How to Teach Kids about Amazing Germination!
Germination is an AMAZING process. A seemingly dead, dry seed is placed in the ground and water is added and like magic, a seedling appears. There is not much skill needed to sprout a seed, God does all the work for us in the little miracles He makes for the production of plants.
At Little Sprouts we learn about all the parts of the process of growing food. For kids to become master gardeners in their life time they need to understand how the process works.
We got these cool seeds from our Seeds of the Month club membership so we wanted to get to growing them right away. Seeds of the Month is super cool, you just order your membership and you get a surprise seed order every month for as long as you want to order. They are all heirloom seeds, which we love at Little Sprouts! If you want to check out their membership, click here.
Seeds are alive! Inside of each seed there is an embryo. If the conditions in which the seed are stored are good, the seed will protect the embryo until it is placed in moist soil or water. The seed will actually die if it gets wet before it’s time to plant it, or if it gets too hot. Once the seed is moistened, the embryo comes out of dormancy, and then eats it’s “lunchbox” or the remainder of the seed inside of the seed coat. Kind of like a baby chick consumes the contents of the egg.
Once the seed eats it’s “lunchbox”, it will break through the seed coat and sent a tiny root to anchor the plant in the ground. Once the plant is anchored, the seed will send up a small shoot. That shoot will unfurl two tiny cotyledons or leaves and reach for the sunlight. Once these leaves open up, the seed will send roots downward. Those roots continue to grow until they reach the water and nutrients they need and then the plant will go back to work on leaves. It will produce two more leaves that are true to the plant called true leaves. The plant will then grow from there.
This is a fairly complicated process and hard for me to grasp as an adult. Can you imagine the difficulty in teaching this to children? So what’s a girl to do? There are clear boxes that can be purchased to show kids what goes on under the soil when planting a seed, but they are expensive and I have not had great luck with them in the past. The most inexpensive and easiest way to show the kids what happens is to plant seeds in zip lock bags. Here’s how we do it at Little Sprouts:
Take half of a paper towel and moisten it. Wring it out until it is not dripping wet but more than just damp. Give each child a moist paper towel and a zip lock sandwich bag. Have the children place the paper towel inside the baggie. Next give them three or four large seeds to place in the bag. I use large seeds because they are easy to handle and easy for the kids to see. Beans, corn, squash, or other large seeds work great. Have the children make sure the seeds are touching the paper towel. Next, write each child’s name (or if they are old enough, have them write it) on the baggie and tape them to the window. After a few days you will be able to see a small root begin to grow and you can watch the process the seed goes through under the ground happening inside the baggie.
We used these greenhouses because we happened to have them. Someone gave me a pack of 30 a few years ago and we had 7 left for this activity. A zip lock bag works just as well.
It’s an amazing process to watch! I have learned so much from this activity. It’s hands on. Kids learn so much more from doing than from watching and this is a great activity they can do. I promise you will learn right along with them. Even if you don’t work with kids, I encourage you to try this experiment. Learning what’s happening under the ground will help you understand the process you’re watching in the garden.
This activity is teaching kids life cycle science as well as fine motor skills and observation techniques. Patience is practiced when growing a seed whether it is under the ground in in a clear baggie taped to the window. There is so much that can be learned from a seed. Try growing something with your kids today!