Investigating plants and seeds is a perfect spring activity. Buying special equipment to start and grow seeds kept me from doing such projects for a long time. With a few simple materials (most of which you probably already have) your class can create their very own classroom greenhouse. As an added bonus, this greenhouse keeps spills inside and the classroom a little cleaner!
The greenhouse is quite simply made from a clear storage container with a clear lid. It serves the same purpose as a true greenhouse but on a much smaller scale. The light can pass through the plastic and the warmth gets trapped inside the container. The container also helps to keep soil spills to a minimum. Once the project is over, any spilled soil or water can be rinsed out and the container can be used again to store classroom materials.
This year, instead of buying special seed starting trays, we reused other materials that would have otherwise been recycled. Playdough containers made perfect seed starting containers. We also used plastic cups from ice cream, yogurt containers, and glass jelly jars. The students can bring in recycled containers from home or find them in the classroom materials.
To start the seeds, fill the small containers with potting soil, plant the seed near the surface and cover with soil. Keep the soil moist but not wet. Before the seeds sprout, they just need to be kept warm. Once they feel the water and the warmth, they know its time to start growing. We kept our greenhouse by a heater for warmth until they sprouted then we moved them into the sunlight. If the seed greenhouse is getting too warm in the sun, open the lid to help lower the temperature a bit. Depending on which seeds you choose, they will take about 3 to 7 days to sprout.
We had fun finding seeds in our snacks to plant in our greenhouse. During this project, we planted 3 different seeds. Instead of buying seed packets, we had a fresh veggie snack and each student saved one seed from the snack. After snack, they planted their seed in a recycled container, labeled the container and placed it in one of the classroom greenhouses. It was fun for the kids to see what their finished project may be (with lots of care and attention to their plants over the summer). I’ve tried it with seed packets before and the planting from their snacks seems to make a bigger impact.
Summer squash, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes were the plants we decided to plant. Summer squash is the fastest growing of the three and tomatoes will take the longest to mature. It was fun to have the variety because the quick sprouting squash piqued their interest at the beginning of the project and the slower seeds built anticipation for what was to come. They loved watching the progress throughout each day and were surprised to see a difference between the beginning of the school day and the end.
Other seeds that are great to kindergartners to plant include beans, peas, chia, marigolds, and sunflowers. They all sprout quickly and are easy to take care of.
Materials Needed for Project:
- Clear Storage Container with Clear Lid (greenhouse)
- Recycled containers for planting seeds (playdough cup, yogurt cup, individual milk carton)
- Seeds of choice: tomato, squash, cucumber, beans, peas, sunflowers are good for little ones