As I mentioned last week, our vegetable seeds arrived for our summer garden. This was our very first sign of spring around here… as we are still covered in snow. So, of course, we took the opportunity for a spring activity right away—with this seed sorting and comparing activity. And, trying to pace myself so we actually have some seeds left for the garden, this week I bring you our second seed activity. This one is all about seed germination for kids!
Seed germination, in a nutshell, is when a seed begins the growing process. This science activity is a fantastic one to do with young kids because it is simple, a relatively quick process, and easy to actually see.
This year, we put a twist on the classic bean and wet paper towel science experiment. We added in some other veggie seeds to see which would germinate the quickest. This will also give us a chance to compare roots and sprouts.
Before we get started, be sure to download your free seed germination tracker for your little ones to record what they observe!
For this seed germination for kids activity:
- a glass jar
- paper towels
- and seeds
First, we pushed sheets of paper towels, one at a time, into the glass jar. Once it was full, we added some water to wet it (dumping out any excess). Wetting the paper towel made room for a few more pieces to be pushed into the jar and then wet again. We dumped out any excess water. We made sure the paper towel was rather packed so the seeds would stay nicely in place next to the glass.
Next, we picked four seeds: beans, snap peas, cucumber, and swiss chard. We pushed them down the side of the glass jar and supported them with the wet paper towel when pulling our fingers out.
Finally, I labelled each seed so we could make observations and comparisons. I am excited about all of the learning that could come from this science experiment! Perhaps we will be learning about time and calendars, measuring sprouts, or comparing colors…
We just did this activity today, and as Sammy could let you know (since he has checked every 30 minutes), the seeds have not started to sprout yet. But I will be sure to update you when they do! I’ll let you know which ones we had the best luck with as well.
Activities like this are a great way to bring the outdoors in and get little ones excited for the coming garden. Using a glass or clear plastic jar helps little ones to see and understand the root system—giving them the real-life learning they need to understand what is really happening under the soil.
For Sammy’s sake, I certainly hope they germinate soon!
Update! Ready to see which seeds sprouted fastest, had the coolest root structures, and were easiest to grow? Check out my updated post: Seed Germination: The Results!
If you’re looking for more seed activities, be sure to check out these 35 Seed Activities for Kids. And if you’re feeling crafty, I have tons of Seed Art Ideas for Kids as well!
I hope you find these seed activities for kids helpful for you and yours! They are such fun for early Spring.
Thank you for reading, friends!
P.S. Don’t forget to download your FREE Seed Germination Tracker:
You’ll also love these How Wee Learn best-sellers:
Diana Burress says
Great idea to compare different seeds. I also love the idea of using the mason jar.
Thank you Diana!
Charlena Berry says
I LOVE this idea. We are big gardeners at home – and my daughter pointed out that we only get to see what happens above the dirt. It’s brilliant to do it in the mason jar to see what happens!
Thank you Charlena! You just reminded me that I need to do an updated post – perhaps I will get to that tonight! The seeds grow so quick!
Love this idea! My kids (2 and 3.5) love helping in the garden and we just started our seeds in the pots and doing this after nap today 🙂 we’re gonna do green beans, pepper, squash, and carrot since these are all things they love to eat!
So fun Robin! We just started our seeds in their pots this weekend. Can’t wait for our summer garden!! I think I will do a weekly post with a picture about our garden, hoping others will join in and share their picture in the comments – want to join me?!
Do you have results, like the length of the radical each day?
Hi Sarah, no we did not take any detailed measurements – just observations. But please do share if you do this and get specifics!
Can I use clear plastic cup? I need to know because I’m planning to do this experiment with preschoolers. Thank you.
Yes for sure – a clear plastic cup will work just the same! I hope you guys have fun!
That was my question!! Thanks!! We have plastic Mason-style jars that I think will work perfectly! I think instead of measuring, we will take a photo every day, then make a documentation board with the photos (this is for a Reggio-inspired preschool class)
Such a wonderful idea Linda!!! I would love to see what you create when you are done!
Amy Wong says
Do we need to put the lid on the Mason Jar while we observe the seeds over the next couple of days? Do we need to keep the towels misted/watered? Thank you for the idea!
Hi Amy! No need for the lid, and yes keep the paper towel moist the whole time. Have fun!!!! Let me know how it goes for you!
Do you water the paper towel everyday?
Just ensure the paper towel stays moist – but you don’t want a pool of water at the bottom of the jar. Have fun!!
Stefanie Mendoza says
HI there! At what point did you plant these in your garden? Any tips for that transfer?
We planted once it was warm enough outside to do so and they transferred just fine! We always ‘harden’ out plants before putting them in the garden. So we put them outside in the shade for a morning, then outside in the sun the next morning, then outside all day, etc. We do it rather quick over about a week and then pop them in the garden for good 🙂
Nicki H says
With the multiple different seeds in one jar, did you transplant them all at the same time? Also, how do you take each sprout/roots out of the jar/paper towel without damaging them? (Did you do one seed of each type in the jar, so 4 sprouts per jar or more?) Thanks!!
Hi Nicki! Yes, I transplanted the seeds all at once. I carefully pulled the paper towel away from the glass and slid out each little plant. They come out quite easily. I did do one seed of each type in this example. Hope this helps!
I want to do this project with my grandson. Do you have any advice for someone who can kill a cactus not once not twice but three times. How do I get the seeds to grow without killing them first?
Oh you can do it!! They sprout so quickly so you only need to remember about caring them for a very short while. Just make sure the paper towel stays damp but not soaking wet and you are golden!
Komal Patel says
How long did it take to sprout? I have my daughter’s STEM night in couple of weeks and would like to display the jar there. Do you think the seeds would sprout in two weeks?
Yes, you will definitely have sprouts in time! Have fun!
? the idea for my twin granddaughters. Thank you
Oh I am so glad Lori! Thank you for letting me know.
Hi! Does the jar need to stand in sunlight? Or just bright light?
This is a great question! I have always done it in sunlight, but I would be intrigued to know if it works with regular light bulbs. If you try it please let me know!
Kim Villanti says
Where did you purchase your seeds from?
Heirloom Organics is where we like to buy our seeds!
Hi! I want to do this with kids at my summer camp but we are all outside all day (especially now with COVID), would it be possible to keep the jars outside or would the heat kill the plants/seeds in the jars? It gets up to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit here.
Hi Amanda, What a great question. This project should still work for you. I would suggest putting the jars in a shady spot and to keep the paper towel nice and moist. Thanks for asking!