Garden Activity Ideas from "Nutrition in the Garden"
#1 Root View Box
Lay a half gallon milk container on its side or stand straight up and cut off the top. Cut a window out of one of the sides leaving 1/2 inch of carton around the edges. Place a piece of glass or plastic (you can use an overhead transparency sheet) in the box against the window. Secure the plastic with a waterproof seal (waterproof glue or strong tape). Add soil and plant your seeds close to the window. Then water your seeds in and see what happens. Keep your soil moist but be careful not to over-water since you do not have drainage holes. Tilting the box forward will help the roots to grow against the clear side and allow them to be more visible.
#2 Seed Viewer
Put a piece of rolled construction paper in a clear plastic cup so that the paper touches all sides of the cup. Stuff crumpled paper towels into the center so that the paper is firm against the sides of the plastic cup. Place 3 to 4 seeds (dried bean or corn seeds from the grocery store work well) in between the plastic cup and the construction paper. Moisten the paper towels. Your seeds should sprout in 4 to 5 days.

An alternative to this activity is to place seeds in closed plastic sandwich bags with wet paper towels. This will also allow you to watch germination.

#3 Seed Experiments
The process by which seeds sprout into plants is called germination. Conduct experiments to test the effects of light and dark on seed germination and plant growth. Plant seeds in small pots and place half in a sunny location and the other half in a dark location (in a cabinet or closet). Keep both moist and at the same temperature. After a few days, count and compare the number of seeds that sprouted in each location.
#4 Water Movement
Water enters into a plant through its roots and then moves up its stems, into the leaves and then evaporates through small holes (stomates) into the atmosphere. Water evaporating out of plants is called transpiration. To see transpiration, put a small plastic sandwich bag over a leaf or a few leaves on a plant outside. Return later in the day to check on your leaf. You should see moisture forming due to transpiration. Another way to watch movement of water in plants is to put celery or white carnations in containers with food coloring-dyed water. They will soak up this water and then you can see how quickly water moves up the stems and where it goes.
#5 Carrot Tops
Next time you cut up carrots to eat, save the tops and remove their leaves. Place the tops in a dish of water and watch the leaves resprout.
#6 Space Invaders
Examine the importance of correct spacing of seeds. Plant five 4" pots of radish seeds (or some other type of fast growing seeds). In the first pot plant only one seed, in the second plant 5, in the third plant 10, in the fourth plant 15 and in the fifth plant 20. Grow the seeds without thinning until you have mature radishes and the compare the sizes of the radishes depending on their pots. Measure the width of each radish and chart your results.
#7 Make New Plants From Old
Cut off tips of house plants (with permission). These are called "cuttings." If you place these cuttings water or in soil they may grow roots and start new plants. To root the cuttings in water, fill clear plastic cups with water and cover with Saran Wrap(tm) or clear wrap. Secure the wrap with a rubber band. Stick the cutting into the cup through the wrap. Make sure there are no leaves in the water. To root cuttings in soil, plant your new plant pieces in small soil filled pots then create humidity by covering the pot with a plastic bag secured with a rubber band. The bag will keep moisture in and help with new root growth. Examples of easy to root plants include pothos, English Ivy, philodendron, kalanchoe, begonias or coleus.
# 8 Cooking Fun
Make a cookbook of all of your favorite recipes and search the internet for new ones. Try to cook and taste unique fruits and vegetables like: kiwi fruit, maroon carrots, mango, yellow watermelon, blackberries, papaya, rutabaga, kohlrabi and sprouts.
Try fruits and vegetables prepared in different ways. For example, carrots come in a variety of packages. You can buy them whole, prepackaged into strips, prepackaged into baby strips, prepackaged into horizontal chips, canned and frozen. Have a taste test to compare the different types and include fresh samples from your garden or a farmers' market. Notice flavor and texture differences.
Nutrition in the Garden* Gardening Ideas* Ideas for Kids* Ideas for Parents* Ideas for Teachers