Functions and Structures of Plants and Animals

Developed by Kristen Nichols, PCM Play Practicum 2023, Verizon Tech Enhanced 2023
(FOCUS: Grades 3-5, Science Technology, Critical Thinking)

This lesson plan focuses on teaching students about the functions and structures of plants and animals using augmented reality technology.

Students will explore the different parts of plants and animals through interactive 3D models that pop up on their screens. They will learn about how different systems in plants and animals work together to help them survive, and how each part serves a specific function.

The lesson will also incorporate hands-on activities and discussions to reinforce the concepts learned through the use of AR Mergecubes and QR codes.  

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to identify and explain the functions of various structures in plants and animals. 


Materials to gather


  • QR codes in the room assigned to different plants and animals, and Mergecube codes ready to go. 
  • Small pictures of different plants and animals hidden around the room for the Scavenger Hunt at the end. Each group will have to find one plant or animal assigned to them.
  • Google slide of 6 groups with 4-5 students in each
  • Google slide with directions of how groups will rotate, and clear expectations of student roles in the stations ( i.e. holds the iPad/ Chromebook, holds the Mergecube, recorder (records information on group worksheet), reporter (will report out to the class). Jobs rotate at each new station to ensure everyone gets a chance with technology

Set Up

6 stations throughout the room with printed QR codes or Mergecubes, or combination of both (3 plants, 3 animals).

Student’s Job

How do plant and animal structures support growth and survival?

For example: How do the giraffe’s neck, tongue, and long legs give it a survival advantage over shorter animals?

Whole Group

  1. What would happen if a turtle didn’t have a shell? (It would be exposed to predators). What would happen if a leopard didn’t have spots? (it wouldn’t be able to camouflage in trees)
  2. Explain the importance of structures and functions in plants and animals for adaptation and survival; introduce vocabulary
  3. Play video Structure & Function for Kids | Science Lesson for Grades 3-5 | Mini-Clip
  4. Have students brainstorm plants and animals (teacher records list on the board)

Think, Pair, Share

  1. Students think about an animal or plant on the list and think about how its structure helps them adapt or survive
  2. Students share their thoughts with their partner, correcting any misconceptions, and pointing out functions they may have missed
  3. Students share their findings about their plants and animals in small groups 

Station Rotations:

  1. Depending on the number of students in your class you could have 4-6 stations set up, with a sign on each group noting “Station 1” etc, so students know where to go
  2. The teacher goes over the student groups and the rotation order of the stations. Expectations are set for learning and student roles are assigned. For example, Groups 1-6. Group 1 starts at Station 1, Group 2 at Station 2, etc, so when the groups switch they move in numerical order.
  3. Students use the Mergecube at each station to find out which plant or animal is there
  4. Students discuss the plant and animal as a team and record their findings
  5. Students rotate to the next station after 10 minutes. 
  6. Depending on class size, if all stations cannot be completed in the allotted time, it can carry over to the next day
  7. When groups finish all stations they will be given a clue to decipher and go on a scavenger hunt in the classroom to find their camouflaged hidden plant or animal


I like to hop from tree to tree

Eating Eucalyptus leaves

I live in Australia the Land Down Under

To call me a bear would be a blunder

I have a pouch where I keep my Joey

Know what I am? Then Go Go Goey!

Lesson close:

  1. Review what we did today
  2. Have students write an answer to the essential question. “How do plant and animal structures support growth and survival? “
  3. Students write down any questions they would like answered or to further explore

Further Challenges:

How can the structures and functions of plants and animals help us solve human problems?

Teacher’s Job

Standards Alignment

RICCSS – Rhode Island Common Core State Standards

4-LS1-1: Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction. 

 4-LS1-2: Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways. 

K-5-LS1-A-1: Plants and animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions in growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction. (4-LS1-1)

Prepare/ Background Info
  • This is an introduction lesson in Science on Structures and Functions. Students have prior knowledge of animals and plants in their K-3 studies.
Effective Facilitation Strategies
  • Through questioning, discussion, video, and think pair share the teacher introduces the concept of plant and animal structures and their functions, and then initiates an Augmented Reality (AR) Station Exploration Rotation in the classroom
  • Using an AR app, students will find and identify different virtual plants and animals, noting down their structures and hypothesizing their possible functions.
  • Explain the Plant and Animal AR Station Exploration Stations. This will include going around the room to designated areas to explore virtual plants and animals through the AR app. 
  • Guide students on how to use the AR app effectively. This should include information on how they are going to find and identify virtual plants and animals. 
  • Instruct students to not only identify different plants and animals but also to take note of what structures have and how they help them adapt or survive.
  • Encourage students to think critically  and remain curious throughout the activity. They should write down any observations they have and questions they have or would like answered.
Play to Notice (Learning Framework)
  • Students’ interaction and manipulation with the Mergecubes, and iPads
  • Students’ overall level of excitement, curiosity, and movement through the stations. Are they engaged?
Content Matter to Notice
  • Are students identifying structures and explaining their functions?
SEL to Notice
  • Interactions with each other
  • Inclusion of all
  • Languages used/ code-switching
  • Turn taking
  • Emotional regulation


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