Planting Seeds

Children will learn about the life cycle of a seed.

Birds Nest

Lesson Objective

The children will learn how to plant a seed, observe
the seed life cycle, and discover the growth of their plants over time.


What You'll Need

  • 8 oz. clear cups – 1 per child
  • Sunny window
  • Spray bottles of water
  • Craft sticks with each child’s name
  • Chart paper and marker
  • Potting soil – enough to fill cups ½ full
  • 2 seeds per child (e.g., sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, lima beans, kidney beans)

What To Do

Note: Planting seeds and tracking their growth will take several weeks. It is helpful to use a push pin to poke a few holes in the bottom of the cups for drainage prior to filling them with soil; consider placing the cups on a plastic plate to eliminate damage from water drainage. It’s always a good idea to plant a few extra seeds in the event some don’t germinate.

  1. Activate background knowledge to find out what children know about seeds.
  2. Give each child 2 seeds.
  3. Ask children to describe what we might need to plant a seed. Explain what a seed needs to grow (see Did You Know?).
  4. Give each child a cup filled ½ full of potting soil.
  5. Demonstrate poking 2 holes in the soil with your finger, one against each side of the cup, about an inch deep; have the children do the same.
  6. Help the children drop the seeds in the holes and cover them up with soil, then have them place their craft stick in their cup.
  7. Demonstrate how to spray the soil with water from the spray bottle so the seed is wet but not soaking in a puddle of water. Have the children take turns spraying their cups and ask them why this is important.
  8. Ask where would be a good place in the room to place the seeds they have planted and help the children put their cups in a sunny window.
  9. Have children take turns spraying their seeds with water daily. Check the seeds daily and chart their growth.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Describe what we did to plant the seeds.
  • Talk about why the seeds need soil to grow.
  • Describe what you think will happen to the seeds.
  • What might happen if we give our seeds too much water? Too little water?
  • In deciding on a place to put the plants, discuss why some places are better than others (e.g., a well-lit place is better than a dark corner).

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Provide a variety of seeds in the discovery or science center for the children to examine, include a magnifying glass to extend their curiosity.
  • Have the children sort the seeds into categories such as size, shape, color, or markings.
  • Have the children draw pictures of the growing process of their seeds.
  • Encourage the children to break a seed apart and explore the inside.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Were the children able to plant their seeds?
  • Could children describe what a seed is?
  • Could children explain what happens as the seed is given water and light?


Did You Know?

Seeds come from plants and have the potential to become small baby plants. Plant seeds have the ability to grow leaves, roots, a stem, flowers, and every other part they need to live. Seeds need water, air, and sunlight to begin growing. Most seeds take about 2 weeks to germinate, or sprout. As soon as they have roots and leaves, young plants are able to begin making their own food with the help of light, water, and soil. Some seeds are on the outside of the plant like the strawberry. Some seeds grow inside pods where there is more than one seed. 

Most seeds have an outer shell that protects the seed called a seed coat. The seed coat acts as protection for the tiny plant inside. If a seed is cut open, a tiny plant will be inside the seed. This can be easily demonstrated by cutting open a lima bean and showing it to the children.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • seed – the small part of a plant with flowers that grows into a new plant.
  • soil – dirt.
  • plant – to put something into the ground to make it grow.
  • grow – to become larger.
  • sprout – to start to grow.
  • roots – the part of a plant that grows under the ground.

Lesson Tips

  • Try choosing larger seeds that grow fast, such as sunflower seeds, kidney beans, lima beans, or pumpkin seeds; they are much easier for small fingers to handle.
  • Pumpkin seeds will take the longest to sprout, about 10 days. Sunflower seeds and beans will sprout in 5–7 days.
  • If children are having difficulty poking holes along the sides of the cups with their fingers, have them use an old pencil. Using the eraser end, slide the pencil along the side of the cup and into the soil about 1 inch deep.
  • It is best to present this lesson before teaching the lesson, Rooting for Plants!.


  • The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
  • The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
  • From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons
  • Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
  • How a Seed Grows by Helene J. Jordan

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – 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 [1]. Visit the CCSS