Get Growing! Lesson 4

Sprouting Experiments and Winter Sowing

Activity 1: Evaluate Growth in Sprouting Bags

We started off class this week by checking out the results in the bean sprouting bags. After 3 weeks in a sunny, warm, damp bag, most of the yellow-eye beans had leaves and lots of roots, the peas that survived had leaves, and the fava beans had interesting dark fleshy roots.

There were actual shrieks of excitement when the students saw the bags. Maybe it was just a shrieking kind of day, but I was inspired by their enthusiasm

The magnifying glasses added another level of observation. My class has a range of ages, so we verbally identified the sprout parts, drew them, and some students wrote wrote the labels on the activity page.

Some of the bags had a good bit of mold, so I gave the students a choice - leave your sprouts in the bag, or take them out onto the paper plate for a closer look. Everyone washed hands afterwards.
FYI: I let the students take the sprouts home to show their family, but these sprouts are not really meant for planting, just as an experiment.

Follow up Discussion Questions:

Which kind of seed made leaves first?
How were the fava roots different from the bean roots?
Why did each seed grow differently even though they all had the same environment?

Activity 2: WinterSowing

We discussed the importance of using a variety of flowering plants to attract pollinators to our garden. The seeds we planted will eventually grow in the school vegetable garden and in the flower beds. I chose a mix of annuals and perennials.

Each student planted seeds in a mini greenhouse made from a recycled plastic bottle. The bottle will retain moisture and warmth to allow the seeds to sprout long before the outside air is warm enough - and we can keep them outside in the snow! (if we actually had snow right now) I demonstrated how an adult with a sharp tool would make a mini greenhouse, but prepped the student bottles at home. The bottles went home with me and if the weather cooperates we will troop out to the school garden next week and place our mini greenhouses.

For more info about wintersowing, visit or my recent blog post, WinterSowing 2016. This lesson took a good bit of prep and there are some improvements to be made. The seeds, small envelopes, and bottle lid presented some dexterity challenges for the younger students. I posted about that here