Watching seeds grow into plants is exciting for young children, and summer is the perfect time to do it! Gardening of any kind can bolster children’s language, math, and science skills. Follow the steps below, and plant seedlings with your children and watch them grow.
- A container: egg carton or a plastic milk, water, or soda bottle cut in half
- Packet of seeds (bean, zinnia, and marigold seeds germinate quickly)
- Potting soil (small bag; can be found in most supermarkets)
- Scissors or other tool for making small holes
- Calendar, a measuring tape, and paper
- First, show the seeds to your children, and let them touch them. If possible, show them a picture of what the seeds will grow into. Tell them that seeds need three things to grow: food (soil), water, and light (the Sun).
- Next, poke a small hole at the bottom of the container (about the size of your fingertip) for drainage. Each “cup” of an egg carton will need a hole but a much smaller one.
- Place potting soil in the container. Let your children use a finger to poke a hole in the dirt. Seeds should be planted about 2 inches into the soil.
- Space the seeds so they will have room to grow. If you are using an egg carton, just put one seed in each cup. For other containers, try to space them 1½–2 inches apart.
- Keep your soil moist, but not wet, and place the containers where they can receive full sunlight.
NOTE: As an alternative, you may opt to wrap seeds in a damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag (a sandwich bag will do); 7–10 days later, check to see if the seeds have sprouted. Plant the ones that have.
- After the sprouts appear and start to crowd one another, separate them into other containers so they’ll have enough room. If you used an egg carton, you will need to transplant all of them into larger containers.
- Mark on a calendar when you planted the seeds and when the shoots appeared. Measure and note the rate of growth.
Encourage your children to draw pictures of their seedlings as they grow and/or make up stories about them. You can write their dictated stories at the bottom of their pictures or have them tell their stories to the family. They may also want to make a “My Seeds” book to share with the family.
Public Broadcasting Service
“Gardening for Kids” provides suggestions for parents to help their children learn to garden.
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