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Monday, May 04, 2009

Botany in the Window

To make the cards more hands-on and kick off the wonderful warm weather, my son and I grew a bean seed in our window. I used to do this over and over as a kid, I just loved it. This was just an activity we did out of boredom one day and I plan to do it again in a week or so with different types of seeds. Here's how to do it...


1 paper towel
1 ziplock bag (sandwhich sized)
1 seed
tape & a sunny window

Fold the paper towel so it's the right size to fit inside the bag. Get the paper towel wet and then push on the paper towel to remove excess water. Put a seed in the middle of the towel. Close the ziploc bag..push the bag while closing to remove as much air as possible. Then tape it on a window with the seed facing outside.

**I did this experiement on the same day I planted my garden because my kids are always bummed out that they have to wait 7-10 days in the germination period until they start seeing the small plants they helped me plant. So this way the got results much sooner. We talked about how the seeds grow roots first and then the stem and we have to wait until get it's tall enough to poke through all the soil we buried it in before we get to see the plant. Then I had my son draw a picture in a little book everyday of the seed and write a sentence or two about what he observed. we found that the 3rd day the bean seed was cracked and the 4th day we had roots.

This also is a great way to show your kids the primary root and secondary roots, the root hairs, root tips and if you have a magnifying glass the root caps as well. They really get a up close and personal look with these. There's no way to transplant these in a garden without damaging the roots so after the plant as made a stem and it's first leaves we take it out to 'feel' the roots and make it a multi-sensory learning experience, which we all know how children learn quicker and retain the information better when more senses in the brain are used. The roots will only stay healthy for about an hour or so before they start browning and you can use this as a learning experience as well about the importance of making sure your plants have enough water and how the soil retains the moisture for the water to keep the roots moist, etc. You can see how long until the plant dies once the water source has been removed as well.

This is a "root viewer" for kids. I don't know how well these work and I'm guessing you need to plant the seed toward the side of the glass and not in the center. These cost around $25-30. You can easily just use a wide mouth mason jar (for canning) to plant them as well. But this would be a great activity to do after the ziploc baggie so they can see the plant mature. Plant different types of seeds so you can see the different types of roots like a carrot or radish for a tubular seed and then some other seeds. It will make your summer a great learning experience. Don't forget to take pictures every couple of days or everyday and make a scrapbook so your kids can go back and remember the stages of how the plants grow. You can also have them add labels to one of the pictures and definitions of the parts next to another one. It will make a great botany learning book that they'll love even more since they made it themselves and they can use it to review whenever they want to help them retain the information. My son is always so excited to show people what he did and he loves taking pictures of everything so we will be taking pictures this morning of our plants and we will make a scrapbook at the end of the summer or as we go along.

Lastly, (I know this is a super long post, thanks for staying with me) you can use the tiny section of the stem from the ziploc baggie and tiny section of the leaf and one of the root tips and the primary root and put them on microscope slides and view them under a microscope. We just bought a microscope, so I'm excited to use it for this as well!

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