Identifying Plant Family Characteristics


Activity Description: 

In this botany field activity, students make observations of the similarities and differences between three types of garden plants (cucumber, pumpkin, and melon) to determine why they are grouped together in one plant family. Students will record their observations in a journal and use these to make predictions of the plant family's defining characteristics.


This activity is designed for students to discover how making observations of the environment is the key to making sound predictions. Students will also learn how both positive and negative outcomes of these predictions can affect and shape future decisions. This is a beginning of the year activity when the garden is in full harvest, and two additional concepts will be to practice good stewardship while observing and to show respectful sharing of the space with others. Vocabulary focus of this lesson: characteristic, stewardship, respect, observe.

Educational Standards: differences in observations lead to more observation

  • Garden or planting box with cucumber, pumpkin, and melon plants
  • Journals for student observations
Long-term activity
Kate Olson, SERC at Carlton College