GetGrowing! Lesson 3

Legumes (continued) and Potatoes from Peels

We started off with a legume activity that we didn't get to do last week. Each student dissected a dry bean that I'd soaked for a few hours previously. We identified the basic parts - root, stem, seed coat, and leaves. (post-lesson note: use fresher beans, old ones take too long to soak and sometimes the roots tips are broken off)

Then we observed our bean sprout experiment bags. The bags spent the week in a warm spot next to my radiator and many of the beans have sprouting activity. We drew them and labeled the parts we could see.

above: my sample drawing, below: actual drawing by a 1st grader

We noticed some interesting mold and slime that also grew in the warm damp environment. (we kept the baggies shut, I imagine they smell a little ripe.) I'm going to find a sunny window to keep them on until our next class.

I prepped for the potato project at home by cutting out the chunks with eyes from an older potato. Even a thick peeling will sprout if there is an eye included. The rest of the potato will be made into soup. Best practice is use special "seed potatoes", to let the potato sprout more, and to give the chunks a few days to heal over, but I believe this will work fine. I remember my grandfather hacking a sprouted potato into chunks with a pocket knife and dropping them directly into the potato trench.

Everyone was very excited to plant something in soil. I used a big plastic bin as the soil box and a plastic table cloth helped keep things neat. Each student filled a plastic cup with potting soil and pressed in the potato eyes. The potato cup went in a paper sack for take-home.

We had a good discussion of what else our planted potatoes would need - water, sunlight, and eventually more space. I'll be sprouting one at home too.

At the end of class, after hand-washing, we played "Seed you may wander". I was glad to see that my time estimates are getting more accurate. My friend Rose (who is also the mother of two of the students) has been a huge help as my "assistant", but I also need to start thinking about ways to make the class run smoothly when I teach solo.

tip: Any time you plant something in soil, you must have drainage holes. Use a drill to put drainage holes in your cups, or recycled plastic bottle bottoms or whatever. If you stack them it goes faster and the cups don't flop around as much.