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A seed is placed in the ground and water is added. Like magic, a seedling appears. Teach kids about germination and you’re teaching them a whole lot more.
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.
How to teach kids about germination
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.
Germination of a seed for kids
This is a fairly complicated process and hard for me to grasp as an adult. Can you imagine the difficulty as we teach kids about germination? 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:
Process of germination of seeds for kids
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 ziplock 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.
Germination for kids
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. This really helps teach kids about germination.
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 ziplock bag works just as well. You could also germinate seeds in a small pot, a cup, or a slice of luffa sponge.
Explain the stages of germination
It’s an amazing process to watch! I have learned so much from this activity. It’s a hands-on way to learn. 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 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!
Do you want to grow food with kids, but you’re not sure where to start in growing? Check out what I’ve learned about how to do it.
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