Gardening with Kids

By Rachel McMinn, Early Childhood Educator, Buckle My Shoe Preschool March 31, 2020

Bringing nature into your home is a valuable learning experience for your child. Helping a tiny seed to sprout and grow is an experience that imparts empathy, self-sufficiency, connection to the earth, and ability to recognize a life cycle. 

Now that the weather is starting to ease up and we are having warmer and sunnier days, it's the perfect time to start planting with your little one! This project is beginner level and has a very big success rate (we do this in our classroom of two-year-olds each Spring). Even those with a black thumb will find their little seed growing in just a few days right before your eyes. 

What do you need? 

  • 3 or 4 Dry beans (pinto, navy, kidney, lima* we usually use jumbo lima beans)
  • OR seeds from fruits and veggies you have in your home - apple, lemon, pepper, orange (these will take longer to sprout)
  • A sandwich or quart size ziplock bag
  • A paper towel
  • A small cup of water

Step One: Before planting, we like to read the book Jack and the Beanstalk. Then our beans/seeds take on a new level of magic and amazement as they grow. After the story, fold the paper towel into a square (1/4 of the normal size). 

Step Two: Place your beans in the fold so it is tucked in like it's wearing a blanket. The beans are sleeping, after all, and we need a cozy bed and water to wake it up!

Step Three: Carefully place the "bed" into the ziplock bag. 

Step Four: Pour in a little bit of water to saturate the paper towel. You don't want a puddle in there, so if your child over pours, simply tip the bag and get the extra water out. Seal the bag. 

Step Five: Hang the ziplock bag on a sunny window with a piece of tape. 

Step Six: Wait a few days and you should see some growing happening!! When the beanstalk gets large enough that it's near the top of the bag, open it up and let it keep growing. When you get to this point, you will need to add more water for the bean to continue growing. 

Step Seven: Now that your bean is big and strong you can plant it in a pot with soil and continue to love and care for it. 

Rachel McMinn is an early childhood educator at Buckle My School Preschool in Tribeca, who has taught the young 2-year-olds for almost ten years. She holds a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College and a Writing degree from Pratt Institute. She lives in Brooklyn with her infant daughter, post-production & screenwriting husband, and two attention-seeking cats. 
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