Nuts and Seeds
Objective: Children will learn about seeds and nuts and will explore how trees produce them.
What You Will Need
- Time for a walk outside
- Resealable plastic bags (quart size) – one per child, labeled with their names
- Masking tape – 1 roll
- Permanent marker
- Magnifying glasses – 1 per child
- Water in a spray bottle
What To Do
- Take your class outside to a shady area.
- Explain that each season, there are many changes in nature. Trees and plants experience many changes. Some trees drop seeds or nuts on the ground so that new trees can grow from them.
- Tell the children that they will be looking on the ground for seeds and nuts.
- Distribute the plastic bags, labeled with each child’s name.
- Take a slow walk through an area with a good number of trees. Invite the children to collect any nuts or seeds that they find. Each child only needs a couple of seeds or nuts.
- When you get back to the classroom, distribute magnifying glasses.
- Have the children take one of the seeds or nuts out of their bags to examine (see Guiding Student Inquiry). Provide assistance in opening the seed or nut if they would like to investigate the inside of the seed.
- Spray some water into their bags with the remaining seeds, and close the bags securely. Then, tape each one to the window.
- Have the children observe the bags each day and record their observations. You can create clipboards for them using cardboard and paper clips. Children can draw pictures of what they see each day.
Guiding Student Inquiry
- Describe what you found when we walked around outside.
- Tell me where you found that.
- Use your senses to describe that object (color, shape, size, how it smells and feels).
- What do you think it is? Do you think it came from a tree or plant?
- Describe what you see inside of the seeds.
Explore, Extend & Integrate
- Do some research with the children and try to discover the plant that their seed or nut came from.
- Explore the variety of nuts and seeds that people eat (see Lesson Tips). Put a variety of unshelled nuts in the discovery area. You can use nuts such as walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts. For younger children, you may want to seal the nuts in clear plastic containers because the nuts can be a choking hazard. Include empty containers from products that contain nuts (nut butters, candy bars, ice cream, cooking oil, cereal, and crackers). The children can also sort, sequence, count, and match the nuts. Provide a wooden block, and let the children crack open the nuts and look inside. Note: Tree nut and peanut allergies are very serious, and some children are allergic to different kinds of nuts. Check with parents/guardians to make sure that it is safe for all of your children to participate in this activity.
Check for Children’s Understanding
- Was each child able to collect nuts and seeds from nature?
- Did each child place a seed or nut into their bag and add water so that they could observe the reaction?
- Can children talk about how the tree produces nuts and seeds?
Did You Know?
A tree is a perennial plant with a trunk, supporting branches, and leaves in most species. The parts of a tree are the roots, trunk, branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit. Some trees have needles instead of leaves. Many trees grow flowers and then fruit. The flowers and fruit are where the seeds come from to grow new plants. A tree nut is the dried fruit from the tree; it comes in a hard shell. Nuts are dry fruits with a hard shell and a seed. There is only one seed inside, and the seed remains attached to the inside wall of the nut. Most nuts come from trees and bushes, unlike most seeds, which come from fruits. A seed is a tiny plant inside a protective shell. Unlike a nut, a seed can free itself from the shell.
Many seeds are edible and are a major food source for humans. Cereals and legumes come from seeds, and seeds provide most cooking oils. Seeds are also the source of some medicines. Nuts contain a very high concentration of healthy fats and nutrients. Nuts and seeds are used for food and are an important source of nutrients for humans and animals.
- fall – a season of the year between summer and winter; also called autumn.
- nut – a large seed that grows in a hard shell; people or animals can eat nuts.
- seed – the little part of a plant that grows into a new plant; seeds can have flowers.
- acorn – the nut found in oak trees.
- oak – a tree with strong, hard wood and flat leaves that change color and fall off in autumn. Oak trees produce small, round nuts called acorns.
- shell – the hard outer covering of a nut or seed.
Some seeds are in pods or leaf-type enclosures and need to be opened to remove the seed. If the children are not sure if they have a seed, that is OK. It can be a part of the experiment. If it grows in the bag over the next few weeks, then it is a seed.
- Little Acorn Grows Up by Edward Gibbs
- The Acorn and the Oak Tree by Lori Froeb
- Acorns Everywhere by Kevin Sherry
- From Seed to Maple Tree: Following the Life Cycle by Laura Purdie Salas
- The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
Content provided by:
Common Core State
These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.
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There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.