MIsprouts Learn: What is Photosynthesis?

by Halley -Author at MIGardener

Written by - Kaitlynn from MIgardener

My goal with this series is to make accessible material for parents who want to teach their kids about gardening from the ground up. These guides will consist of a short reading section about a gardening subject, followed by ideas for projects and experiments that can be performed at home to make the concepts more concrete for the kiddos! I hope they can be a source of fun for you and your family.  

Read aloud: Everything that lives needs to have energy to grow. Humans and animals get their energy from eating food and drinking water. Did you know that plants have a special way of making energy? The word scientists use for plants making their energy is called photosynthesis.

Woah. That's a cool word. Let's break that one down a little bit more:

photo = light

synthesis = to put together 

Can you guess how photosynthesis works from its name? Write down your idea and check if you were right after reading the lesson.

Five tools for photosynthesis: 

1. Light Energy

Every ray of sunshine is filled with tiny pockets of energy. Sunshine energy gets absorbed by lots of things, and plants need this light energy to power up the process of photosynthesis. When a plant gets put in a place where the sunshine is just right, it soaks up the light energy through the leaves and sends it to the rest of the plant. The most important part of the plant for photosynthesis is the leaves.



2. Chlorophyll

Ever wondered why leaves are green? The leaves are the most important part of the plant because photosynthesis happens inside tiny green pockets in every leaf. Chloroplasts are the tiny green pockets, and chlorophyll is the name of the green color inside of them. We'll call them Phyll for short. When the light shines onto a leaf, it is Phyll's job to capture the light energy and transport it to the rest of the plant.



3. Carbon Dioxide

Once Phyll takes the light energy to the rest of the plant, he has to collect a meeting with water from the ground and a fancy kind of air called carbon dioxide. Carbon Dioxide is the type of air humans (like you and me) exhale every time we breathe. Plants open up their noses (stomata) and breathe in Carbon dioxide. This is the last ingredient needed for the plant to make two things: sugar and oxygen. The sugar (glucose) stays inside the plant to keep it healthy and strong. The oxygen is let out back into the air out into the world for people and animals to breathe!


Project: Coloring Photosynthesis

You'll Need:

Free Printable PDF Sheets -click here


Colorful Paper or Crayons


A marker for writing

Because the process of photosynthesis can get a little complicated for little ones, this visual can be very helpful! Follow the instructions for this project here, or click the link for more info. Use the printable as a template for cutting it out of the colorful paper, then glue all the shapes on to a large colorful piece of paper. Finally, glue the tags to each relevant spot. For the best results, do the projects with your kids! Explain photosynthesis with every step.

This is an easy hands-on project for any age group. For more options for crafts and experiments for this lesson, follow our MIsprouts Pinterest page.

Projects recommended for:

Ages 3-5: Chlorophyll Painting | Art Project

All Ages: How Does A Plant Breathe? | Experiment

Ages 6+: Photosynthesis Relay Race | Game


I hope this post was helpful! Please leave me some feedback in the comments on Facebook to let me know if any changes can be made to posts like these in the future!

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Main sources:

SciShow Kids

Crash Course Kids

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