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Earth Day Fun: How to Sprout Seeds In Your Home

Your kids will love this activity, which takes only a few ingredients and a good dose of imagination

By Rachel McMinn April 21, 2020

Bringing nature into your home is a valuable learning experience for your child. Helping a tiny seed to sprout and grow is an experience that imparts empathy, self-sufficiency, connection to the earth, and the ability to recognize a life cycle. It's also a great way to mark Earth Day on April 22.

This project is a beginner level and has a very big success rate (we do this in our classroom of 2 -year-olds each spring). Even those with a black thumb will find their little seed growing in just a few days right before their eyes. 

What do you need? 

  • Seeds! Each bag should have 3 or 4 dry beans (pinto, navy, kidney, jumbo lima beans all work!).
  • A sandwich or quart-size clear plastic bag
  • A paper towel
  • A small cup of water

Directions:

  1. Read! Before planting, we like to read the book "Jack and the Beanstalk." Then our bean seeds take on a new level of magic and amazement as they grow. 
  2. After the story, fold the paper towel into a square (so it's 1/4 of the normal size). 
  3. Place a few beans in the fold and tuck them in like they are wearing a blanket. The beans are sleeping, after all, and we need a cozy bed and water to wake them up!
  4. Carefully place the "bed" into the bag. 
  5. Pour in a little bit of water to saturate the paper towel. You don't want a puddle in there, so if your child over pours, simply tip the bag and pour the extra water out. Seal the bag. 
  6. Hang the bag in a sunny window with a piece of tape. 
  7. After a few days, you should see some growth happening!

When the beanstalk gets large enough that it's near the top of the bag, open it up and let it keep growing. When you get to this point, you will need to add more water regularly for the bean to continue growing. 

Now that your bean is big and strong, you can plant it in a pot with soil and continue to love and care for it. 

Want to experiment? Instead of, or along with your beans, "plant" seeds from fruits and vegetables in your own home! You can sprout apple, lemon, pepper, or orange seeds, for instance. Be aware some of these seeds will take longer to sprout!

Rachel McMinn is an early childhood educator at Buckle My Shoe Preschool in Tribeca. This story originally appeared in Macaroni Kid Lower Manhattan - Downtown, N.Y.

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