I just wanted to share some photos from the experiment we did after reading The Empty Pot (details on the experiment here). I used pea seeds since they’re nice and large…..and because I already had them on hand, seeing as how I’m way behind on actually getting them in the ground. Here’s the difference between the two samples after about a week’s time.
The uncooked specimen. Sprouting roots and green leaves. Have the children gently tug at the tiny sprouts and feel how the roots hold on to the paper towel. Then talk about the role of roots as they hold plants in the ground so they don’t blow away, in addition to their job of seeking out water to suck up into the plant.
The cooked guys. They’re much better in person! A bit squishy and slimy, and they even smell a little bit. As I mentioned in that original post, the first time I tried this, I apparently didn’t cook the seeds long enough, because they still sprouted! This year, I cooked them for a very long time in a glass measuring cup full of water in the microwave. I made sure it was boiling and then added a few more minutes.
Talk it out. As you examine the seeds each day, perhaps during your circle time or large group time, you can review the story, thereby increasing comprehension. (Page through the book and have the children describe what happened…..and what happened next.) Another day, as you check progress, you can review the scientific process that you followed for this seed experiment. (We wanted to see if a cooked seed would really grow. So we tried sprouting regular seeds and cooked seeds so we can compare how they grow. Let’s look very closely now and see what we can observe. What do you think? Are they the same or different? What do you see that is different?) You could also just very quickly point out the picture cues on each bag to reinforce symbolic writing. Pull out some magnifying glasses and set them by the baggies so the children can examine them. Every day that you examine these seeds, you are not only making a scientific discovery, but you can reinforce other concepts as well.
Reread the story again at the end of your experiment and ask the children which seeds Ping had in his pot. This again connects the science concept and to the story, and shows their comprehension of both. Ask the children if seeds can grow if they’ve been cooked. Looking at their experiment they will almost certainly say no. Question – Investigate – Observe – Communicate. You’ve effectively followed the entire scientific process with preschool children! Who says science is too hard?
For more Seeds & Plants activities, click here.
Sarah Baldwin says
I love the story of “The Empty Pot” and told it every year while I was a Waldorf kindergarten teacher. Every year I wondered if a seed really wouldn’t sprout if it had been cooked. How clever of you to try it as an experiment with your class!
I love this story too! It is such a great tale of honesty and courage! Thank you for your comments, Sarah!