This experiment comes from a great new book called The Curious Kid’s Science Book by Asia Citro. It’s a little different to a lot of other science books for kids that I have used. The experiments are very open-ended. There isn’t a lot of step-by-step instructions or explanations of scientific concepts – stick with me, that’s a good thing – instead kids are encouraged use their own innate curiosity to lead their own experiments.
The book poses a question, things to consider while running the experiment and ideas for collecting data, but then leaves the rest open to the child. How the child runs the experiment is entirely up to them.
The book has a great chapter on exploring plants and seeds including looking at how plants grow and what they need to grow well.
Lately the kids and I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen garden. We’ve planted beans and peas, carrots, zucchini, cucumber, corn and capsicum. We have such lovely conversations in the garden while we’re planting; there’s so much to enjoy and learn when you’re pottering around the garden together.
Sarah, in particular, always has a lot of questions; what seed is this? How much compost do we need? What is compost? How do you know when the carrots are ready? How deep do we plant the seeds?
It’s nice to be able to talk together but it is also nice to try some experiments and see if Jack and Sarah can find some of the answers for themselves.
So, how deep do you have to plant a seed to get the best growth? Isn’t that a great question for investigation. Jack (6.5 yrs) and Sarah (4.5 yrs) were so enthusiastic about this experiment.
I found this wonderful seed viewer in a Facebook group and presented it along with some seeds, soil and our lifecycle of a green bean plant figurines. The kids wondered…how deep should we plant the seeds?
Jack: “Not too deep. The plant needs sun. The seed can’t get to the sun if it’s down the bottom.”
Sarah: “Here’s a good spot. The plant can grow up from here.”
I try to encourage Jack and Sarah to document their work – it really allows them to show their understanding of the experiment as well as encourages purposeful writing. Sarah’s says, I think Sarah’s seed (will grow the best). Jack’s is written in true Jack style with lots of arrows, lines, numbers and little coded drawings. I love that he thinks one seed will grow into a strawberry and that Sarah’s seed will wilt if it’s not watered.
I have a large whiteboard fixed to the wall at child height in our homeschool studio which is our wonder board. I use it to keep track of any inquiries or experiments we are doing – we add pictures, questions, data, that sort of thing.
Here, for this experiment, we are using it to keep track of our seeds’ growth. The book suggests some questions you can pose to your children while running the experiment and collecting data, including:
- How many seeds will you use?
- What depths are you going to use?
- How long will you run the experiment? and
- How will you measure the growth?
The kids have decided they will run the experiment for two weeks. They’ll check on it everyday and water the seeds every second day. And Jack had an awesome idea of how we can record the data (if you follow us on Instagram, you can probably guess what it is). I can’t wait to show you that one.
And check out the book, if you can. I’ve really been enjoying it. There’s experiments for plants, water, bacteria, engineering, environmental science, chemical reactions with baking soda and investigating living things. It’s great.
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