Saturday, March 23, 2013

Honouring Children's Questions

A few weeks ago Cadence ran off the school bus and excitedly held something in her hand. It was an orange seed that she had saved from a snack the school had served. "I wonder if it will grow," she yelled to me as she ran across the front yard.

Seeing this as an excellent provocation for inquiry, we planted the seed in a clear cup, using cotton balls for soil. The cotton balls held moisture and the clear cup allowed us to observe the changes in the seed.

We also planted peas and bean seeds alongside the orange seed. I thought it would be interesting to compare the seeds to each other and see the differences in how they sprouted. We placed the cups in a sunny window and kept track of how many days it took for them to sprout by recording the number on a post it note.

This was an incredibly engaging activity. Each morning the kids would rush to the window to see what changes had occurred in the seeds. It was so interesting to see the root systems develop and stems grow longer until they bent upwards and reached out the cup. 

When it was time to transplant the seedlings to pots with real soil, we spent a few minutes examining them on the light table and discussing the names of each part of the plant. The root systems were so complex and it was really neat to observe them when illuminated by the light table.

We carefully transplanted the seedlings to little pots that can be planted directly in our garden as soon as it's warm enough. These are now sitting next to a sunny window.

The orange seed never grew. It turned moldy after a few days and then we threw it out. This lead to some really interesting conversations about why the kids thought it didn't grow (perhaps because oranges grow in warmer climates than ours?) and what the needs of plants and living things are. By honouring Cadence's question about whether the orange seed would grow, we spent three weeks exploring and examining how seeds grow and what living things need in order to thrive.


  1. Love! I'm an ECE is FDK. Our students spent a week pulling seeds out of their lunches (even seeds off bread). I had them in a container and was going to plant them with the kids. The teacher I work with was annoyed and I never did get the chance. I usually have to the this kind of learning/teaching during Nutrition Breaks. I wish there was more teachers like you who "get it." You have the appropriate training for Early Learning.

  2. Thank you for your lovely comment Melissa! I think FDK is the best thing to happen to kindergarten in Ontario and tell everyone all the time I am proud to be an FDK teacher! Planting seeds from the children's lunches sounds like an amazing way to engage them in a meaningful experience that they imagined! The possibilities for extending that are limited only by our imaginations!


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