Maybe you can do a modified version of this unit using house plants, or other plants you have growing in your garden, like flowers or vegetables. This Corn Unit: Graphing download includes graphs for:

  • Measuring height in lego guys
  • Measuring plant height (in inches or centimeters) 
  • Counting the number of leaves
  • Counting the number of ears of corn

Link to Download

We are also reading a number of books and talking about pollination, seeds, germination, soil, and earthworms. I'll be sharing more about that in posts to come.  I've got a number of activities planned, and we should begin our Word Wall (for vocabulary) next week. 

Reality: While I'm excited to have designed, and begun my first homeschooling science unit, I'm sad to admit that Caleb's enthusiasm is not exactly how I imagined it. Its definitely me trying to ramp up the moment, getting him out into the field to count the leaves. Has anyone else had similar experiences when getting started? Please tell me I'm not alone!

Here are the other posts in our Corn Unit Series:


  1. I love the idea! I'm sorry his enthusiasm hasn't matched yours. Happens with me and Cutie Pie a lot. He'll get really excited about something, I'll hop on board and it'll just end there with no further interest from him. Then somewhere down the road he's interested again. I think I'm going to download and keep track of Hubby's garden plants!

    1. Tricia, Thanks for the encouragement. I keep telling myself that no matter his enthusiasm now, you just can't tell the stuff he'll remember as "cool" later. This happens with my classroom students too. They act disinterested, but then you'll hear a group of students talking about it in the hall! Hooked, and Gotcha! So I'm going on faith I'm doing the right thing!

      I'm glad you may use the graphs! :) Enjoy

  2. Remember how excited the high schoolers were to do school work....I deal with lack of enthusiasm every single day with my kids. It helps to remember that even though I want them to be excited, they don't have to be as excited as I am to learn.

    1. Amy, True. But one of the reasons I want to homeschool, is because I want the experience to be different than a classrooom can provide. But I also have to remember, he's young, and attention span is low!

      Thanks for the encouragement!


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