By Ann-Marie Burton
zippered plastic bags
clothespins & rope
1. Take your child to your local garden centre and pick your seeds together. Suggestions for the fastest seeds to keep your child's interest: green beans, flava beans and peas.
2. Prepare your bags by labelling them with marker: Beans, peas, etc.
3. Wet the paper towel and place one full sheet in each bag. Put the sheet in as flat as possible, then staple a line about 2 inches down from the opening of the bags.
5. Place the seeds (2-6 per bag depending on the type of seed) along the top of the stapled ridge. You need the seeds to stay at the top so there's room for the roots to grow down and the plant to grow up.
6. Zipper the bag and place them in a sunny window. The damp paper towel in the bag creates a little moist growing environment. Have some fun with clothes pins and yarn while you rig up a hanging spot that's best for watching progress and creating conversation.
7. Water daily, only if the paper dries out. Remember that it needs to stay moist, but not soaking.
8. Kids love to check daily and note all the changes. Consider doing a chart or taking photos along the process to make a book or collage at the end.
9. Once the plant sends out shoots upward you need to open the bag to allow it to grow. The plants will need more regular watering as they grow beyond this point.
Transferring your seedlings to the garden:
Keep in mind that this is where the experiment can get a bit tricky and disappointing for the kids. Be sure to manage their expectations about whether these will be able to grow in the ground outside. It can be difficult to separate the roots from the paper so be careful when you are trying to transfer them outside. Peas seem to transfer the best!
This family science experiment is not only a great way to get ready for spring, it is also a teachable moment with your child to show how a plant grows.
momstown originally published this in 2014