This little Greenhouse is SOO easy to make and is so much fun for kids to watch their plants sprout! I got this idea from an activity that my oldest son did in a Mommy n’ Me class I did with him when he was 2 years old. It stuck with me and I was excited to try it with my Tiny Tots.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- Green paper (I used construction paper but cardstock would have been nicer)
- Ziplock bag
- Potting Soil
- Spray bottle with water (or a small measuring cup to add water)
- 2 seeds (we used bean seeds as they sprout quickly)
- Scissors, pencil, ruler
The paper Greenhouse is not a necessary part of the experiment but it sure does look cute. I drew a house shape on green paper and then cut out the center so that the ziplock bag could show through.
We added about 1 cup of potting soil to the ziplock bag
Then we sprayed the soil generously with water so that it was moist but not wet.
Then seal up the Ziplock bag.
Tape the bag to the back of the Greenhouse. I used 2 strips of Painter’s Tape to hold it up (Mainly because my kids use up all my transparent tape for their art projects! I think I need to hide one for my personal use!)
Turn it around and tape it to a sunny window. No need to water the soil since the moisture is trapped inside the bag. The sun heats up the air in the bag much like a real greenhouse. After 6 days of checking the bag, we saw the seed sprouting!
Here’s a close up. You can see the brown seed coat still attached to the tall sprout. If you look closely in the picture below, you can see that the second seed has also barely begun to sprout, but it’s still buried in the soil.
My middle son was so excited that he grabbed a ruler and measured it screaming, “Mummy, it’s FOUR INCHES tall!”
Now how fantastic is that?!
The Science Behind the Activity:
This experiment is a twist on the the typical “planting seeds” activities that many preschools do in the spring. Gardening is a wonderful learning opportunity for kids of all ages! Planting a seed and watching it sprout is so fun for kids to watch. My boys checked their greenhouse every morning to monitor its progress. For older children, this is a great way to teach them how to keep records, make daily height measurements and observations, draw scientific sketches of what they see and to experiment with different growing conditions.
The “greenhouse” part of the activity is planting the seeds in a bag. Since it is a closed system, the moisture in the soil evaporates from the soil by the heat inside but then “rains” down as it cools so the soil doesn’t need to be watered. The bag also retains heat much like the glass of a real greenhouse. The clear bag allows kids to watch the plant sprout from the seed which is not usually possible when seeds are planted in pots.
I have also done this activity with cotton balls instead of soil which is another way for children to watch the seed sprout and the roots form.
Carefully plant the bean sprout into a pot with proper soil and drainage. Make daily measurements to see how fast the plant grows. For older kids, make a graph of the daily growth.
Where I got my idea from: My son’s “pre”-preschool teacher, Erin O’Neill. She is a fantastic example of what a preschool teacher should be like:)