A Kindergarten Child-Led Project: Seeds, Plants, Gardening

The five-year-old grew two pumpkins by himself. I’m a proud mama.

Most kindergarten curriculums include a study of how seeds grow into plants.  I did not have to do anything to entice my son into learning about seeds.  He is obsessed with them.  Whenever he gets a chance, he’ll pull seeds off trees or plants – at church, at a park, grandma’s house or our yard – and he puts them in his pocket, telling me he wants to plant them as soon as possible.  He has done this so many times that I almost want to pull my hair out, but I don’t.  I just smile and say, “Okay.”  Sometimes I have helped him plant the seeds, but usually I just let him plant them wherever he wants, hoping knowing he might forget about them.  Since I’m a “green pinky” gardener, I usually know that the seeds he has won’t grow under the conditions in which he plants them in, but that’s not the point.  The point is to just let him have fun planting his seeds.

But I have assisted him in planting seeds under conditions that I knew hoped would grow.  Earlier this summer, we planted tomatoes, and to my surprise, he was very eager to take care of them. Since I have my hands full with two boys, I didn’t plan to plant much else, but he insisted that we plant pumpkins.  So we did.  Or I should say he did.  He planted those pumpkins, and he took care of them all summer.  He watered them every night!  I think it was quite late summer before he finally started to let his little brother do the watering, but he was still eager enough most evenings.  (He lasted longer than me.  Usually by mid-August, I’ve had enough of gardening.)  I was very proud of him.


Since plants are an interest of his, I have used the opportunity to teach him more about seeds, plants and gardening.
 This has been over a long period of time.  As I wrote about in “Learning Is Like a Chain Link Fence,” I believe the best learning comes from doing and studying something at our leisure, over time, and when we need to learn about it for a purpose.  I’ll continue to teach my son about planting, seeds and gardening in the future.  This is an easy subject for me since I enjoy gardening myself.

Here’s a list of additional projects and resources that I’ve used to teach him about seeds and plants.  And you can scroll down to see our pictures.

  • I found a “Plant: Life Cycle” Poster (see photo above) for less than $3 at a nearby teacher supply store. Though my son and I enjoy making our own educational posters, I have no problem spending a few bucks every now and then. (Actually, the price was probably the same as making one of our own.)
  • We have read and added the books How a Seed Grows by Helene J. Jordan and From Seed to Plant by Allan Fowler to our home library.
  • Using this Martha Stewart tutorial, we tried to sprout some beans in jars.  We successfully sprouted some pinto beans, and one of them is still growing in our garden! Photos and more information below.
  • At my son’s request, we have tried several times to plant seeds from the fruits or vegetables that we eat and cook with in the kitchen.  I don’t think we’ve gotten any of those to grow yet.
  • Other than this, I have let my boys play in the garden, tend the garden and plant anything they want.  If it doesn’t grow, it’s just another lesson.

Nothing teaches a child about Earth’s bounty better than gardening.

My boys have been participating in gardening and growing plants since they were babies.

We’ve also taken advantage of local farms, and I plan to visit more as the boys get older.  We went strawberry picking last spring.

Our seed sprouting project:

Our seed sprouting project had a lot of false starts.  Thinking I could remember back to my kindergarten days, I thought we could just throw some seeds in a jar of water and watch them sprout.  Ahem….This didn’t work.  Then I tried Martha Stewart’s Garden in a Jar project.  The black beans didn’t sprout at all but that may be because they were old beans from my pantry.  The lima beans and pintos (which I bought new) started to sprout, but the limas stopped sprouting and got moldy, so I threw them out (too much water?)  The pintos were a success!

This method is simple:  Lightly wet a paper towel and put it in the bottom of a jar, place the dried beans on top of the towel and then cover the jar.  I used regular dried beans that you can buy at the grocery store.  You may need to mist the beans periodically, if the towel dries out.

Pinto bean success!  My son planted these sprouts in our garden, and one of them is still growing. I doubt it’ll make it through the winter, though. Yet that is a lesson in itself, no?


At my son’s request, we have tried planting some other things.  This lettuce was a success.  We also planted some in our garden,and though I’ve had a lot of success with lettuce over the years, I’m sorry to say that crop didn’t grow.

What kinds of things have your kids done to learn about seeds, plants and gardening?

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