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Do You See What I See?
Task with Student Directions

2nd Grade Performance Task
Developed for Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)
Authors: Betty Crocker, Janette Fentress, Virginia Malone, Theresa Weeks


Students will observe a terrarium to brainstorm and explain the role of rocks, soil, and water in the terrarium.


  • Classroom terrarium
  • Water Journal for each student
  • KWL Chart for collecting student ideas
  • What I Know...What I Want to Know...What I Learned

Time Frame:

1 (20-30 minute) class period


  1. Display a terrarium and have students make observations.

  2. Create a KWL chart using the terrarium and answer the question "What do you know?" Ask questions such as "What are some things you notice about this terrarium?" Students responses may include "It has plants in it. It has a lid or is closed. It has water on the side. It has dirt or soil."...

  3. Guide the students into "What do you want to know?" by asking "What are some things you want to know about the terrarium that you can't observe?" Anticipated responses may include "How long have you had it? How long will it live? Will we have to open it to water the plants? Where did the water on the side come from? What will happen if...?" Record teacher questions as well as student questions.

  4. Create a Water Journal. Title the first page "The Class Terrarium" and list questions about the terrarium they want answered.

  5. Have students described the reasons the rocks, soil, and water are needed in the terrarium. Pose questions such as "Do we need all three resources? What would happen if we leave one out?"

  6. Take the class on a nature walk around the school yard and compare the school yard to the terrarium. Ask about the role rocks, soil, and water play in the school yard. Record the examples and additional questions that arise during the walk to the KWL chart and the Water Journals.

    Teacher Talk: Oats can be compared to other grains.

    Formative Assessment

    Students record in their Water Journal ways their school yard is like a terrarium and ways their school yard is different from a terrarium. Assist students who may need further help by having the students draw and label the terrarium and the school yard.

  7. Have the students identify the basic needs of the plants such as sunlight, water, air, and nutrients. Ask how these needs are met in the school yard. Focus attention to water and the various forms it takes on in the natural world (ice, snow, rain).


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