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Expository Writing, Organisms: Life and Growth


K, 1st, 2nd


Science, Biology


60 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, New Jersey


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Plants Without Soil?

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Mar 4, 2024
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This lesson introduces students to the benefits of an aquaponics system, especially in areas where clean soil and water are scarce. 


Step 1 - Inquire: Students answer questions about what plants need to grow and make predictions about what an aquaponics system is.


Step 2 - Investigate: Students learn about aquaponics systems by watching videos and having a discussion.


Step 3 - Inspire: Students set up their aquaponics system in the classroom and create journals for recording predictions and observations.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson creates a collaborative learning environment as students engage with a variety of science and engineering practices.

  • Connections are made between the school garden in NJ and other locations where gardening may be difficult for a variety of environmental reasons.

  • Project-based learning and hands-on activities promote engagement and participation from all learners.

  • This lesson features vocabulary development which broadens student understanding of the concept of aquaponics.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The lesson takes ~60 minutes, but students will continue 10-15 minutes one day a week for recording observations in their digital or paper journals.

  • Students will need a basic understanding of what seeds and plants need to grow and produce food.

  • Additionally, students would benefit from an opportunity to plant seeds in soil and observe the life cycle from seed germination to food production prior to this lesson.


  • If teaching remotely, students can have access to teacher slides and digital resources, including journals to participate from home.

  • This lesson provides opportunities for students to learn about the topic using different modalities including visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile.

  • Groups of students with mixed abilities can collaborate on their journal definitions, predictions, and observations.

  • Teachers can structure the learning around explaining or solving a social or community-based issue.

  • An extension activity can be a salad party. After lettuce grows, students will have the opportunity to pick, wash, and taste their own lettuce.

Scientist Notes

This lesson demonstrates the importance of sustainable agriculture and how gardening without soil can provide positive results. This is a hands-on activity for students to engage in gardening. Aquaculture and hydroponics are discussed in good detail. All the materials featured in the lesson have been verified, and this lesson is recommended for teaching.


This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

Primary Standards

  • Science
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • K-2-ETS1-1. Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • 2-LS2-1. Plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plants need sunlight and water to grow.

Supporting Standards

  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.2.5 Use multimedia; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
    • Writing (K-12)
      • W.2.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).
      • W.2.8 Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
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