Right after we moved to Colorado in late spring or late May, we jumped right on starting a garden. Well for the most part, we jumped on the idea, but it took a couple weeks to actually get things together and get started. Finally the first two weeks of June we started our garden. During this time I thought it would be good if Snug and I learned about the essential part of starting a garden; the seed.
So we spent a week or two or the whole summer really investigating seeds. Here is all we focused on during that first week.
We didn’t get too many books about seeds, for a one main reason, new library system. It took me about a while to learn the new library system and this was the start. I only found four books for this week but know for a fact there are approximately a million more kids fiction and nonfiction books about seeds. A fact!
They were good books, I can only do simple reviews of them. Since we did this theme in June and it is now December.
Seeds and Seedlings by Terry Jennings – This was a great book. I really enjoyed it, it had a ton of great ideas and had a very in-depth look to how seeds work, while still staying age appropriate. Though the recommended age for this book would be late elementary school. It had craft and science ideas and review questions at the end of each small section. Here are some more pictures!
Just fun ideas. Making animals out of seeds, making seed pictures. Which actually Snug and I do that with different kinds of bird seed in the winter. More on that later though.
Science Fun with Peanuts and Popcorn by Rose Wyler, pics by Pat Stewart- This book was great fun too. Though it caused us some trouble. No one sales raw peanuts in CO, well kind of. Not at any of my accessible grocery stores, to me at the time. So we replaced the peanut experiments with kidney beans.
From Seed To Apple by Anita Ganeri – This one was good. Not exactly what we wanted. While it did a very good job covering apple seeds, it focused on the big picture, the complete life cycle of the seed. Which is great, but not what we wanted for this week.
From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer- Not bad either. Again, like the apple story it covered the whole life cycle of a pumpkin seed, only in more of a story format. We enjoyed this book and it did help to reinforce the idea of seeds growing to make the garden.
Activity 1– Different seeds, outside the house!
The first thing we did was to go on a nature walk and look at all the different seeds in our yard and our neighborhood. You can also go to a park or a nature center. Our backyard is a little different, it is open space with lots of prairie grass, cacti, flowers, bunnies, coyotes, etc.
You will need shoes and pants for this activity and a piece of felt, any size.
Right outside of the house we found these monsters!
This was hands down the biggest seed we found.
It reminded me of another seed everyone knows very well. A dandelion.We found one to compare sizes. I still don’t know what that seed/flower/weed is. Hopefully next spring when they come back we can find out.
Once we were done with our hunt, we brought everything inside and had a closer look. With the magnifying glass. Snug is still not sure how to use it.
Here is what we found! I don’t know what any of them are called, but I do know they are all seeds!!! Sorry Snug, but good job finding seeds!
Activity 2– Different kinds of Seeds, inside the house!
Similar to when we went on a search for crystals inside our house, we went looking for seeds. For this activity we just brought everything to the table and labeled them on a paper towel. If you want though, you can get a piece of paper and some tape and tape the seeds to the paper, then put a label beside them and hang it on the fridge for reference.
We didn’t do that. Why? Because I am just thinking of it now! I hate when that happens, 6 months after the fact.
There were the usual, celery seed, mustard seed, etc, but then we cheated a little and went ahead and got out some of the seeds we would be planting in the garden. It only made sense, we had to look at them any way. We looked at all the different kinds of seeds and then I had Snug guess which seeds where which. Peas, pumpkin, sunflower were obvious, carrots were a little harder.
*Warning! This activity could get a little seedy, be careful with breezy paper towels and clumsy preschoolers.
Activity 3– Anatomy of a Seed
The next part of our theme was to look at the anatomy of a seed, the inside parts. What makes a seed work! So we took some popcorn seeds and tossed them in a glass of water for 24 hours.
Here are our popcorn seeds however many hours later, it was probably a day or two or three depending. 24 hours is the minimum. Anyway, we noticed the seeds got a little bigger, but not huge.
Now that the seeds were over saturated, it was very easy to cut a seed in half. We took a bunch of them and cut them in half, I did the cutting, a paring knife works perfectly.
Here are my fancy Photoshop skills literally at their best. There are many different parts of the seed all working together to help the plant grow. P.S. you can see these parts a lot better in a kidney bean, however I didn’t know this at the time. So there is the seed coat – the outer protection for the seed and all the precious nutrients inside. The embyo – (whoa I didn’t think about telling my daughter that word for some time, but science is as science does) this is the main part of the seed. This is where the seed leaves are, though they are hard to see in the corn kernel. Then there is the endosperm – simplified it is the good the embryo eats while sprouting and post. Eventually all this disappears and is replaced by roots and bigger leaves and strong stems.
Activity 4- Sprouting Seeds
Our sprouting seeds activity went perfectly with the seed anatomy we learned. It takes a while to sprout seeds and peanuts do work great, and in fact I have found two or thee places that do sell raw peanuts. Anyway we used kidney beans and more popcorn.
Line some pans, we used cake pans, with paper towels and put the seeds on the paper towels. Then get the kiddo bear to pour some water. Not too much, you don’t want a pool of water, but enough to get the whole thing good and damp.
Look at those pouring skills.
Good job snuggle bear!!!
Now cover the pans with plastic wrap to create a good greenhouse type enviroment and leave them outside and promptly forget about them. For days. Until it starts pouring one day and you run out realizing your mistake. Then wait a couple more sunny days and then you should be good. I am not sure how much time should pass, since I forgot about ours for at least a week. Just let them sit until you can see things happening.
We dumped our sprouts onto a paper plate and took a closer look at them. You can see all the little baby leaves starting to come out of them.
There we go!!! Now you can see the actual leaves. Since these were popcorn kernels and not really corn seeds, you know they have been processed for other uses, i.e. popcorn, the results weren’t huge. Especially given the amount of time the corn sat in the pan. The kidney beans did better.
Well I mean, it doesn’t look like it here but…
There we go, once we took off the outer layer of skin or seed coat, we saw the leaves starting to sprout out and could then easily label all the parts of the seed.
The seed embryo in the kidney bean is seemingly smaller than that of the popcorn kernel.
Quiz time! Snug had fun pointing out all the different parts of the seed. From what we had learned earlier.
I feel like using a plastic sandwich bag would have created a better environment and climate for these seeds to sprout in. Ours might have been too drafty. My suggestion for this project is to get a sandwich bag, put a couple of seeds and a wet paper towel in and puff it with plenty of air before closing it. Then hang it in a window where the sun comes in nice and bright and long. Wait a couple of days and the results will be great! Lima beans or kidney beans are the best for this project.
Activity 5- Growing from Seeds
The last part of our seed them included actually trying to plant seeds and grow them. We started with an avocado seed. Or two actually.
You will need a couple of small cups or prep dishes, an avocado seed(s) and four toothpicks for each seed. See that white spot on the bottom of the right seed, that is the embryo, the part you want in the water.
Gently insert the toothpicks into the side of the avocado, not too far in. Have the embryo on the bottom and have the toothpicks angled down toward the embryo.
Balance the seed along the rim of your cup or dish.
Pour some water in until it covers the bottom to middle of the seed.
Now put them in a sunny spot and wait for the magic to happen. It will, but you need sun and water. Unfortunately for our seeds we didn’t have either a sunny spot or enough water. There wasn’t a good spot to put them so they would be in enough sun and our cat, sweet deceased Goose, kept drinking the water. I think he liked the flavoring. Or he just liked knocking over the dishes. Either way, we tried but they did not sprout. One day though, one day…
Finally we planted some seeds in an egg carton. Don’t make my mistake; when building your egg carton garden, if it is not made of paper, so if it is plastic like ours or styrofoam, do not forget to put tiny holes in the bottom. I completely did and so only half of our egg carton garden was a success.
Snug helped me make the labels.
And we made an observation chart. We put the dates down of when we planted the seeds and then wrote down when we first saw things happening. Leaves sprouting or, since our egg carton was see through plastic, when roots started to form on the bottom. As you can see here the pumpkins are doing great and we had some carrot activity. The peas never took and we only got a couple green beans. Everything else though, we transferred to our garden.
Again the pumpkins did great and lots others did too, until the early frost came, which wouldn’t have been that early, had we planted our garden on time, but we were just shy of over a month late.
We had a great time, Snug learned a lot and this was just the start. We continue to talk about seeds to this day and definitely kept talking about them all summer.