Spring is an exciting time for preschool children. Birds are building new nests, trees are sprouting new leaves, and gardens are coming back to life. Preschoolers enjoy watching the garden plants grow, but they may not know where the plants come from, or what makes them grow.
Spring is also a good time for some preschool science experiments. Here is an easy lima bean experiment to help your child learn:
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- what seeds are
- how seed grow into plants
- what seeds need to grow
Before the Experiment
Before performing this experiment, help your child discover there are many different types of seeds.
Collect a variety of seeds to show your preschooler, or have your preschooler help you find seeds. A fun activity might be to visit a garden center together and look at the different seeds that are available.
Seeds are found in many different places:
- seeds grow inside fruit
- we eat seeds like corn, nuts, wheat
- animals eat seeds like birdseed, pinecones, acorns
Seeds can grow into many different things:
- shrubs and trees
- foods we eat
Seeds can also travel in many different ways:
- Some are carried by birds are animals. Has your child ever had a burr stuck to his clothes after playing outside? That was a seed that wanted a ride.
- Some seeds are blown by the wind, like milkweed and dandelion seeds. If you have dandelions available to you, your child can pretend to be the wind. Blow on the dandelion and watch how the dandelion seeds are carried along by their own parachutes.
- Some plants keep their seeds inside seedpods. The seedpod dries up and the seeds pop up. Sometimes they make an exploding sound when they pop.
- Other seeds float through the air.
Lima Bean Experiment
This lima bean experiment will help your child learn what a seed is, and what a seed needs to grow.
For the experiment, you will need:
- dry lima beans (you can usually purchase these in bulk at the grocery store)
- small containers
- magnifying glass
What You Do:
Look at a dry lima bean through a magnifying glass. There is a small scar on the bean where water can enter the seed. Can you find it?
Put some of the lima beans in your small containers. Cover the beans with water and let soak for a few hours.
After the beans have soaked, come back and see if there are any changes. You should observe that the beans in the water are now swollen and wrinkled.
Ask your preschooler to compare it to the dry beans. What differences does he see?
Carefully open the swollen lima bean and see what’s inside. A new baby plant has begun to form inside the lime bean. Examine it closely with the magnifying glass. Does it look like the plants we see outside?
What You Learned:
- A seed is baby plant
- Many kinds of plants come from seeds
- Seeds need water to sprout
A seed has food inside for the baby plant. The plant can live on food in the seed until it’s old enough to get food from the soil, like the plants in the garden do.
Written by Rachel Paxton.