Children love growing things. They love to explore the outdoors and all the wonders the natural world possesses. The prospect of bringing a child into your well ordered garden might dismay you. However, I would encourage you to take the risk. There are few things that will make a greater lasting impression on a child than meaningful experiences with the natural processes involved in nurturing growing things. They will gain a respect for life, a curiosity about the world around them, and encouragement in the area of science. The garden is a wonderful playground that has a million lessons to teach. We will begin our exploration with the discovery of the mystery of the seed.
The seed racks are once again in the stores and it is a simple thing to pick out a pack of green bean seeds. We talk about what a seed needs to germinate, water, warmth, and in some cases sunlight. I ask her why we wait until spring to plant our garden. She suggests that the seeds can not grow through the snow. I ask her why the snow would stop a seed from growing. She says its too cold. Now we have something to investigate!
1. Gather your supplies:
You will need at least 3 zip lock baggies. A packet of bean seeds. Several paper napkins or towels.
2. Discuss what places around your house are different temperatures.
Possible locations are: the refrigerator, the pantry, the laundry room, the garage, the shed, under a pot in the garden, a drawer in their bedroom, etc. Pick three that your child feels are very different temperatures. If it is winter I would encourage a child to consider at least one spot indoors!
3. Assemble your baggies. Wet the paper towel and fold it with 3 or 4 bean seeds inside. Place the wet paper towel with its seeds inside the baggie and seal it.
4. If you have a thermometer take an initial temp reading at each location and place your baggie in a dark spot. Make sure to record where each baggie is located. the temperature, and the date.
5. Make a prediction about which seed will germinate first. Be sure to record your predictions. You may want to take a moment and create a chart for your observations and a graph to record your results.
6. Take a moment to record the temperatures and open the baggies to observe your seeds each day.
7. After about a week you should see some growth from at least one of your baggies. After about 3 weeks you will be able to tell what temperatures where best for germination. Take a moment to discuss what your child learned. Do not be surprised if your child wants to plant their germinated seeds in a pot in the house. Who knows you might even have your bean plants flower!
- Grow a seed on a paper towel inside a cd case. If you remove one edge you can water your seed and observe the growth of the roots!
- Repeat the experiment with three different types of seeds. Consider trying an early spring veggie like spinach, a warm weather veggie like a tomato seed, seed that can take very cold temps like a pea seed, and a sunflower seed.
- Try planting seeds at different depths in your garden. Use the seed packet recommendations for at least one group and then see how much depth effects germination rates.