Watering plants


Learn how to water plants correctly using small watering cans and homemade watering devices.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors
  • School term: Early Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Late Summer
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): English, Science, Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • Recognise that plants need water to grow
  • Be able to water plants carefully
  • Know where and when to water

Essential background information


  • Fill up a bucket or tub trug with water so pupils can refill easily.
  • Decide which beds or plants need watering. Water once a week thoroughly, if it hasn’t rained.
  • If possible, water early in the morning rather than at lunchtimes when the sun is hottest and water will evaporate quickly.


  • Small watering cans 
  • Home made watering devices from milk bottles
  • Bottle top waterers and recycled plastic bottles
  • Water butts, outside tap or buckets filled with water
  • Spade (optional)

Step by step

  1. Fill watering can, bottle top waterer or home made watering device with water.
  2. Choose a bed or area or particular crop that needs watering and stick to this bed to water the area thoroughly.
  3. Show the pupils how to water the soil at the base of the plants, not the leaves, or higher up the plant. Explain that it is the roots of the plants that take up most of the water, they are like ‘underground drinking straws’. Watering the leaves of the plants is not beneficial and can cause scorching, especially on sunny days.
  4. Whilst watering, count slowly to ten before moving along to the next plant, repeating the watering and counting.
  5. If possible dig down with a spade to check if the soil is moist at depth of 10cm below the surface.

Extension Activity

Sink plant pots or upside down bottles with bottoms cut off in the soil next to thirsty plants, such as pumpkins and soft fruit. Group members can direct their watering into these reservoirs and watch the water sink slowly into the soil.

Hints & tips

  • Younger pupils may like to learn the Watering Song:

             1,2,3,4,5, water keeps our plants alive, 
             6,7,8,9,10 to be sure we will do it again, 
             Why do we water so?
             Water helps our plants to grow.
             If we count we’ll get it right, then our plants will be a sight!