Gardening: Discoveries with Seeds STEAM {Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math} Unit Study

A Gardening: Discoveries with Seeds STEAM Family-Style Unit Study for Homeschooling Families

Dig into these hands-on and real-life Gardening: Discoveries with Seeds STEAM activities and lessons about soil pH, seed germination, Mendel genetics & Punnett Squares to learn more about Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math!

The Gardening: Discoveries with Seeds STEAM lessons and activities have 3 main levels of difficulty to help you meet your child at the level they are currently working, instead of some arbitrary grade level.

The Early Learners lessons are generally for learners working at a Preschool, Kindergarten, or 1st & 2nd grade level.

The Upper Elementary lessons are generally for learners working at 3rd to 5th grade levels.

The Middle to High School lessons are generally for learners working at a 6th to 12 grade levels.

Feel free to mix and match with the lessons and activities for the three different levels to find activities that best suit your children and their individual learning styles.

Don’t forget to check out the Gardening: Discoveries with Seeds Unit Study History and Language Arts sections, too!

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gardening unit study: history

Gardening: Discoveries with Seeds STEAM

Seeds STEAM: Science for Early Learners

Read the book, One Bean by Anne Rothwell. Be sure to check out the Picture Books section in the Language Arts Gardening: Discoveries with Seeds for more great books about seeds.

What Seeds Need to Sprout Experiment for Early Learners

Gather some bean seeds (or just use dried beans from the grocery store). Place a few beans along with a moistened paper towel in a zipper-top plastic sandwich baggie. Then repeat for the second baggie with beans and a damp paper towel. Zip both closed. Place one in a dark place, like inside a box in a cabinet, and tape the other to a sunny window. Each day, check both to make sure the paper towel hasn’t dried out (if it has, dampen it again). In a few days, the beans in the sunny location will begin to sprout. Finally, talk to your kiddos about the things that plant seeds need to sprout and be healthy (light and water).

Get your FREE copy of the Gardening Discoveries with Seeds Science Experiment for Early Learners Worksheets from the Whole Child Homeschool Resource Store.

Seeds STEAM: Science for Elementary Age Learners

Read the book, From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons. Be sure to check out the Picture Books section in the Language Arts Gardening: Discoveries with Seeds for more great books about seeds.

Complete a Seeds Science Experiment. Choose one of the following experiments to learn what seeds need in order to sprout and grow into healthy plants.

Do Seeds Really Need Air? Experiment A


First, start by printing out the Seed Experiment A for Elementary Learners Lab Printables from the Free Resource Library. Follow the directions for the experiment and learn what seeds need to be healthy sprouts in this easy science experiment. Use the worksheets to record your hypothesis, procedure, observations, and conclusion.

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    For this experiment, you’ll need 4 to 6 dried beans, 2 zipper top baggies, 2 paper towels, a straw, and a small amount of water. First, place 2 or 3 beans along with a moistened paper towel in each zipper top plastic sandwich baggie. Zip the first bag closed (this is your control bag). Zip the second bag mostly closed and insert the straw into the opening. Suck all of the air out of the bag with the straw while closing the bag. Next, tape the bags to a sunny window. Each day, check both to make sure the paper towel hasn’t dried out (if it has, dampen it again). Be sure to always suck the air out of the second bag. Record what you see each day by drawing a picture on the worksheet. In a few days, the control beans will begin to sprout.


    Do Seeds Need Warm Sunlight? Experiment B

    First, start by printing out the Seed Experiment B for Elementary Learners Lab Printables from the Free Resource Library. Follow the directions for the experiment and learn whether seeds really need warm sunlight in order to be healthy sprouts in this easy science experiment. Use the worksheets to record your hypothesis, procedure, observations, and conclusion.

    For this experiment, you’ll need 4 to 6 dried beans, 2 zipper top baggies, 2 paper towels, and a small amount of water. Place 2 or 3 beans along with a moistened paper towel in each zipper top plastic sandwich baggie. Zip the bags closed. Next, tape 1 bag to a sunny window (this is your control). Then, place the other bag in the fridge (where it’s cool and dark). Each day, check both to make sure the paper towel hasn’t dried out (if it has, dampen it again). Be sure to always put the second bag back into the refrigerator. Record what you see each day by drawing a picture on the worksheet. In a few days, the control beans will begin to sprout.


    Seeds STEAM: Science for Upper Elementary and Middle School Learners

    “What type of soil do seeds need to germinate and grow?” Experiment

    Farmers say that an excessive amount of salt in rainwater keeps their crops from growing well. Some old wives’ tales say that sugar will make your plants grow faster. Find out how sugar and salt affect seed germination and growth.

    First, start by printing out the Seed Experiment for Upper Elementary & Middle School Learners Lab Printables from the Free Resource Library. Follow the directions for the experiment and learn what type of soil seeds need in order to germinate and grow in this easy science experiment. Use the worksheets to record your hypothesis, procedure, observations, and conclusion.

    Not a member of the Whole Child Homeschool Tribe yet? Scroll up to the dark pink box above to sign up and get immediate access to the Free Resource Library.

    For this experiment, you’ll need potting soil, some soil from your yard or from under a pine tree, sugar, salt, at least 12 bean seeds (dried beans from the grocery store work fine), and 4 containers for growing your plants. You can use the small plastic “flower pots” from the dollar store, or leftover yogurt containers, plastic cups, or really just whatever you have on hand.

    First, place potting soil in 3 of your containers. Add 1/4 cup of sugar to one and mix it in, then add 1/4 cup of salt to another container of soil, mixing the salt or sugar with the soil. In the 4th container, place soil from your yard. (The container with only plain potting soil is the control.) Plant at least 3 beans in all 4 containers of soil. Lightly water the beans. Next, place the containers in a sunny, warm location. Each day, check to see if they need water. Record what you see each day on the worksheet. In a few days, the control beans will begin to sprout.

    For more information on salt and soil

    If you’d like to read an explanation of how soil salinity affects seed germination and growth, check out this article from the University of Georgia Extension or this easier explanation from Davey.


    Seeds STEAM: Science for High School Learners

    Plants can absorb the soil’s nutrients best when the soil is neither too acidic nor too alkaline. If you want your plants to grow well, you need to find out if your soil’s pH is “just right”. If it is not in the neutral, “just right” range, you can add things like used coffee grounds or dried leaves to the soil to adjust the pH. According to The Spruce website:

    Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil. Soil pH is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. The ideal range for most plants is between 6–7.

    The Spruce website

    Have your students read this handout from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry to learn more about soil pH.

    Old-time farmers would taste and smell the soil in their fields to determine if the soil needed amendments in order to produce a good crop. They said that if the soil tasted sweet, then it needed wood ash or lime because it was alkaline. If it tasted and smelled sour, it needed pine needles or cottonseed meal to lower the pH because it was acidic.

    You don’t have to eat dirt in order to determine if your soil is acidic, neutral, or alkaline though! Just follow these directions. This experiment will tell you if your soil is too alkaline, too acidic, or neutral.

    What is your Soil pH? Experiment A

    First, start by printing out the Seeds Experiment A for Middle & High School Learners Lab Printables from the Free Resource Library. Follow the directions for the experiment and learn what pH your soil is in this easy science experiment. Use the worksheets to record your hypothesis, procedure, observations, and conclusion.

    For this experiment, you’ll need: a small amount of soil from your yard, vinegar, baking soda, 2 small clean bowls or containers, distilled water, and a soil test kit (optional, to “check” your results).

    Add 1 teaspoon of soil to each bowl or container. Label one container Alkaline and one Acidic. To the container labeled Alkaline, add 1/2 cup of vinegar. To the container labeled Acidic, add 1 teaspoon of distilled water to make it “muddy”, then add 1/2 cup baking soda.

    If the bowl marked Acidic fizzes, then your soil is acidic. If the bowl marked Alkaline fizzes, then your soil is alkaline. But if nothing happens in either bowl, then your soil is neutral.

    To check your experiment’s results, use a store-bought soil testing kit like this one, or get one from your local gardening center and follow its directions.


    Do plants grow best in acidic or alkaline soils? Experiment B

    It’s one thing to read that most plants like soil that is neutral, but your students will remember best if they see and experience it firsthand with this experiment.

    First, you’ll want to print out the Seed Experiment B for High School Learners Lab Printables from the Free Resource Library. Follow the directions for the experiment to see which pH (high, low, or neutral) is the best for your seeds to germinate and grow in this easy science experiment. Use the worksheets to record your hypothesis, procedure, observations, and conclusion.

    Not a member of the Whole Child Homeschool Tribe yet? Scroll up to the dark pink box above to sign up and get immediate access to the Free Resource Library.

    For this experiment, you’ll need potting soil, some soil from your yard, either milk of magnesia or ammonia, either lemon juice or white vinegar, at least 12 bean seeds (dried beans from the grocery store work fine), and 3 containers for growing your plants. You can use the small plastic “flower pots” from the dollar store, or leftover yogurt containers, plastic cups, or really just whatever you have on hand.

    First, place the soil in the 3 containers. Add 1/4 cup of either milk of magnesia or ammonia to one of the containers and mix it into the soil. Label this container ALKALINE. Next, add 1/4 cup of either lemon juice or vinegar to another container of soil, mixing the liquid into the soil. Label this container ACIDIC.

    Then, leave the 3rd container with just plain soil from your yard. Label this container CONTROL. Plant at least 4 beans in each of the 3 containers of soil. Now you can lightly water the beans.

    Finally, place the containers in a sunny, warm location. Each day, check to see if they need water. Record what you see each day on the worksheet. In a few days, the control beans will begin to sprout.


    Seeds STEAM: Technology

    All Learners

    NASA scientists and astronauts on the International Space Station have been studying how plants grow in space for the past 20 years. One theory they’ve discovered is that plants use the earth’s magnetic fields to know which way is “up” so that they will grow in the right direction. Did you know that scientists have also discovered that magnets make plants grow faster!?

    You can read about the seeds grown on the ISS in this archived article from NASA.

    Watch this video of an experiment that shows how magnets affect plant growth.

    Your kids may want to do this experiment from Feels Like Home that shows how gravity affects seeds. Includes great pictures that show how seeds will grow their roots downward and leaves upward no matter which direction you place the hilum of the seed.

    If your kids are interested, have them conduct the same experiment as the one in the video to see if they get the same results.


    Seeds STEAM: Engineering

    Early Learners & Lower Elementary

    One of the things my kids are planning to do this spring and summer is to grow a climbing bean teepee garden. We’re going to build a simple teepee shape with gardening poles and plant runner beans around it so the beans will grow up the poles and create a summer hideaway that the butterflies will love.

    You can let your kids experiment with the best way to design their teepee or check out these from How We Learn, which has some amazing ideas on building outdoor forts with sticks. We bought these pink & purple runner bean seeds from Baker Creek Seeds, but any climbing plant that needs support to “grow upwards” will work.


    Upper Elementary & Middle School & High School

    (scroll down to see more advanced High School only lessons)

    Read the book, Gregor Mendal: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe

    Another type of engineering besides designing and building is seed engineering. In this section, your students will learn the difference between plant hybrids and engineered seeds. One of the earliest recorded and most famous scientists that studied seed genetics and plant hybrids is Gregor Mendel.

    Gregor Mendel was an Augustinian monk during the mid-1800s (in what was then the country of Austria). He was one of the first scientists to explore the idea that in biology, offspring receive traits from their parents equally. These characteristics are either recessive or dominant. His work was so ahead of his time, that it was largely ignored for 50 years before it received the credit and attention it deserved.

    Read this graphic story from SithDragon42 on DeviantArt to learn more about Mendel’s life and work. (Be sure to click through to the next pages–it’s 4 pages long.)

    Another botanist, Reginald Punnett, created a simple way to understand the inheritance of dominant and recessive characteristics with the Punnett Square. Watch this video from TED-Ed to learn about recessive and dominant traits. Download the Gardening: Discoveries with Seeds Punnett Square Handout from the Free Resource Library.

    To learn more about Punnett Square and how hybrids are created (they carry characteristics from both parents) check out the following resources:

    Elemental Science Punnett Square Explained, plus a practice worksheet.

    Create your own Punnett Square using Legos, like this one from LGolton.

    Use plastic Easter eggs to create a hands-on lesson about genetics and the Punnett Square with this idea from Middle School Science.


    High School Learners

    Continue learning about Mendelian genetics and Punnett Squares with these activities and resources:

    Read the book, Gregor Mendel: Planting the Seeds of Genetics by Simon Mawer.

    Watch this video, A Beginner’s Guide to Punnett Squares, from Bozeman Science.

    Learn the difference between open-pollination seeds (sometimes called heirloom), hybrids, and genetically engineered seeds with this resource from Small Footprint Family. If your teen (or you 😀) want to learn more about the GE seeds debate, this article from Grist has some food for thought, and this article from Organic Authority takes the opposite stance.

    Read the book, The Story of Seeds by Nacy F. Castaldo to learn more about Mendel and his research, as well as how there is significantly less seed diversity around the world, or as Castaldo says, “There’s more of less to eat around the world.” The book would make an excellent spine for a research paper about seeds, hybrids, GMOs, and food supplies for your high schooler.


    Seeds STEAM: Art

    Fine Arts

    Art Appreciation

    The great Impressionist artist Monet may have complained that “all my money goes to my garden” but he also stated that “I am in raptures” when talking about his garden. Many of his masterpieces are paintings of scenes from his garden. Learn more about Monet’s Giverny garden here.

    Japanese Footbridge-Claude Monet
    Claude Monet, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

    The Japanese bridge in his garden is in at least 3 of his paintings. You can see them and more of his work at this Claude Monet site.

    Read Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork or watch the short film produced in 1992 that is based upon the book. Or watch this reading of Katy and the Waterlily Pond by James Mayhew


    Art Application

    Let your students make natural paints from plants with these instructions from Fun Kids Live.

    Create a bean and seed mosaic. Mosaic creations aren’t just for preschoolers anymore! Get instructions and inspiration from First Palette.


    Practical Arts

    You probably bought a bag of beans to use as seeds for the experiments above, now what to do with the rest of the bag?

    Beans often get a bad rap as being boring, bland, and only something you eat when you are broke. But beans are very healthy and don’t have to be blah. Learn how to cook exciting dishes with beans using these recipes that I’ve been cooking from for years. They are definitely tried and true recipes!


    Seeds STEAM: Math

    Early Learners

    gardening sprout line graph math

    Measure the length or height of your sprout each day to see how much it grew. Then create a line graph showing it’s growth.

    Visit a flower garden and record the number of butterflies or insects that you encounter.


    More Gardening: Discoveries with Seeds Ideas

    Grab this free lesson from The Knitted Apple on Tpt for more practice with recessive and dominant traits.

    Print out these Parts of a Seed Notebooking Pages or the Parts of a Plant Worksheet from Homeschool Helper Online.

    Supplement your elementary learners’ plant knowledge with this Plants Lapbook from Homeschool Helper Online.

    Be sure to follow my Pinterest board Unit Studies for Homeschoolers for more great hands-on activities and ideas for your Gardening: Discoveries with Seeds Family-style Unit Study!

    Don’t forget to pin this post so you can refer back to it during your Gardening: Discoveries with Seeds STEAM Unit Study.

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