Peas, Please!

Activities Integrating Math and Science
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Experiment/Lab Activity , Lesson/Lesson Plan
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.


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Students learn about the life cycle of pea plants by planting peas and observing their through their stages of development. Students write and illustrate a book about their pea plant life cycle experience, which functions as a student model to be shared and discussed. Students use the investigation as evidence that life cycles are repeating patterns. Note: This lesson should begin no later than February or early March to be completed before the school year ends given the peas 50-70 day life cycle.


Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Upper Elementary
Access Restrictions

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Performance Expectations

3-LS1-1 Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.

Clarification Statement: Changes organisms go through during their life form a pattern.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment of plant life cycles is limited to those of flowering plants. Assessment does not include details of human reproduction.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This resource leads students through the life cycle of a pea plant, having them construct a book of illustrated observations that serves as a life cycle model, but does not offer opportunity to compare/contrast other animals or plants life cycles to explore how they differ. To more fully address the Performance Expectation, the teacher should provide opportunity to explore other plants and animals (through direct observation or media) as the pea plant goes through each phase of its life cycle, and then ask the students to examine how the plant or animal’s life cycle is the same or different.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The books students generate as they observe each stage of the pea life cycle are models. To best meet the expectation that students use the model to describe phenomena, be sure that students conclude their life cycle book describing how the pea plant life cycle can start again with seeds grown from their now mature pea plant, referencing back to the first page of their book. Encouraging students to demonstrate features of their pea plant and its life cycle using craft supplies such as fabric or pipe cleaners that can be glued into the book is recommended.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource was not designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
While this lesson demonstrates pea plants go through a life cycle, at no point does it have students discuss or argue whether this is necessary for its continued existence. Therefore, teachers should include this conversation, possibly by offering "what if?" scenarios meant to get students wondering and sharing about whether new peas could form if say the plant did not produce new pea seeds or if all the pea seeds were eaten. Other types of plants and animals and their life cycles need to be explored with students to fully address this Disciplinary Core Idea. Suggested organisms that might be easy to incorporate into the classroom are butterflies, ladybugs, lima beans or other native organism easily observed inside or outside the classroom.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
After examining the life cycle of the pea plant and another simple life cycle, such as the butterfly or ladybug, the students should be able to identify a simple repeated pattern of birth, development, reproduction and death in the life cycles of plants and animals.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This activity provides students with the opportunity to work collaboratively while gathering observations and constructing models of the pea plant's life cycle. It provides a vehicle for students to use their models to demonstrate their understanding of the stages of plant growth and to gather evidence for the idea of life cycles as repeating patterns visible through all forms of life.

  • Instructional Supports: This resource does not give any enrichment/remediation strategies for differentiation, but it does have wonderful pictures for each step of the planting guide that would be helpful to lower level readers or ELL students. Advanced learners could be asked to read a book about the pea life cycle, (such as "How Peas Grow" by Joanne Mattern), and research answers to some of the ‘wonders’ that students generate as the pea plants grow and develop.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The activity does have a pre-assessment (asking the students to come up with the stages of the life cycle of a pea) and it is easy to monitor student learning through class discussions and the book that the students create. A rubric to evaluate the student books would strengthen this area of the activity.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: Technology is not included in this resource.