Photosynthesis for Kids: Lesson and Printables

Plants are unique organisms because they are one of only three life forms able to produce their own food. The only other organisms capable of this are algae and some bacteria. This unit introduces kids ages 9 to 12 to the process of photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis for Kids: Lesson and Printables

Learn more about plant life with these fun printable activities!

What is photosynthesis?

Photosynthesis is the way in which plants make their own food. Plants need four things to accomplish it.

The first is sunlight. All plants on earth convert sunlight into food. Sunlight is a form of energy that the plant changes into another form of energy that the plant can use to live.

The second is water. Plants absorb water through their roots, and sometimes through their leaves. Water is not only part of the photosynthesis process, but it helps the plant to grow and stay upright!

The third thing plants need is carbon dioxide. Plants “breathe in” carbon dioxide through tiny pores in their leaves. These pores are called stomata. And they “exhale” oxygen. This is one of the reasons why plants, and especially trees, are so important to our planet. They produce the air we need to breathe and survive… and they use the “waste” air that we produce for their own survival.

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Kristian Peters — Fabelfroh / CC BY-SA

And the last thing plants need is chlorophyll. This is a pigment inside the chloroplast organelles found inside the plant’s cells. Chlorophyll is responsible for absorbing light for photosynthesis. But it also gives plants their green color because it reflects green wavelengths in white light.

How does photosynthesis work?

Plants absorb water and minerals from their roots. They also absorb carbon dioxide. These three mix together in the plant to form a substance called raw sap. The plant then uses its chlorophyll to absorb sunlight and takes the energy from the sunlight and converts it into a different type of stored energy.

Plants then take this stored energy and use it to turn the raw sap into glucose, a type of sugar. This new sugar is called elaborated sap. It flows through the plant and provides food for the cells so that the plant can grow and reproduce. Sometimes plants store any extra elaborated sap in their roots and fruits, which is what makes sweet potatoes and strawberries so yummy!

Why is photosynthesis important?

Photosynthesis is critical to life on this planet for two reasons. The first reason is that plants are producers. This means that they produce their own food using sunlight. And producers are at the bottom of the food chain.

All other life forms are either consumers or decomposers. Consumers may eat producers (such as rabbits) or other consumers (such as eagles) or both (such as bears). Decomposers break down dead plants or animals. Earthworms and fungi are examples of decomposers.

Either way, all life is dependent on plants. And plants can only exist thanks to photosynthesis.

The second reason is that during the process of photosynthesis, plants clean our air by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. They help sustain our planet and make it possible for most life forms to exist.

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©Arthur Gamsa

Activities for learning about photosynthesis for kids

Here are some of our printable resources for helping your child learn more about photosynthesis.

Activity #1: As mentioned, one of the reasons that photosynthesis is so important to all life on earth, is that it is found at the bottom of all food chains and food webs. Producers rely on photosynthesis to create their own food. Print our Food Chain activity sheet and cut out the life forms. Then choose a few to create your own food chain. Be sure to label the producers, consumers, and decomposers!

Activity #2: We’ve described the process that a plant goes through to produce its own food. Print our Photosynthesis Process worksheet and label the steps that take place during photosynthesis.

Activity #3: Be a scientist and explore photosynthesis with an experiment. Download our Photosynthesis Experiment pages and follow the directions. Use whatever materials you can find at home.

Inspired to get more hands-on learning with plants? Turn this unit into a bigger lesson with this guide to starting a garden at your school!

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About the author

Monica Olivera is a homeschooling mother of two and a freelance education writer. Her site, Mommy Maestra, helps Hispanic parents get more involved in their children's education by providing resources, tips, and opportunities.

View all articles by Monica Olivera

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