The Sprouting Seed Race  

Adapted from Scholastic Early Childhood Today, April 1994.

Aim: Children will observe and compare the growth rates of different seeds.

Materials: Two different kinds of seeds (preferably of greatly different sized, such as radishes and beans), potting soil, two small planting containers (such as clear plastic cups) for each child, a pencil or dull scissors to poke holes in the cups, masking tape or labels, a watering can, experience-chart paper, and markers.


Gather a few children at an activity table where your planing supplies are laid out. Let each child prepare two planters, one for each type of seed. Show children how to do this by poking two or three small holes in the bottom and filling them almost to the top with soil. Now take out the seeds, keeping the two varieties separate. Talk about how they are the same and different. After some discussion, give each child a few seeds of one kind to plant in one container, then a few of the other kind to plant in a separate container. Help them keep the seeds separate, and label the containers with their names and the seed varieties. Together, give the seeds a little water and put them in a sunny spot.

Hang up a piece of experience-chart paper with two columns, each headed by a seed name. At group time, after all interested children have sown their seeds, write at the top of the paper, "Seed Guesses." Talk about what children think will happen to the seeds. Introduce the work "sprout" if children aren't familiar with it. Then ask, "Which seeds do you think will sprout first?" Write down children's names in on of the two columns to show which seeds they think will sprout first. Remind children to watch the seeds carefully over the next few days and weeks to see what happens.

Watching Them Grow

Make a second chart titled, "Which seed sprouted first?" Write children's names down the left side and make two columns, one for each type of seed. Hang the chart where children can reach it easily. Then each day, check for sprouts with small groups of children, watering as necessary. When children see the first of their seeds sprouting, help them find the box on the chart that corresponds to their name and the appropriate type of seed. Let them draw a picture of the sprout, make a check mark, or show in another way which seed sprouted first. Help children compare their results to their predictions.


Some children's seeds may not sprout. If this upsets them, let them plant again. Leave your chart hanging until everyone who wants to has a chance to record which of their seeds sprouted first.

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