Students learn all about seeds through dissection, classification, comparison and contrast, and hands-on planting experience.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
- Unit Plan:
Students will explore seeds through dissecting, sorting, comparing and contrasting. They will discover their location in fruits, vegetables, and in the environment. They will learn the many ways seeds travel and what they need to grow. They will also plant seeds and observe their growth over time.
The students will:
- Dissect a seed and identify the parts and their functions.
- Discover where seeds can be found.
- Compare and contrast seeds by size and color.
- Learn how seeds travel.
- Predict and observe what seeds need to grow.
- Magnifying glasses for each student
- A dry pinto bean for each student
- A soaked pinto bean for each student
- Paper plate for each student
- Drawing paper
- Black pens
- Water colors, brushes, and rinse water
- Chart paper and markers
- Various fruits and vegetables (apples, oranges, strawberries, pepper, corn, guava, avocado)
- A large basket
- An apple and orange for each pair of students
- A sharp knife
- Magnifying glasses for each student
- Paper plates for each student
- Water colors and brushes for each student
- Black pens for each student
- Cups of rinsing water for each student
- White cardstock or art paper for each student
- Multiple kinds of seeds-flower and vegetable, nuts in their shell, dry corn, beans, unshelled sunflower
- Small twigs
- Gravel or tiny rocks
- Plastic bags
- Paper plates
- Magnifying glass for each student
- Seed Sorting Sheet (PDF)
- Chart paper and markers
- Seeds by Ken Robbins, The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle or any book about seeds
- Duct tape
- A field or grassy area
- Magnifying glasses fro each student
- Seed Sorting printable from Day 3
- One of each seed (or you may choose others) for each student: corn, sunflower, pinto bean, lima bean, or rye grass
- Small paper cup for each student
- Large clear plastic cups for each student
- Magnifying glasses for each student
- 9- by 12-inch black construction paper for each student
- Permanent markers
- Seed Growth Recording Sheet (PDF)
- Teacher sample
- Chart paper
Set Up and Prepare
- Soak the pinto beans in warm water for 24 hours.
- Set aside rinse water for paintbrushes.
- Gather the basket of fruits and vegetables.
- Cut apples and oranges in half for each pair of students.
- Set aside the rinse water for paintbrushes.
- Create one plastic bag for each student with a mixture of multiple kinds of seeds: flower, nuts, vegetable, beans, and unshelled sunflower.
- Gather small twigs.
- Gather gravel or tiny rocks (fish tank gravel is good).
- Copy the Seed Sorting Sheet (PDF) on cardstock for each student.
- Cut a 10-inch piece of duct tape for each student and stick it to a place where you can easily retrieve it.
- Make arrangements to visit a grassy area.
- Copy the Seed Growth Recording Sheet (PDF) for each student.
- Soak seeds in a bowl with 1 teaspoon bleach (so the seeds do not mold) for 5 minutes.
- Place one of each seed in a paper cup for each student.
- Cut a 12-inch strip of construction paper the width of the clear plastic cup for each student.
- Make a teacher sample of the project on Day 5 so there is no growth.
Day 1: What's Inside a Seed?
Step 1: Distribute a dry pinto bean and magnifying glass to each student. Remind them not to put it in their nose, ears or mouth! Ask the students what they think it is. Some will say a bean; others may say it is a seed. Tell them that it is a bean, which is a kind of seed. Ask: What is the job of a seed? Tell them that today we will discover the job of a seed. We will dissect, or open up, the seeds and look inside. Ask the students to open their seeds (without using their teeth) and describe what they see inside.
Step 2: After a few minutes, ask if anyone has opened their seed. Probably no one has been able. Ask the students what they wear when it is cold outside (a coat). Tell the students that a seed has a coat covering it until it is ready to grow. Right now it is asleep, waiting to wake up. It may sleep for a week, a month or even a year until it has the right amount of water and warmth. The seed will need water and the soil must be warm enough for it to grow.
Step 3: Distribute the soaked pinto beans to each student. Ask them to compare them to the dry one. Inform the students that these pinto beans have been soaked in warm water to imitate the warm soil. Invite the students to try to open these seeds and observe what is inside using their magnifying glasses. Most will see a new plant growing. If they do not find one, give them another bean.
Step 1: Gather the students together and ask what they saw inside the seed. Ask one student to draw what they observed on chart paper. Label the parts of the seed for the students with lines extending from the three parts: seed coat (the outer area), food (inside the bean) and the new plant.
Step 2: Invite the students to draw a picture of the inside of their seed, label its parts and paint them.
Step 3: Gather the students back together and ask them to tell about the new plant they saw in their seed. Ask the students what they think the new plant will do (grow). Ask: Then what is the job of a seed? (To grow into a plant).
Day 2: Where Do We Find Seeds?
Step 1: Gather the students in a circle. Remind students about the seeds they looked at the day before. Ask: From where do seeds come? Accept all answers. Show the students the basket of fruits and vegetables. Tell the students that seeds are found in the flowers and fruits of plants. Pass around the fruits and vegetables and ask students to use their senses to explore the fruits and vegetables. Then ask if they can tell you where the seeds are located. Most seeds will be inside, but some (corn and strawberries) are visible on the outside.
Step 2: Cut the fruits and vegetables open to reveal the seeds. Pass them around for students to explore with their senses.
Step 3: Pair the students and send them to their seats. Distribute paper plates, magnifying glasses, half an apple, and half an orange to each team. Keep the halves together so the teams will get to “open them.” Each student will get their own half piece of fruit to explore. Invite students to look with their magnifying glasses and discover the seeds in the fruit. Ask them to count the seeds they find.
Step 4: Distribute paper, pens and watercolors to the students. Ask them to draw the apple and orange half on their paper. Encourage them to write “apple” and “orange” next to their drawings. Invite the students to paint their drawings.
Step 1: When the paint has dried (watercolors dry quickly), invite students to glue some of their seeds on their paintings where they were found.
Step 2: Gather the students together and ask them to describe what was different about the seeds in the apple and the seeds in the orange. Accept all answers. Possible answers may include the number of seeds, the size and shape.
Day 3: Seed Sorting
Step 1: Remind the students about the time when they dissected, or opened up, the seed. Remind them about the job of a seed. (To grow into a plant). Tell them today we are going to discover what seeds are and what are not seeds.
Step 2: Distribute a plastic bag, paper plate and magnifying glass to each student. Invite the students to sort their objects any way they like: size, kind, color, shape, etc. Remind them to use their magnifying glasses to observe the objects. Ask students why they sorted a particular way. After a few minutes, ask the students to stop. Ask volunteers to explain how they sorted their objects.
Step 1: Tell students that now they are going to sort their seeds into two groups: seeds and not seeds. Allow a few minutes for students to resort their objects.
Step 2: Gather the students together and distribute a seed, twig, or piece gravel to each student. If two students have the same kind of object, that is fine. Ask: Who thinks they have a seed? Who thinks they do not have a seed? Ask them to separate into the two groups (seeds and no seeds). Assist the students in identifying their object. After a few minutes, have them share and identify their objects. Help them name the objects (e.g., flower seed, corn seed, bean, gravel, etc).
Step 3: Send the students back to their seats. Allow them to make any adjustments in their sorting. Distribute the Seed Sorting Sheet (PDF) to each student. Read the headings with them. Ask them to glue a few of the different objects onto their sheet in the appropriate columns — Seeds or NOT Seeds. Invite them to label any of the objects. Some may label them as “seed,” while others may be more specific if they know the name (e.g., pumpkin seed, nut)
Step 4: Gather the students together and have them share what they discovered about the objects that were seeds compared to the objects that were not seeds. Discuss how the seeds themselves differ?
Day 4: How Do Seeds Get Around?
Step 1: On one side of the chart paper, write the heading, “How People Travel.” Ask the students the many ways people travel. Accept all answers and chart. Tell the students that sometimes seeds are not always planted by people on purpose. Explain about all the weeds in your garden or at school that you did not plant, but somehow grew there. Tell them that seeds travel too. On the other side of the chart paper write, “How Seeds Travel.” Ask them how they think seeds travel. Accept all answers and chart.
Step 2: Read Seeds, The Tiny Seed, or another book about seeds and how they travel. Refer back to the story and ask the students if they want to add or change anything on their chart. Add information from the book about how seeds travel: wind, water, or animals — by passing through them, sticking to their fur, or buried and forgotten.
Step 1: Tell the students that people sometimes help seeds travel when they stick to our shoes or clothing and then fall off later. Place the duct tape roll around the cuff of each student’s pants with the sticky side facing outward.
Step 2: Take a walk through a grassy field.
Step 3: When finished, return to the classroom and examine with the magnifying glass to see if there are any seeds. You can add any to the Seed Sensation Sorting sheets from Day 3.
Day 5: Watch Them Grow
Step 1: Ask the students what we need in order to grow. Accept all answers. Ask them what they think seeds need. Distribute the magnifying glasses and paper cups with seeds to each student and ask them to examine them. Invite them to name the seeds.
Step 2: Distribute the clear plastic cups and the black construction paper. Ask students to write their name on the cups using a permanent marker. Ask the students to roll up the black construction paper and place in the clear cup so that it fills the jar.
Step 3: Have the students fill their cups with water.
Step 4: Tell them to wedge their seeds between the black construction paper and the cup, half way down and in a row. Show them your sample. Tell them that you will be placing yours in the cabinet and they will be placing theirs near a window. Remind them of the things a plant needs to grow. Ask them to predict what they think will happen to the seeds by the window and what will happen to the seeds in the cabinet. Record predictions on chart paper.
Step 5: Have the students place their projects near a window.
Step 1: Each day, have the students check their seeds and draw and label what they observe. You may not want to record each day, but have the students write the day on the Seed Growth Recording Sheet (PDF).
Step 2: After a few days, compare the students’ seeds with your sample. Ask the students why is there a difference? Review student predictions on chart paper and discuss outcome.
Step 3: Either carefully remove the students’ plants and replant in small clay pots or allow the students to take their plants home to replant with their parents. These could make wonderful Mother’s Day presents.
Supporting All Learners
Where appropriate, help students to label their pictures with beginning sound letters or words. Those that are able can write words or sentences. Take dictation for those students that need it.
Using many different seeds (ask students to bring some), make seed collages. Students can first start with a line drawing that they fill in by gluing seeds or they can glue them abstractly to a piece of cardstock or tag board. Encourage patterns and counting where possible.
Ask students to make a seed collection at home. Have them take an empty egg carton and try to find one seed for each pocket. Encourage them to look with their families in fruits and vegetables, in their kitchen cupboards, or around their home using the duct tape method (you may need to fasten tape to their pant leg before they go home).
- Seed dissection drawing/painting
- Apple and orange half project
- Seed Sensation Sorting sheet
- Seed collection on duct tape
- Seed growing cup and recording sheet
- Did the students make observations and record them?
- Did they participate in discussions?
- What kind of emergent writing is apparent?
- Was there enough time for students to be successful?
- What would I do differently?
Observe how students investigate during these experiments. How are they recording growth? How do they participate in group discussions?