This is a wonderful experiment that teaches your child how plants grow from seeds. It will also help your child appreciate nature, and care for a living thing (even if that is a pet plant for now ). At our CEFA Early Learning schools, this is an experiment that even our one year old children love to participate in!

Best Ages for This Activity

Two to five.

How to Make It


  • A clear glass or jar (or plastic cup)
  • One paper towel
  • 6 cotton balls
  • Any dry bean (black bean, green bean, kidney bean – or even one of each to see the difference)
  • Water
  • Paper and pencil (to draw what you see) – colours are good too!

Let’s Get Started!

  • Have a conversation with your child about how plants grow – how does a seed eventually become a plant? Or a tree? How long does it take? Figure out where you can get answers from: a book? The internet? A gardener? Grandpa?
  • You could also watch a video together that explains the process, like this one.
  • Ask your child if they would like to try growing a plant from a seed. If so, here are the steps:
  • Choose your seed. You can do different types of seeds, each in its own glass, or keep it simple and just do one seed.
  • Grab your small clear glass or plastic cup
  • Fold a paper towel and get it wet, then line the inside of your glass with it
  • If you have different types of seeds, label your cups
  • Fill the cup with wet cotton balls but not soaked, so it does not get mouldy.
  • Tuck in your bean between the glass and the paper towel.

  • Put your cup next to a window where it can get sunlight (for warmth), and where your child can freely observe.
  • I would encourage your child to draw what they see, and return every day to observe and draw again
  • Now all you need to do is wait, and make sure that the paper towel stays moist
  • After two or three days, your bean will start to grow – much to the amazement of your little one.
  • When your beans reach about 15 centimetres (within about 3 weeks), you can plant them into potting soil and water daily

Learning Opportunities

This is a great S.T.EM. or science activity. Your child also learns, through observation, how nature works and how plants grow from seeds. By taking care of their plant every day, your child will learn empathy and responsibilty. They will also work on their fine motor skills by using the spray bottle (if you use one) and drawing skills, all precursors to writing.

Make sure you use math vocabulary when you observe (measure the seed, ask how tall it is, how long it took to grow, how much it grew in one day, how many squirts of water were needed, what colour is the seed? Did the colour change? What shape is the seed? And the leaf? etc.) compare seeds if you use more than one type.

Extended Learning Opportunities

  • Try planting different seeds and see how long they take to grow
  • Paint a beautiful pot for your new plant!

CEFA tip: Remember to let your child do as much of the process as they are capable of.

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