Gardening with Preschoolers: Germinating Bean Seeds

bean seed growth 


If you have little ones in the house, this activity is an easy and fun way to teach them about seeds and plant germination. 


This project has been around for years, and you can find a great lesson plan done by the Smithsonian HERE.


bean seed square



To germinate bean seeds, you will need:

bean seeds,

plastic zipper bags,

paper towels,


and a curious preschooler.


preschool gardening activity


I started by having a conversation with my son about how plants grow.  Thanks to Blue’s Clues, he already knew that plants need water, sun, soil, and air to grow. 


We talked about how in every seed there is a tiny plant and food to help it grow.  This concept might be foreign to preschoolers, in which case, a seed that has been soaked in water overnight can be sliced in two to reveal the inside of the seed.


When a seed first starts to grow, it is called germination.  Germination can be done without soil.


bean seed project


The first step in creating a plastic bag “greenhouse” is to wet a folded paper towel.  It should hold a fair amount of water, but not be dripping wet.


bean seed in baggie activity


Slip the paper towel into the baggie.  Place one bean seed between the towel and the bag and zip it closed.


germinating beans in plastic bags


The bags need to be in a sunny place, so I found that taping them to a window that gets direct sunlight is a good way to go.


waiting to germinate


Check the bags each day for progress.  If your child is a little older, you could have him chart or journal the progress.


condensation forming


Over time, condensation will build up on the inside of the bag.


bean seed in plastic bag


After a few days (five for us), the seeds will begin to sprout!


germinating a bean seed in a plastic bag


After a few more days, you should be able to see the roots spreading out and the leaves beginning to peek out of the seed coat.


bean seedling labels


You will need to explain to your preschooler that these seeds are just germinating (starting to grow).  Since they are not growing in nutritious soil, eventually they will wither.


Next week, I will be sharing another Gardening with Preschoolers idea as part of The Brassy Apple’s S.O.S. series.

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  1. Sarah says

    So cool! I’d love to try this with my class to send home. At what stage would you suggest potting the germinated seed?

    • madincrafts says

      The seed germinates quickly, so there isn't enough time for mold to grow. The seed doesn't need air to germinate — a seed germinating underground doesn't have air either. You do have to get rid of the seed after it germinates. You could try transplanting it, but I have never tried that successfully. Hope that helps!

  2. says

    My daughter is three and asks tons of questions about seeds and what happens to them when they’re in the soil. She saw a scheme of seed germination in some of my books and knowing it’s a bean on the picture she wanted to know if this was a “worm eating the bean”. I explained to her that there was no worm, but a part of the seed, but the questions that came after that were many and many. Thank you for this idea, now I can show Ruby the whole growing process and this will do abetter work than my explanations. Greets!


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