5. From small to big: Seeds and germination

5. From small to big: Seeds and germination

Suggested timing: February

Germination is the process of a plant developing leaves and roots from a seed. It is a process of slow change and transformation which we can observe as a series of stages.

Short film - From small to big: Seeds and germination


By the end of this unit, you will enable children to:

  1. Learn about different seed types
  2. Understand the relationship between seeds and environment
  3. Observe the process of germination
  4. Plan for growth cycles
  5. Practice germinating seeds and potatoes
  6. Understand germination of plants outdoor

1. Seeds and tubers

Most plants germinate and grow from seeds. However, many plants sprout from the specially adapted storage parts of their stem - these typically develop below the ground and are called tubers. The potato is an example of a plant tuber. Potatoes are largely made of starch, stored from the growing plant. The potato lies dormant over winter, until new growth sprouts from the ‘eyes' the following year which then develops into new plants.

Activity 1A: Observing and discussing seeds

In preparation for the lesson, children can bring a selection of seeds from home. They can discuss where and how they found the seeds. In class, using a set of boxes/bags containing several types of seeds (including seed potatoes), the children can observe, measure, weigh and draw the different seeds according to their relative sizes – from small to big, wide to narrow, light to heavy.

Useful resources

2. Seed distribution

Depending on their shape, weight and size: a seed can travel far away or get buried deep in the soil; some seeds can be eaten by animals or get carried on their skin or fur; others can float on water or fly in the wind. Outside, children can practice making seeds fly - how far do different seeds travel?

Activity 2A: Seed numbers

Children can discuss:

  • The different destinies of seeds
  • The need for plants to produce lots of seeds for survival
  • Why farmers must ensure that seeds do not get lost
Activity 2B: Paper mache seeds

Making seeds with paper mache is a fun way to learn about structure, and size and to celebrate seeds!

Activity 2C: Seed stories

Children may be encouraged to share their experiences with seeds - seeds feature in a range of stories (for example Jack and the Beanstalk, or Mabel’s Garden) and religious parables.

Useful resources

3. What do seeds need to grow?

A seed can travel a long way before it settles. Children can compare this to a traveler equipped for a journey or extended stay – with a stockpile of water, and initial food reserves. As the seed starts growing, gradually water and sugars will be used up, which is why we need to make sure seeds are watered and put into nutritious soil to grow.

Activity 3A: Germination yoga

This activity dramatises seed germination: from the seed being curled up tight, deep in the ground; reaching out for the backpack, cracking its skin, gradually swelling up and shooting the first root, growing a longer stem and the first leaf, to finally develop the full set of leaves opening to the light as a grown plant.

Using a storyline, the teacher with the help of germination yoga helps demonstrate how, as the seed is exposed to the weather and temperature, it gradually develops tissues that stretch and change in shape and size. Everybody’s muscles get stretched too!

Useful resources

4. Observing germination

Seeds can start germination in a small pot. Why do we sometimes not plant seeds directly outside? (See Useful Resources to help find the answer to this question).

Activity 4A: Germination before your eyes
  • In class, children can choose a seed to plant into a small compostable pot with soil and water for germination
  • Alternatively, seeds can germinate in a glass jar to show the stages of growth
  • If planting seed potatoes, these should be ‘chitted’ first (growing small shoots) before being planted
Useful resources

5. Observing growth

Growing seeds need care of on a regular basis – this is ideal for also allowing close observation of the growth. Children can develop a simple chart to record the process:

Process chart
Date Colour Shape Length Notes


Activity 5A: Observing and comparing growth

Children can compare and discuss the results.

  • Why are some plants taller than others?
  • What is the advantage of growing tall? The disadvantage?
  • What colours are the leaves at the various stages?
Activity 5B: Plant timelines

Children can design their own plant timelines. This might take the form of a big poster on the classroom wall and feature a record of notes and pictures from the various stages of their plant's growth. The children can update the timeline after every observation in the garden.

Useful resources

You have reached the end of this unit. To assess your knowledge before starting the next unit, please complete the short quiz found at the link below.

Please note: you will have to enter your email address at the start of each unit quiz if you wish to be sent a Garden Schools Certificate of Completion once you have worked through all 8 units and quizzes.

Complete the Seeds and Germination short quiz