Rooting Around

Did you know that the most important part of a plant is the bit you don’t see? This activity – which you may remember as a biology experiment from your own schooldays – is educational as well as fun.  Your children will thoroughly enjoy watching their seed come to life, start sprouting and form its root system.

Plants can’t live without water and food, and it’s the roots’ job to keep them happy, absorbing moisture and nutrients from the soil. Roots also anchor the plant securely to the earth so it can grow tall.  This activity demonstrates all that in a way that children can easily see – not only will they learn about germination, but they’ll also see how plants develop and grow.

bean sprouting

Here’s how to help your child become an undercover detective and discover what’s going on in the secret underground world of the root.

What you need :

  • a glass jar or container
  • a dried bean or pea
  • a rolled-up piece of blotting paper, or a handful of cotton-wool / crumpled kitchen roll

What you do :

  • Soak the beans or peas overnight – they’ll start to absorb moisture, and will start to swell up ready for germination
  • Coil the sheet of blotting paper around the inside of the jar. Alternatively, pack the jar loosely with cotton-wool or crumpled kitchen roll
  • Pop the bean halfway down between the packing and the glass
  • Fill the jar with water and empty most of it out again. This wets the packing material and gives the seed the moisture it needs to germinate
  • Stand the jar on a windowsill. Don’t allow the packing material to dry out
  • Stand by for action!

When your seedling is about 6” tall, why not let your child plant it in a pot or directly in the garden, and let it grow and produce delicious pods?

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