Plant Life: Study Action Areas


Each of the nine MAC themes is divided into four study action areas. This page sets out specimen content for the study action areas that form part of the Plant Life theme.

The four study action areas in this theme are:

  1. All about plants
  2. The importance of plants to human life
  3. Threats to plant habitats
  4. Living sustainably

This page also includes the following:

MAC brings together disparate National Curriculum materials and adds important material, aiming to organise children’s learning in a focused and determined way.

There is no suggestion that the content set out below is in any sense definitive. It is intended merely for discussion and debate, a starting point for the detailed programmes of learning that will be required for each year group.

Plant life is given its own priority in the Merged Action Curriculum to raise the importance of plant life in the balance of life. The domain focuses on the value of plants to human life and aims to increase children’s respect for — and sensitivity to — plant life as central to the survival of humankind.

Children develop their scientific and geographical knowledge and skills in their learning as outlined in The National Curriculum for England, Key Stages 1 & 2.

Study Action Area 1: All about plants

Children learn to appreciate plant life by exploring the richness of plant life, their main characteristics, the variety of habitats within which plants grow and their life cycle relationship to seasonal changes.

Specimen content:

  • Biodiversity: Recognise the richness of plant life locally and globally
  • Characteristics: Describe the characteristics of what makes a plant a plant
  • Survival: Relate the structure of flowering plants to what plants need to survive
  • The four seasons: Know what grows when and how habitats change with the seasons
  • Reproduction: Explore the life cycle of plants: seeds, bulbs, annuals, perennials and pollination.
  • The neighbourhood: Know what plants grow in the locality
  • Habitats: Explore how different plants grow in different habitats locally and globally

Study Action Area 2: The importance of plants to human life

Children experience plants in their lives through practical activity and put their experience into the wider context of how plants are grown to meet the human demand for food.

Specimen content:

  • Interest: Explore why people tend a garden or allotment, enter competitions, keep plants in the house and buy flowers
  • Experience: Discover what plants need in order to grow through the care and nurture of plants
  • Importance: Know the importance of plants in the lives of humans – food, oxygen, water, habitat, medicine, climate
  • Crop growing: Describe the different ways in which crops are grown
  • The plant industry: Explore the impact of all-year-round fresh fruit and vegetables in the shops

Study Action Area 3: Threats to plant habitats

Children learn the impact caused to plants and the environment through human mismanagement of the environment.

Specimen content:

  • Urbanisation: Know what urbanisation is (coverage of the land by housing, factories, roads, concrete and tarmac) and relate the knowledge to their own homes, school and neighbourhood.
  • Pollution: Know how soil, water and air pollution from industrial and domestic waste affects plants.
  • Habitat degradation: Collect examples of habitat degradation of farm land such as clearance of hedgerows, loss of meadows and hedgerow diversity in Britain; name examples of global deforestation, wholesale erosion, desertification, water misuse and flash floods
  • Farming methods: Discuss how farming methods harm the environment such as use of insecticides and selective weed killers and of chemical leakage into the ecosystem
  • Seed selection: Have an opinion about the selective use of seeds and GM seeds used for crop growing.

Study Action Area 4: Living sustainably

Children experience actions humans take to live sustainably in their locality and explore ways in which humans are living sustainably in Britain and globally.

Specimen content:

  • Appliance of science: Find our about ways to farm sustainably, such as organic farming and hydroponics
  • Seed banks: Know the work that national and international organisations carry out in the preservation of the seeds of different varieties of the same food, such as apples
  • Habitat preservation: Give examples locally and nationally of nature reserves and ecologically planned parks. Visit these to find out what is there and how the environment is helped; find out what is meant by protection of wet lands and tropical forests; managed use of water
  • Soil preservation: Know ways in which the soil in the ground is looked after by farmers, for example, rotating crops, inter-cropping, growing trees and shrubs around crops, minimum tilling and minimizing use of nutrient additives to the soil

Teaching notes

Children acquire positive habits to living sustainably through experiencing practical ways of living sustainably and habits they can take into their adult lives with the purpose of contributing towards greater sustainability of plant and plant environments across the nation.

This might involve things such as:

  • Create biodiversity: Keep a wildlife corner in the school grounds or home garden
  • Make field trips: Carry out surveys of what wild plants grows in the neighbourhood and school grounds, visit nature reserves, observe how the countryside (the city) around is used
  • Investigate: Use online resource activity sources to apply investigative science techniques in practical ways.
  • Eat local produce: Select local produce from the supermarkets, eat seasonally.
  • Have an opinion: Explore your attitude towards plants. Key question: How do we feed everyone and look after the plant environment at the same time? Remember: Don’t swallow everything you are told about plants and managing plants!

Further information

Websites contributing ideas and information to the action areas are listed on the links page.

[Back to top of page]