Easy Garden Activity for Kids
I realize it may seem strange to be talking about gardening so early in the year. After all, we are still waking up to frosty mornings and drippy days. In the past, my husband and I have put in a summer garden, planting in May and harvesting through September. When fall rolls in, I pop garlic in the ground, clean up the beds, and call it a year.
However, I have recently realized that I am missing out on some prime growing time. The growing season in our temperate Northwest climate could easily stretch from early spring to early winter. In fact, you can do today’s activity without even setting foot outisde.
This even involves those of you who have zero interest in getting your hands dirty and/or no space to make it happen: teach your kids about how and where their food is grown. I am very passionate about this topic. Kids need to know that carrots do not grow in the grocery store and potatoes do not magically appear as french fries in their Happy Meals. I promise I will spare you my “connection to the land” speech if you do this one simple activity with your kids. Deal?
Activity: Watching Seeds Germinate
1. to begin to grow or develop.
2. to develop into a plant or individual, as a seed, spore, or bulb.
3. to put forth shoots; sprout; to come into existence; begin.
Items: tall glass or skinny vase (easy to find at at thrift store if you don’t have one to spare), newspapers, paper towel, seeds, water, and scissors.
Steps: (below) There are dozens of different ways to do this experiment, but I have used this method with fabulous results.
Use one paper towel square to line the inside of the glass. You want it snug against the glass all the way around.
Trim the top of the paper towel down. Crumple up a couple sheets of newspaper. Gently tuck them inside the glass. These will hold the paper towel up.
Add a little bit of water to the bottom of the glass, about 1-2 inches. The paper towels will absorb it and pull it to the top. Make sure the paper towel/seeds never dry out. Your kids can check the glass each day and add water as needed. It’s like owning a hamster without the mess!
Drop a variety of seeds in between the paper towel and the glass. Bean and pumpkin seeds work great because they have nice, sturdy stems, but feel free to experiment with whatever seeds you have. Kids love to compare and contrast the different seeds, and it’s fun to watch the whole process unfold.
Using a pencil or chopstick, spread the seeds apart, if needed. Try to keep seeds out of the water at the bottom of the glass because they will just rot (although I suppose that could be a science lesson in itself). Place the glass in a sunny spot and watch the seeds do their thing.
Depending on the age of your kid(s), the learning opportunities are endless: from seeds and sorting to germination and photosynthesis. Having trouble remembering those grade school botany lessons? Just Google it.
Here’s a sneak peek at the progress of our experiment!
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