BEAN THERE, DONE PLANT
Seeds are many things. Students will have the opportunity to
learn that everything about seeds-their numbers and forms and structure-has
a bearing on their main purpose, to insure continuing life. Seeds are containers
of new embryos of a new generation. Students will understand that events
in nature follow an orderly progression when they plant seeds and observe
the development of the seeds. Students will count seeds and find the likenesses
and the differences of many seeds.
Take a Look #2: Flowers and Seeds
Science is Elementary #1: Plants
Students will be able to:
- learn the structure of seeds
- make observations and record data
- understand the relationship of the structure of seed parts to function
- and demonstrate how to work effectively in a group with other students
For activity stations:
- 1 small Dixie® cup assorted seeds: lima beans, kidney beans, popcorn,
sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, etc., (4 bags of seven
bean soup works well) 1 scale
- 1 plastic teddy bear
- 1 ruler
- 5 magnifying lens instructions for setting up stations
Per group of five:
- 8 ounce clear plastic cups
- 1 small bag potting soil
- 2" X 6" sheets of blotting paper
To start the students thinking about seeds and how they grow,
invite them to participate in a creative movement activity that acts out
how a little seed grows into a plant. Tell the students the story of how
a seed grows. Have them reenact the story of the seed as it goes through
various stages of growth. Play soft music in the background to enhance the
A simple script follows: I am a seed. (Students curl up into a ball on the
floor.) When I am planted in the soil a root begins to grow. (Have students
straighten out one leg.) My job as a root is to reach underground and suck
up water and vitamins from the soil. (Students make slurping noises.) A
bud begins to push up through the ground. (Children lift up their heads
and push upwards.) Soon, leaves form. (Children spread out their arms.)
Divide the students into groups of five. Explain that there are four activity
centers. (Set up prior to lesson. See activity page for instructions.) Each
group will complete the centers. The teacher will tell the groups when and
where to switch.
After the students have completed the centers, ask them to tell what they
know about seeds. Record their responses on chart paper. Guide the students
with these questions: How are the seeds alike? How are they different? What
color are the seeds? Are the seeds all the same size? Are they all the same
Remind the students that seeds are little plants that have not
started to grow. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing,
direct them to watch this segment of the video to discover that seed growth
follows a predictable pattern. Seeds soak up water, the seed case breaks
open, roots form, the stem begins to grow, and finally leaves begin to develop.
BEGIN Take a Look #2: Flowers and Seeds when Kate
says "actually a flower works hardest when it is no longer pretty."
PAUSE to actively involve the students after the narrator says "Could
I plant the apple seeds?" Ask the students if they think they could
plant a seed from an apple or a seed from an orange. Further questions to
ask include, "What grows from apple seeds? What will the orange seed
grow into? Could you eat the fruit of the apple before you planted the seeds?"
FAST FORWARD and RESUME when the narrator says "Spring
is a time when plants grow." PAUSE the video as the pea seeds
are planted. Use the FRAME ADVANCE as the seed begins the
stages of germination, discussing each stage with the students. Ask the
students to describe what is happening. RESUME the video and PAUSE
when the boy asks for a prediction of the seeds. Ask the students their
predictions of the correct section of the poppy seeds. Tally their responses
on the board. RESUME the video. PAUSE after the narrator says
"Anyone can grow plants." STOP and EJECT the video.
Ask the students to recall the steps in planting the seeds. Let the students
estimate the number of days it took the seeds to sprout. Why did the seeds
appear to sprout so quickly on the video? (Timelapse photography)
As the students watch segments of Science is Elementary #1: Let's Explore
Plants, they are to look for the correct methods to plant seeds. Remind
them that seeds need soil, water, and warm temperature to begin sprouting.
BEGIN Science is Elementary: Let's Explore Plants when the
narrator says, "to grow most plants a seed must be planted first."
PAUSE the video after she has planted the seeds and ask the students
to describe how the seeds were planted. List the steps on a chart. RESUME
the video. PAUSE the video when the tractor and planter are shown.
Allow a student to come to the television to locate the planter boxes that
hold the seeds being planted. Ask the students to estimate how many seeds
each box will hold. Discuss why the farmer needs large equipment to plant
This activity allows students to apply what they have learned
about seeds. Students are divided into groups of five. Each group is given
five clear plastic cups, potting soil, five strips of blotting paper, and
lima bean seeds. Cover the work surfaces with newspaper. Line the cups with
one strip of blotting paper and fill the center with soil. Place four or
more beans between the plastic and the blotting paper, setting each seed
in a different direction. Moisten the soil with water and put in a warm
place. Observe as the roots turn downward and the shoots turn upward.
Invite a gardener to visit the classroom. Seek out a parent
or a friend who has a garden and lots of gardening experience. Have students
design an invitation asking the person to visit the class. The invitation
could suggest that the visitor show his or her tools, work clothes, and
some of the plants grown in a home garden.
Read Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit to the students and have
them figure out Mr. McGregor's problem and how he solved it. Discuss different
kinds of pests in a garden, such as animals and birds who eat the seeds
and plants, and careless people who step on plants or take things that don't
belong to them. Locate a nearby farm that grows various crops. Take the
children walking through fields, pointing out how plants grow. Show the
machinery needed to do the work and ask the farmer to describe a typical
day on the farm during planting season.
Visit a local greenhouse, showing the children how the seeds are planted.
Ask a knowledgeable person to show the students equipment used, seed varieties,
and ways plants are treated when diseased.
Science: Buy sprouting seeds at a grocery or health foods store.
Good choices include alfalfa, mung beans, soybeans, peas, radish, and wheat.
Grow the sprouts in clean jars with a cheesecloth lid secured by rubber
bands. Soak the seeds overnight and drain in the morning. Rinse and drain
the sprouts twice daily. Cover the jars with a clean cloth to keep out the
light. Keeping them in a warm (not hot) location speeds up sprouting. Remove
the cloth and expose the sprouts to sunlight for "greening" the
last two days before eating. They are usually ready in less than a week.
Since the sprouts stop growing when refrigerated, they can be stored there
for several days. Add the sprouts to a green salad or serve in a sandwich.
Bring a coconut to class so the students can examine the world's largest
seed. Pass the whole coconut around the room so the students can look at
it, feel it, tap it, and shake it. Ask them what they think is inside. Would
they describe the coconut's weight as heavy or light? Do they believe it
can really float? Drop the coconut in a basin or sink filled with water
to show that it really does float. Even if it is pushed down under the water,
it will bob back up to the surface. Show the students the three "eyes"
of the coconut. Tell them that when a new palm tree starts to grow, a single
leaf pushes out through one of these soft spots. Strange seeds: Some seeds
do not grow in the center of the fruit. Students might be interested to
see the unusual ways seeds grow in a raspberry or blackberry, a strawberry,
a pineapple, a kiwi, or a banana. What we call the berry is really many
small fruits growing very close together on a central stem that can be seen
if you slice open the berry lengthwise. Each little fruit contains its own
seed. When you slice a banana, the little black dots you see are seeds that
aren't ripe yet. By the time the seeds ripen, the banana is rotten, so we
don't often see fully developed banana seeds. After the seeds have been
observed, the fruits may be cut up into a fruit salad and eaten.
Sponge Garden: The students have already learned that a seed contains food
for the new plant that will grow from it. Give each small group a wet sponge
in a plastic container. Then sprinkle grass seed or birdseed onto the sponges.
Keep the sponges wet and in a sunny place. Grass will begin growing from
the sponges. Talk about the results of the experiment. Why did the seeds
grow without soil? Remind the students that each seed is a little package
of food and energy for the new plant that will grow from it. When the grass
has used up all the food stored in the seeds, it will die. In order to live
for a long time, the plant has to grow in soil.
Math: Place a piece of cardboard on the ground. Pour a bag of dried lima
beans on the cardboard and spread them out evenly. Then spray paint one
side of each bean. When the paint is dry, place between five and ten beans
in individual paper cups. Give each student in a learning center a cup of
beans. Have them pour the beans onto a table. Each bean will be showing
a natural white surface or a painted one. Ask each student to use the two
different colors of beans to show an addition equation on a sheet of paper.
For example, if one white bean and four red beans were showing, the equation
would be 1 + 4 = 5. Return the beans to the cup and repeat the activity.
Collect seed catalogs from friends, parents, or the local agricultural extension
office. Then prepare a graph with the class of edible plant parts such as
the seed, the root, the stem, and the leaf. Give the students the seed catalogs
and have them cut out pictures that show examples of food in each category.
Glue the pictures to the graph. When the graph is complete, count the pictures
in each category.
Purchase several varieties of seeds that vary in size. (Use the seven bean
soup again.) Place each seed type in a different container. Let each student
in a learning center fill a scoop with one kind of seed until it is level
at the top. (Laundry scoops work well.) Then pour the seeds onto a tray
and count the number needed to fill the scoop. Record the number on a lab
sheet and repeat the process with the seeds in the other containers.
Students can use math skills to plan their own gardens. Make seed packets
and seed catalogs available as reference materials for such things as prices,
number of seeds per row, and distance between plants. Work in small groups.
Have students use data to determine how many of each plant will fit in the
rows, how much space between rows is required, etc. They can measure an
actual plot size on the playground.
Sunflower Seed Candy: 1 cup nonfat dry milk, 1 cup honey, 1 cup peanut butter,
1 cup sunflower seeds, 1 cup sesame seeds. Mix ingredients thoroughly. Shape
into 1-inch balls. Roll in sesame seeds to coat.
Language Arts: Read Eric Carle's The Tiny Seed (Picture Book Studio, l987),
calling attention to the seasons mentioned and to the circle aspects of
the story, indicating the repetitive life cycle of seeds.
Famous sayings, such as "fresh as a daisy," "sweet as a rose,"
"everything's coming up roses," and "grows like a weed,"
can be found in a farmer's almanac or in a book of quotations. Print several
of these on a sheet of chart paper. Discuss the meaning of each saying.
Let each student choose one saying and draw a picture that illustrates its
meaning. Bind the pictures together to create a class book or display them
on a bulletin board.
Music and Art: Let students skip rope as they recite the following jump
rope rhyme: "I went to the garden to pull some weeds. Instead I ate
sunflower seeds. How many seeds did I eat?" Encourage them to make
up more verses.
Use dried peas which have been soaked overnight and toothpicks to build
geometric structures. Push the toothpicks into the peas and build cubes,
pyramids, or free form sculptures. Let them dry completely so the toothpicks
will stay in the peas.
Have the students draw, label and fill a geometric shape with glue, then
use seeds to fill in the shape to make seed pictures.
Click here to view the
worksheet associated with this lesson.
Master Teachers: Miriam Waggoner and Karen Copple
Lesson Plan Database
Thirteen Ed Online