Discussion Questions and Activities for Living Sunlight

Discussion Questions

For all students:

  1. What is photosynthesis?
  2. Where do plants get their energy to live and grow?
  3. Where do all animals (including humans!) get their energy to live and grow?
    Using their sunlight-energy, what food do plants make to feed themselves? 5. What do plants breathe in and out? What do animals breathe in and out?

For older students:

  1. What do plants do with the water they suck in through their roots?
  2. Where does ALL the oxygen in our air come from?
  3. Plants use sunlight energy to make sugar. What three elements make up sugar? What holds the elements together in the sugar molecule? Where does the energy come from that holds it together?
  4. What do animals do to sugar so it gives them energy?

For advanced students:

  1. Define and explain the process that takes place during respiration.
  2. Do the same for photosynthesis.
  3. How are the two processes related?

The questions above can help meet Common Core Anchor Standards R.1,2,3,4,7,10; SL.1,2


The two activities below demonstrate how the concepts from Living Sunlight work in real life. Be sure the students understand the question their experiment is trying to answer.

Water, Water (Almost) Everywhere!

Main Question: What do plants need in order to live?

Have students put a pea, bean, or radish seed in each of six paper cups filled with wet soil. Place all six on a sunny windowsill. Wait until all six seeds have sprouted. Keep two containers on the windowsill and continue to moisten the soil. Keep another two on the windowsill but stop watering. Then put the last two containers into a dark closet but keep them watered. Have the children check on the changes they see over the next two weeks and explain why things happened the way they did.

This activity can help meet Common Core Anchor Standards W.7,8; SL.1

Make Your Own Bubbles!

Main Question: What do plants breathe OUT?

Put some Elodea (usually available in pet stores) in a tank or large jar of water. Place it in the sunlight. After a day or two, bubbles should be covering the leaves of the plant. Ask students what they think the bubbles are made of and have them observe what happens to the bubbles. Put the tank or jar in a dark closet for a few days. Then ask students to identify what happened and why. A classic experiment for demonstrating photosynthesis for older students is “The floating disk experiment.” There are many versions of this that can be viewed by searching “photosynthesis + floating disk” online.

This activity can help meet Common Core Anchor Standards W.7,8; SL.1