Seed Detectives

Since we’ll be starting some seeding with the classes at Blake in the early spring, winter is a good time to learn about seeds and germination. We’ve done a few different seed and germination activities with the grade 2/3s this winter. During our Seed Detectives activity, I started by reading the beautiful book “A Seed is Sleepy” by Diana Hutts Aston.  I highly recommend checking out this book! We then divided the grade 2s and 3s, so we could do different curriculum-linked activities with them.

With the grade 2s, we did the same bean seed dissection activity that I did with grade 2s last year. I had some bean seeds that I had soaked overnight, that the students could compare with dried bean seeds.  We then went step-by-step through this worksheet from the website. This worksheet gave more structure to the seed sketching than I had last year, where they each just sketched the inside of the seed onto a blank sheet of paper. Still a bit of a challenge to get them to understand that a diagram of something small like a seed should be bigger than the actual object, but they got it with a bit of repetition.  So first, they drew the seed with its coat on. Then they peeled the skin off the seeds and drew what they saw. The last step was to carefully split the seed in half and see what’s inside. It was cool to see the kids’ amazement at the mini plants inside the seeds!

The seed gloves from the grade 3 germination experiment.

The seed gloves from the grade 3 germination experiment.

Kayla led the grade 3 activity, where they started a germination activity. The objective was to see different types of seeds germinating, and also to demonstrate that seeds don’t need soil in order to germinate. Each pair of students made a “seed glove” – we used clear plastic gloves and cotton balls for this experiment. Into each finger of the gloves, the students put a cotton ball with some water and one variety of seeds.  The clear gloves allow them to see the germination, and with each pair having all five seed varieties in their gloves, it was easier for them to observe and compare the different seeds germinating. It was neat for me to come back a week later too, and see how things had started to grow!

Lots of little sprouts!

Lots of little sprouts!

Sprout close-up

Sprout close-up









A couple of weeks later, after they’d had a chance to observe the germination, we did a “seed viability testing” experiment with the whole grade 2/3 class.  Lots of gardeners do seed viability tests before they start seeding in the spring, to make sure that enough of their seeds are still alive to make it worth planting them. I have a bunch of old seeds that I’ve saved over the past few years, so we tested seeds like kohlrabi, mustard, radish, garlic chives, marigolds, lettuce, etc.  In this case, each pair of students only started one type of seed.  They placed 20 seeds onto some wet paper towel, which they then put into a labelled Ziploc bag, and then observed over the coming days/weeks. This lesson has the potential with older grades to include extension activities of calculating the fractions or percentages, but for the grade 2/3s, just observing the germination of the different types of seeds.  Most of the seeds seemed to have germinated (except the garlic chives), so we can plant most of these seeds with confidence this spring!

Seed viability testing - something in the brassica family.

Seed viability testing – something in the brassica family.

Marigold seed and sprout

Marigold seed and sprout

Do two cilantro/coriander sprouts grow out of each seed? Cool!

Do two cilantro/coriander sprouts grow out of each seed? Cool!












I guess it’s that time of year too, when I should start thinking about what we’ll be planting in the school gardens this year, and starting to map out this year’s gardens… Are you planning on growing anything new and/or exciting in your garden(s) this year?

Happy growing!


One response to this post.

  1. […] sprouts that we could taste at the end of the week. The germination experiment was the same as the seed glove lesson I did a Blake a few weeks earlier – it went pretty well, but it’s more of a classroom […]


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