Another idea for extending gardening with children today, with a ‘growing seeds experiment’. The children have planted lots of seeds in our garden and seen plants growing, but so much of the action takes place beneath the soil that we decided we’d take a closer look at germination and see what seeds really look like when they start to grow. Here’s how we conducted our garden investigation.
1. We used bean and pea seeds for our experiment. They’re big sized seeds which makes them easy to handle, and the different shapes make them an interesting contrast. They germinate quickly too, giving the children something interesting to see without having to wait too long.
2. We filled a glass with cotton wool to act as our ‘soil’ and dampened the cotton wool with water. Then we popped our seeds inside, placing them at the edge of the glass so we could get a good view of them as they began to grow.
3. The children decided what they would like to measure and came up with three things: how long it would take some something to start growing, how long before there was a leaf and how long before there was a flower. You can ask the children to guess the answers to each question. This also gives the opportunity to add in some maths to your seed growing experiment, with younger children able to count along a number line to record each day, and older ones recording the results in different styles of tables and graphs. Having two different types of seeds in the experiment lets you compare results.
4. When the seeds begin to grow you can take photos and draw pictures of what you see and there’s lots of opportunity for discussion too. Do the children know the names for the different parts of the plant? Why does the seed need roots and leaves? How does it know to put the root at the bottom and the leaf at the top? What happens if you turn a seed upside down when the root has just begun to grow?
5. We’re recording all our observations in our garden journal, and once the first leaves have appeared we’ll be planting the seeds in some soil so they can get the nutrients they need to grow into health plants.