Planting Seeds with Kids: 8 Skills They Will Learn

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We have been planting seeds in our family for years now.  We always start with the tomato and pepper plants indoors. As the boys have gotten older, I have been using this activity more and more as a learning tool.  There are so many skills children can learn while planting seeds.  Below are eight different skill areas you can target from planning skills to math to art!

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Planning

Planning skills are ones that we might not traditionally think of when we are checking off school subjects in our homeschools.  But, they are so important to functioning in all situations in life.  There are lots of opportunities to plan with a project like planting seeds.  What seeds to buy?  How many and how much do you want to spend?  What containers will you plant them in?  What kind of soil will you plant them in?  Where will you put them while you are waiting for them to germinate?

Decide at which points in the process you want to get your children involved.  My youngest helped me pick the seeds out of a catalog this year.  He also put our shelves together for holding our seeds.  I pulled the containers and some leftover soil from last year out and we were ready to go!

boy putting metal shelves together

If you are not sure where to start planting seeds with your children, check out the post, Starting Seeds Indoors.

Reading

Children can practice their reading skills by reading the description and the directions on the packet.  This is a great exercise for reading and understanding factual information so you can apply it.  You will likely have to point out the different places to look for information and keep it as simple as your child needs.

On the seed packet below, the front of the packet may be enough information for your child to read and then answer questions such as “What kind of seeds are these?”,  “How many days will it take once we plant the seeds until we can harvest the carrots?”, and “When are we supposed to plant these seeds?”

Front side of a packet of carrot seeds

For an older child, you could have them read the back of the seed packet and answer more complex questions such as “How far apart and how deep should we plant the seeds?”, “How many days until we should see seedlings emerge?”, “Are there any special instructions?”, and “Is there anything we should NOT do with these seeds?”

Back side of carrot seed packet

Following Directions

Whether your children are reading the directions themselves or you are telling them the directions, this is a great activity for practicing following directions!  They need to pay attention to how many seeds they are putting in each container and how deep they are placing them.  Maybe certain seeds need to go in certain containers.  Children will also need to follow directions about watering the plants.  If they don’t follow the directions accurately, then the consequence may be the plants don’t grow.  So this activity has built-in incentive!

Handwriting

You will need to somehow label each seed container.  You may write on the container itself or write the label on a stick to insert into the container.  It is important to write clearly so that we know what seeds are in each container.  Again, built-in incentive to do our best work!

Seeds planted in small, black containers with names written on wooden craft sticks and stuck in the containers.

Math

There is so much math you could target with seed starting!  At the most basic level, you can count how many seeds to put in each container and how many containers you want of each type of seed.  You could use addition or multiplication to figure out how many of each seed you will need to have enough to fill that many containers.  For example, we typically put two seeds in a container so if we want 8 containers of cherry tomatoes, how many seeds will we need all together? 16!

You could also target measurement.  How deep should each seed be planted?  Pull out a ruler to see how deep that is and then work on estimating that depth as you are planting the seeds.  Later when you plant the seedlings into a garden, you can work on measurement while spacing them correctly.  If you want a fun activity to get you ready for that step, check out the project-based learning activity below.

Cover of the Build a Garen Math Project Based Learning ActivityThis year, we area also graphing when the seedlings emerge and will be looking for other ways to graph data and analyze it through the spring.

Science

Planting seeds is the perfect activity to further study the plant life cycle, the anatomy of seeds and plants, the processes of germination, photosynthesis, and reproduction and/or plant classification.  Download our FREE “How Does a Seed Grow?” booklet below to walk your child through some of this information.

Pages from booklet How Does a Seed Grow?

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How do seeds grow booklet

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History

People have been planting seeds for thousands of years.  You could discuss various topics related to the history of agriculture including the first agricultural revolution in areas such as Mesopotamia or the agricultural revolution in the 1700 and 1800s in Europe when technological advances were made.  Reading about George Washington Carver and all the contributions he made to agricultural in the United States is another wonderful way to study the history of farming.

Here is a short video about The History of Agriculture in Our World.

You also could research Victory Gardens, which were planted during World War II, or different gardens that have been planted at the White House.

Art

You can even work art in by drawing the seeds you are planting and/or the pictures of the vegetables from the seed packets.  You can talk about looking closely at the details and drawing the different elements of shape (dots, circles, straight lines, curved lines, and angle lines.)  This will also focus your children’s attention on the fine details of seeds and plants and the beauty of nature.

Drawing of beets, whole and cut open, next to a seed packet with a similar drawing.

What other skills have you worked on while planting seeds?  Comment below!

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