5.29.2012

A teachable moment... seed growth!

The other day I was checking germination rates on an old package of Blue Lake Pole Beans I was intending to plant.  It's a simple thing to do, actually.  You take a paper towel, fold it in quarters, saturate it with water and stick a few seeds in the middle.  Next, you pop it in a plastic bag and place it in a sunny place.  Boom.  Done.  Check it a few days later to see what kind of good things are happening!  It will give you a good idea of the percentage of viable seeds that are left in your seed pack.  You can also pop these little sprouted goodies in the garden.

In any event, this whole process got me thinking.  For the past few months, The Captain has seen me plant seed after seed in the garden.  He watches patiently and then one day, just like magic, they pop out of the ground as a plant!  We chatted and he understands that a seed becomes a plant, but he can't visualize the magic that happens beneath the soil.  So I thought I'd show him.

The first week in the life of a Blue Lake pole bean!

Isn't it amazing?!?  I mean, seriously.  All this magic happens in one little week!  I think The Captain was a little blown away too.  He's only 3 1/2, but he now understands that the food we eat starts from just one little seed.  He also now knows that plants have a top and a bottom and there is a giant root system beneath the soil holding our little plants in place.

So if you're interested in teaching a little person in your life the basics of germination (or as we like to call it, "growin' some seed") here you go:

1.  Select your seed.  I find that beans are my favorite because the development is so obvious.  If you don't have left over beans, I suppose you could use any sizable seed such as a pumpkin, pea or cucumber, but I'll be honest.  Beans are best.  You want your little person to be able to hold and touch the seeds and seedlings.  Worst case scenario, go buy a pack.  Heck.  It's science and irreplaceable knowledge for $1.49!

2.  Fold a paper towel into quarters and wet it well.

3.  Place 3 or 4 seeds on the paper towel, fold it in half yet again and place it in a plastic bag (don't seal the top).  Set the bag in a warm spot and wait.  Your prepped bag of seeds should look something like this:



4.  Repeat the process every other day for a week.

5.  Open all the bags, narrow it down to 6 or 7 stages of development and show them to the kiddos!  Since The Captain is still little, I placed them in order like you see in the photo at the top of the post.  If your children are older, it would be fun for them to put the seeds/seedlings in order and then discuss the changes that are taking place.  This is also a great moment to teach anatomy of a seedling to your older children (root system, stem, cotyledon or "baby leaves", true leaves, primary root, root hairs, etc.)

For me, I'm just excited that my little guy knows about seeds sprouting roots, stems and "baby" and "big boy" leaves.  I'm also elated that he finds all this interesting and can now relate it to the growth he sees in the garden every day.

Now go forth and do some teachin'!

xo, k

PS.  As I teach my boys about where their food comes from, I'm constantly reminded of the scene in Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" when the class of kids can't identify a pea, potato, eggplant, etc.  Have you seen the series?  It was really inspiring for me to watch.  Check out his Kitchen Garden Project!  It's right up my alley.  :)

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