Plant Activities for Preschool

Instructor: Sharon Linde
Young children are naturally curious about the world around them. They question where, why and how as they learn how things work. Add in their love for all things dirty and you have the makings for lots of learning activities focusing on plants!

Why Teach About Plants?

Have you ever taken a walk with a preschooler? They love to pick up, look at, explore and question leaves, nuts, twigs, rocks - just about anything they find. Because plants have a straightforward, easy-to-understand life cycle, introducing plant activities at this age helps 'plant' schema about how all life works. Schema is a cognitive base for thoughts that allow us to organize and understand information, which we then apply to new learning. In other words, it's the stuff that gets stuck in your head that you build on later. Because plants have four basic parts - roots, stem, leaves and flowers - children of this age can easily remember and identify them. Teaching about plants naturally lays the groundwork for future scientific learning and understanding. So, ready to get your hands dirty?

Getting Started Inside

You don't need to be outside to teach about plants. Many plant activities can be completed inside, and some may begin inside and transfer outside later on.

Growing Beans

For this activity, you'll need a clean, empty jar or plastic baggie, a few paper towels, and a bean. Most types of beans work great, so you may try several differing types to compare.

Wet the paper towels well and place them in your jar or baggie. Wedge the bean next to the towels, facing out so the children can view it. Make sure the towels are sufficiently damp; if you're not sure, add a little more water now. Then, seal the lid/baggie and place in the sun. In a few days, shoots will appear coming out of the bean.

seed bags

Tip: If using plastic bags, you can tape these in a window.

Growing Potatoes

Explore how to grow new plants from old using a potato. You'll need to gather toothpicks, a clear, clean glass jar, and a potato. Begin by inserting a few toothpicks into the potato around the circumference, about mid-way. Balance the potato on the jar using the toothpicks to hold it up. Pour enough water into the jar that the bottom of the potato is covered by a few inches. After a week or so, the potato will develop roots, which you can continue to watch grow!

growing potato

Tip: If you don't have a potato, you can also use an avocado pit.

Growing Carrots

This activity is slightly different than the bean or potato plant because green, leafy sprouts will grow on top. To begin, cut off the top few inches of a carrot. If there is any green remaining, carefully remove it with your hands - don't cut it off. Place the carrot stubs with the tops facing up in a shallow dish of water. In a week or so, new green shoots will appear on the top of the carrot and continue to grow.

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