Nature’s variety is crazy and awesome. And introducing kids to the wonders of nature is deeply rewarding.
There’s something magical about witnessing seeds sprout. Watching swollen seeds slowly splitting open in a jar, until the first tender ends of shoot and root appear, feels like being initiated into a sacred mystery: the process is usually hidden under a nurturing blanket of soil. And waking up at sunrise, venturing into the dew-damp garden and finding that overnight, a school of young green shoots have popped out of the ground, inspires awe, wonder and excitement, no matter how many times you’ve already seen it happen.
Today we’re exploring one of nature school’s top fun activities for kids: comparing the rates at which different seeds sprout and grow.
If you already have a children’s garden, this intriguing experiment will be wonderfully straightforward. Growing plants for kids will already be on your monthly to-do list. Next time you sow, you can embark on this experiment.
If you’re homeschooling, this project can become a hands-on science lesson. Homeschooled kids can plant seeds in their education garden (either indoors or outdoors), and practice the scientific skills of labelling, diagramming, observation, recording data and drawing informed conclusions.
If you don’t have a kids’ garden, you can easily conduct this kid’s garden school activity in your flower beds, or in pots on the windowsill.
An experiment for kids: how to compare seed growth.
You will need:
An assortment of seeds: bean varieties, squash, pumpkin, peas, carrots, spinach, broccoli, wheat, barley, radishes, sunflowers, lettuce, and so on.
OR, clear jars layered with paper towels or cotton wool. Keep in mind that seeds won’t survive as long in a jar without soil, so the experiment will be briefer, and it won’t be possible to keep track of plants as they grow. However, watching seeds sprout in jars is one of the most intriguing garden activities for toddlers, and is also wonderfully educational.
Paper and stationary for recording data. Or, even better, a seed journal!
A tape measure (smaller kids could use a sturdy strip of carboard that they can mark with the plant height on.)
Optional: an awesome kids’ gardening kit to help with their adventure!
How to do it:
Plant a variety of seeds.
Keep them moist.
Record the sequence in which the seeds come up. The winner gets a sticker-decorated portrait!
If you planted your seeds into soil, nurture the plants as they grow, and measure them twice a week, until they reach full height. Plants that came up later may overtake the early sprouters.
Record the data in seed journals or a notebook. Discuss the factors that influence plant growth and the possible pros and cons of the different shapes that plants develop into.
If you enjoyed this post, you might be inspired by our post on how to grow a snacking garden with your children. Here are some crazy fun plant activities to keep little hands productively busy, and here’s how to inspire your kids to love gardening as much as you do.
Written by Rifke Hill
About the Author
Rifke Hill was raised on the sort of farm your grandparents told tales about – milking cows, gathering eggs, hoeing the soil, and building fires to heat water. She now spends part of her time copywriting online as a freelancer. The rest of it is spent nurturing and teaching her four energetic children, growing vegetables, baking bread, reading voraciously, having coffee with the neighbors, and enjoying the sunny slopes of the smallholding where she lives, in the Garden Route, South Africa.