Healing Gardens: Lesson Plan

Learn about photosynthesis: the natural process that fuels the living world.

UNC-TV Media

Alignment to NC Essential Standards

6.L.2.1 — Summarize how energy derived from the sun is used by plants to produce sugars (photosynthesis) and is transferred within a food chain or food web (terrestrial and aquatic) from producers to consumers to decomposers.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will summarize how energy derived from the sun is used by plants to produce sugars that are transferred within the food chain or food web from producers to consumers to decomposers.

Essential Vocabulary

  • Photosynthesis
  • Chloroplast
  • Carbon Dioxide


Students will view the PBS Learning Media video Food Chain and then participate in a class discussion that covers the following questions:

  1. Explain why humans are at the top of the food chain. 
  2. Give three examples of producers. 
  3. Give three examples of consumers.
  4. What does a scavenger member of the food chain do?


Students will view the PBS Learning Media video Photosynthesis. They can then work in groups or on their own to answer the following questions:

  1. Do you think that the factory is a good analogy for the process of photosynthesis in plants? 
  2. Why did von Helmont think that plants got their nourishment from soil? 
  3. Why did he eliminate soil as a source of nourishment and focus on water?
  4. What did he measure to find out if the willow plant got its nourishment from soil?
  5. What do you think von Helmont concluded when he measured the change in weight of the plant and the soil?



Students will view the UNC-TV animation Photosynthesis. After viewing, they will work on their own or in teams to uncover the following questions:

  1. In what part of the plant cell does photosynthesis occur? 
  2. According to the video, what does a plant require in order to perform photosynthesis? 
  3. What are two essential products of photosynthesis? 
  4. List the members of the food chain who use the products produced by photosynthesis, from beginning to end.  
  5. (Extra credit) What is the chemical equation for photosynthesis, and what does it describe? 


Students will view the NC Science Now Video Healing Gardens. They can then consider the following questions:

  1. What is horticultural therapy, and how does it differ from medical therapy?
  2. The video states that there is a “symbiotic relationship” between people and plants. 
  3. What do you think that means, in relationship to the subject of therapy? 
  4. How do you feel when you’re outside and surrounded by nature? Is your mood the same as it is when you’re inside?


Students will present a written report or visual presentation that summarizes the process of photosynthesis and its importance to life on earth. The report should include descriptions of:

  • The ingredients needed for photosynthesis 
  • The location of the cell that performs photosynthesis 
  • The products of photosynthesis 
  • The members of the food chain that benefit from photosynthesis