Watching Peas Sprout

by Deb on June 8, 2010

Welcome to the June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor fun

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their stories and tips for playing outside with kids. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


We spend hours outdoors.  Our house is actually a converted shed, but it makes up for it by having an enormous undercover play area at the back.  But one thing I’m not good at is gardening, so to make it interesting I’ve turned it into a really cool science experiment.  My little ones were just fascinated to see it happening, but there are extensions you can do with older kids.

Basically what we are doing is sprouting peas, but putting them between the side of a jar and a layer of paper means you can see them.  Have a look at this video to see how the toddler and pre-schooler worked together to get them ready:

We used ordinary kitchen towels, if you can get the slightly tougher hand towels they are a bit easier because they don’t squash as much.  After that, water them and leave them in a warm sunny area.  Because of the neck on the jar and getting rained on, these actually turned into miniature terrariums and have worked brilliantly.

Roots sprout first

The roots sprouted first.  Do you think this is normal for plants?  Why do you think the roots sprout out first?  Which way is the root growing?

After the root the stem starts sprouting

Then the stem starts sprouting.  It’s already green here, but that’s because it is getting light through the glass.  Usually it wouldn’t be green until it reaches the surface.  Where is it sprouting from?

These are already starting to form their first leaves.  Which way is the stem growing?

Ready to plant

And here they are ready to plant.  They have a lovely trellis waiting for them where they will provide some shade for our brand new bird aviary.  I love eating peas straight from the pod!  There are so many things to engage kids here, even if they have black thumbs like mine:

  • The original planting.
  • Being able to see them every day and check how they’re going.
  • The final planting in the ground and getting nice and dirty.
  • Being able to pick and eat them from the plant.
  • Having a purpose in shading the birds.

We love just mucking about outside, but sometimes having a purpose is good too.  And being able to contribute to our future play space and activities is icing on the cake.

Extension for older kids:

Use beans, especially ones like broad beans where you can see the spot they should sprout from.  Plant three beans facing three different ways, so up, down and sideways.  Sprout them and see what happens to the root and stem.

But most of all, have fun outside!


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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Deb Chitwood June 8, 2010 at 8:45 am

Great post! I love the way you’re making science so much fun. And thanks for the cute video and wonderful photos showing exactly what you did.
.-= Deb Chitwood´s last blog ..Activity of the Week – Pincer Grip Activities =-.


Hear Mum Roar June 8, 2010 at 11:08 am

I’m not a big gardener either, but I agree, it’s so much more fun when the kids get involved
.-= Hear Mum Roar´s last blog ..Home made air freshener =-.


Marita June 8, 2010 at 9:53 pm

My daughters Prep/One class is growing broadbeans in jars on their windowsills at the moment it is very cool to see.

Younger daughters Pre-Prep class went out into the garden poked a hole in the ground with their thumb and popped in the broadbean seeds. We were out there today looking at the sprouting beans. Also very cool but not as exciting as seeing what happens under the surface.


Deb June 8, 2010 at 10:01 pm

I agree – I’ve planted many seeds and not grown them successfully. Being able to watch what is happening makes all the difference!


Dionna @ Code Name: Mama June 8, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Genius. We tried to watch a seed form roots this spring, but I didn’t even think about putting it between the glass and a paper towel! Of course it got lost in the dirt, so that experiment failed. We will redo it later using your suggestions – thank you!!
.-= Dionna @ Code Name: Mama´s last blog ..How To Create a Pirate Treasure Hunt & Other Easy Outdoor Pirate Activities (June Carnival of Natural Parenting) =-.


Sybil June 9, 2010 at 5:37 am

Wow, another amazing new blog I got to find through the carnival! Thank you for sharing. I really want to try this with my girls. I love that I can utilize the smarts and creativity of people around me simply by reading their blogs.

I will add you to my feed reader, can’t wait to read more of your blog!
.-= Sybil´s last blog ..June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor Fun =-.


Lauren @ Hobo Mama June 9, 2010 at 10:08 am

This is so perfect! I’ve heard of growing peas in general, but being able to see the roots and stems take shape is genius. I know my 3-year-old would get a kick out of this. Must go find a jar!
.-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last blog ..June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor fun =-.


Paige @ Baby Dust Diaries June 9, 2010 at 10:12 am

I am growing my first vegetable garden this year and it has been so fun to see nature at work. I can’t wait to eat my first self-grown veggie! Aellyn really enjoyed playing in the dirt. I’m looking forward to trying this out with her. I’d never seen this method to sprout the seed where you can see it. I can see this being valuable clear through the teen years if kids are learninga bout botany. Thanks!
.-= Paige @ Baby Dust Diaries´s last blog ..Moon Gazing with your Toddler: Science, Nature, and a touch of Folklore =-.


Andrea!!! June 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm

This is great! We’ve sprouted avocado seed before, and that’s also lots of fun (you stick some toothpicks into the sides and suspend it in a jar of water). I love your blog – it’s such a wonderful resource!


Julie from Simple Life June 9, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I remember this from years ago in science. I really enjoyed it. A few years ago I was a nanny/homeschool teacher and I did this with the kids. Once they got big enough we put dirt in place of the paper towels and grew them in the windows. We actually got a few peas :).

Paul loves watching things grow around here. I think he would enjoy this, will have to go find some beans :).
.-= Julie from Simple Life´s last blog ..Following Paul =-.


Luschka @ Diary of a First Child June 10, 2010 at 8:06 am

That looks like a fab experiment! I’m a little nervous, having been responsible for the death of many a plant/potplant/herb/bonsai, but it seems simple enough! We might try that next summer!
.-= Luschka @ Diary of a First Child´s last blog ..365-147 to 365-152 A Week in Pictures =-.


M-J sims August 4, 2010 at 12:46 am

i would like to know how do i cross breed a pea for a homeschooling experiment please


Deb August 4, 2010 at 7:57 am

Hi M-J,

I’m not a gardener so I haven’t done it, but I know you can hand pollinate peas using something like a cotton bud to collect pollen from one and wipe it onto the stigma of the other. It would be a very long term experiment – you have to grow two sets of peas or somehow get some that are ready to flower. You would need two varieties with a different characteristic to look at like height or flower colour. Grow them separated so the same variety cannot pollinate itself and when they are mature take lots of measurements or photos of whatever characteristic you are looking at. When they are both flowering wipe the pollen off one set of flowers and transfer to the other set and vice versa. Let them go and collect the peas, dry them and plant them, see how they grow. Hopefully you will see some difference in the second generation – the height could be midway, or you could get some with one colour flower and some with the other. Make sure you’re using things like the same type of pot and potting mix and watering them the same.

That’s a very basic experimental design, you will need to check out some gardening sites to see the best type of peas to use and how to actually pollinate them by hand and prepare the second generation of seeds. As I said, I know it can be done, but have never done anything like it. It’s sure to be on the internet somewhere!


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