Spring is in the air, and this time of year offers a great opportunity to teach young children about how plants grow by getting them involved in this easy springtime planting project. Radish seeds are very quick to sprout, and if they are started in a damp paper towel, you can peek at their progress every day. As they grow bigger you can talk with your child about how plants reproduce, and how a little seed can grow into a mature plant.
Plants grow from seeds: Pour several radish seeds from the packet onto a paper towel-lined dish or plate. Let your child carefully pour some water over them, enough to dampen the paper towel but not enough to make a puddle. Place another damp paper towel over the top of them.
Plants need water: Each day you can check by gently lifting the paper towel to peek at the seeds. Have your child keep the paper towel moist with a few droplets of water or spray from a spray bottle each day, explaining that all plants needs water to survive. Within a few days the radish seeds should start to open up and put out delicate roots and tiny, pale green leaves.
Plants have roots that drink water from the soil: After a few more days, your radish seedlings will have larger, greener leaves and longer roots. Now it’s time to plant! Have your child use a spoon to fill a small cup with potting soil, and use his finger to make several small indentations in the dirt. Help him gently place the seedlings in the indentations, and sprinkle a little more dirt to cover them. Explain how plants absorb water from the ground through their roots.
Plants have leaves that make food from sunlight: Once the seedlings are planted, move the cup over to a window and talk about how plants use the power of the sun to make food for themselves. In a couple of days the seedlings should start pushing green leaves through the soil. The complex mechanisms of photosynthesis can wait until high school; right now you can just talk about how plants use sunlight to make their own food and grow bigger.