Planting Bean Seeds

Plant beans in soil and plastic sandwich bags. Check beans three days later and the following week to see how much they’ve grown.

Materials

  • plastic cups (with hole poked in bottom for drainage)
  • plastic plates to rest the cups on
  • potting soil, without added fertilizer
  • dry kidney or lima beans (NOTE: these must first be soaked overnight)
  • water spray bottles
  • tape
  • plastic wrap
  • paper towels
  • plastic sandwich bags
  • magnifying glasses
  • camera
  • chart labeled “Watch Them Grow”

Key Science Concepts

  • Plants grow from seeds.  
  • Plants need water to grow.

Vocabulary

Encourage children to use the plant words bean, seed, and soil. Emphasize science process words like observe, describe, compare, and predict.

Directions

Tell children that they will be planting two different ways. They will plant some bean seeds in soil and some in a plastic bag without soil.

Planting in Soil

  1. Let each child fill a plastic cup most of the way with potting soil and plant 2–3 beans. Cover the seeds gently with soil. (Plant some additional seeds in a few extra cups, just in case some of the children’s don’t grow.)
  2. Show children how to moisten the soil, using the water spray bottle. Ask, Why do you think we’re putting water on the seeds?
  3. Help children write their names on tape and label their cups. Put plastic wrap over the cups. (The plastic wrap will help the soil stay moist. Remove the plastic when seedlings appear.) Ask, Do you think we will be able to see when the beans first start growing? Why or why not?

Planting in Plastic Bags

  1. Next, tell children that they will plant some beans in clear plastic bags, without soil. Ask, Do you think that the seed will grow in the bag?
  2. Have children fold a paper towel to fit in a plastic sandwich bag. Then have them wet the paper towel and put it in the bag. Place 3–4 beans on the towel and then fold over the top of the bag. Help children label their bags and attach them with tape to a window or a bulletin board.

Documenting Plant Growth

Explain that they will check on the beans in their cups and bags each day. Take photos of children’s planted beans in the cups and bags. Post them on a “Watch Them Grow” chart and label them “Day 1.”

Reflect and Share

Talk about what they think will happen with their planted beans. What do you think is going to happen in the cups? In the bags? Why do you think that? Have children draw pictures of the beans they planted in both the cups and the plastic bags.  

Three Days Later: What Happened? <A head>

Check on the beans you planted. What do you notice?

Materials

  • beans planted in soil and plastic bags
  • magnifying glasses
  • “Watch Them Grow” chart

Key Science Concepts

  • There are many different types of plants and seeds.
  • Plants grow from seeds.  

Vocabulary

Emphasize plant words like seed, roots, sprout, stalk, and leaves, as well as science process words like experiment, test, compare, describe, observe, and predict.

Directions

  1. Gather children and examine the bean seeds in the plastic bags. Ask them what they notice. Have them use the magnifying glasses to get a closer look.
  2. Now look at the beans in the soil, and ask them what they observe. If they don’t see anything, ask them what they think is happening under the soil.
  3. Have children take photos of the beans to add to the “Watch Them Grow” chart, labeling the photos “Day 3.”

Reflect and Share

Ask children to describe what they observe:

  • How have the seeds changed since the last time you looked?
  • Did all of the seeds grow the same amount?  
  • Why do you think it is easier to see plants growing in the plastic bags than in the soil? What do you think might be happening under the soil?
  • What part of the plant seems to be growing first? Why do you think so?

One Week Later: What Happened?

Observe and compare your growing plants.

Materials

  • bean seeds planted last week
  • “Watch Them Grow” chart

Key Science Concepts

  • Plants grow from seeds.
  • Different plants grow from different seeds and bulbs.
  • Plants have different parts: roots, stems, leaves, and fruit. 

Vocabulary

Encourage children to use vocabulary related to plants, such as leaves, stems, roots, and seeds, and science process words such as observe, describe, compare, and predict.

Directions

Tell children they are going to take a closer look at what they’ve grown.

  1. Have children describe the beans growing in the cups and sandwich bags. Say:
    • Look for the plant with the longest root, the hairiest root, the greenest stem.
    • How many bean plants have grown leaves? Find the plant with the biggest leaves. Find the plant with the most leaves.
    • Now that some of the bean plants growing in the cups are above the soil, what do you think it looks like below the soil? Why?
  1. Continue to have children take photos for the “Watch Them Grow” chart, labeling the photos “Day 7.” Have children look at the chart and describe how the beans changed over the last week.
  2. You and your children may want to continue documenting the growth of the plants over the next several weeks. 

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