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Growing Tag

Students play a variation of chain tag that demonstrates that a plant needs water, minerals, carbon dioxide and sunlight to grow. 

Unlike animals, plants make their own food, using a process called photosynthesis.

To thrive, plants require:

  • water (with minerals)
  • carbon dioxide
  • sunlight.

Using special parts on their leaves, they absorb carbon dioxide and sunlight (during the day), and using their roots and a process called capillary action, they absorb water and minerals. 

During photosynthesis, the plant uses energy from sunlight to take the hydrogen from a water molecule and add the carbon dioxide, to produce a sugar (also called a carbohydrate). Plants use these sugars to grow and produce structures like more roots, stems, leaves and fruit that we eat. 


  • Explain what a plant needs to grow.


  • Per Class:
    bandanas or pinnies in four colours
    large, open space (gym or field)

Key Questions

  • What molecules does a plant need in order to grow?
  • Why can’t the plant just take whatever molecules they come by?
  • Why does it have to be a specific balance of each type?I
  • In this game, the plants run around to find these molecules. How do real plants get these molecules?

What To Do

  1. Select four students to be Plants.
  2. Split the remaining students into three groups: Sunlight, Water and CO2. Identify each group with a colour of bandana or pinny.
  3. Everyone spreads out around the game space. Sunlight, Water and CO2 cannot move until they are tagged, but Plants can move around.
  4. Plants are “it,” and race to tag, in this order: A. Sunlight, B. Water and C. CO2, who link arms with the end of the chain and move around with the plant.
  5. After creating a chain of four, they are a larger plant, and can begin again at Sunlight, then Water, then CO2, to grow even larger.
  6. The biggest Plant (chain with the most students) wins.


  • Flip the game play to have the Plants “rooted” in one spot (they can pivot) and the Sunlight, Water and CO2 running around. The Plant tags what passes by them to form a chain. The end of the chain then can move around to tag the next molecule. (The longer the chain grows, the larger their reach.)