As a seed germinates and grows, it is hard for children to understand what goes on beneath that mystic cover of soil. Of course you can sprout bean seeds in a plastic bag (just drop in a wet paper towel and presoaked bean seed, seal ‘er up and watch it open up over the course of a few days). That’s a great staple among preschool activities, but if you also want to watch the development of the seed into a plant with a root system, you might want to try this idea.
Here are the ingredients:
Seeds (I’m trying radishes and carrots right now.)
An empty, clear, plastic container with plenty of depth for the seed you will be planting. (I used a Costco-sized salsa container for the radishes, and a deeper 2-liter bottle for my carrots.)
Cut the tops of the containers off so that you have a level opening. (I wrapped the edges with duct tape after that, just because they were a little sharp.) Poke a few holes in the bottom to help with drainage. Have your little ones help you fill the containers with soil and water it well. Plant your seeds to the depth recommended on the seed package, trying to get the seeds fairly close to the edges of the container. Water well again, and place in a sunny spot. Keep it watered and watch each day for signs of life, both above and below ground.
I am trying radish and carrot seeds right now, hoping you will be able to view the entire vegetable below ground. So far, we have plants, and visible roots! I’m not a professional photographer, but I hope you can see some of the roots in this picture:
This activity, particularly with radish and carrot seeds would be great to combine with the Caldecott book, Tops and Bottoms, by Janet Stevens. Of course, there are plenty of other books you could use with this activity for a great literacy experience. The classic book, The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss is another one that comes to mind.
Planting seeds and observing their growth is a fantastic life science activity for preschoolers. They learn about needs of plants as living things, as well as a little more about their life cycle and physical components. This activity is sure to introduce more observations and questions to your preschool plant unit!
For more Seeds & Plants activities, click here.