This is the second in a series of Kitchen Chemistry articles with activities you can do with your child at home.
Plant a Seed
Supplies Required: Beans, paper towel, zippered plastic bag, water
Directions: Place damp paper towel in zippered plastic bag, add beans along the side. Zip shut and tape to a window in a sunny spot. Observe!
What’s happening? The beans will sprout! The sealed bag will act as a terrarium, with condensation forming and keeping the paper towel moist. Lima beans will grow the fastest, and soaking overnight will speed them up.
Seeds do not need extra nutrients to germinate (sprout) because what they need is contained in their shell.
Try planting other types of beans in the same way and see what grows the fastest. Does a sunny location make them go faster than a shady window? What if you left the bag open?
This is a great activity to extend into reading with books such as The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle, or The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss. eXtension.org's Story Stretcher Database offers an excellent Story Stretcher on The Carrot Seed with other ideas to extend your children’s learning.
Science can seem very daunting to explore with children, however, with just the tools in your home kitchen, you can easily create fun experiments and opportunities for children to learn and explore! Take time to extend your science activities by linking with children’s books.
Search the web for answers you don’t know, or ideas for more science experiments. MSU Extension's Science Work Team, part of the Academic Success work group in the Children and Youth Institute, also offers resources for educators, 4-H clubs and families, as well as science workshops and hands-on science opportunities at various venues throughout the year.
Although it can be hard to find that extra time to stop and explore some of the many questions kids ask, it is a great opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills and to begin learning more about science! The next time you hear, “Why does…?” take the time to say, “Let’s find out!”
Carrie Shrier is an Extension Educator in the Children and Youth Institute. She has worked with MSU Extension for seven years, currently providing programming in the area of Early Childhood Education. She has experience working with young children in many areas, as a former preschool teacher and center director and also as the mother of four young children. Carrie holds a Bachelors Degree in Child Development from Michigan State University.