Planting for the Environment

At the Academy of Natural Sciences, we believe that individual actions can truly make a difference. Each month of 2020, we’re guiding our community in a conversation about how everyday choices can affect the health of our environment. This April, as the days begin to warm, we’re focusing on how planting something — from pollinator flowers and veggies to trees — can be an act of caring for our environment that helps us get closer to nature.

In Plant the Tiny Seed, Christie Matheson helps the youngest naturalists understand how tiny seeds bloom into stunning flowers. Through delicate collage and watercolor graphics and poetic, simple text, she demonstrates the steps involved in planting a few seeds, taking care of them and watching them grow.

Readers are encouraged to “push” the seeds into the pages, wiggle their fingers to water the seeds, tap the clouds to bring rain and clap to wake up the sun. They then can follow the growth of a zinnia and better understand the role it serves in a garden of bees, butterflies and other animals.

Find a digital copy of the book at your local library or on YouTube. Then, do the following activity (or help your kids help plant a garden of their own) to learn more about the process at home. While you work, explain the main things that plants need to grow, including sun, water, soil and space.

Don’t have the book at home? No problem! Follow the prompts below and learn about planting on your own!

Gather the following materials:

  • 8-9 oz glass container or plastic cup
  • Organic Grass Seed (or small packet of cat grass, chia seeds or micro greens) Caution: Some non-organic grass seeds contain fertilizers that can be hazardous to humans
  • Planting Soil
  • Knee-high Nylon Stockings
  • Permanent markers
  • Water
  • Eye and mouth stickers (optional) just for fun, or you can draw right on your cup!

Start with an empty plastic cup. Take one knee-high stocking and place it in the cup. Then fold the top of the stocking over the opening of the cup so the stocking is open inside the cup.

Pour 1 tablespoon of grass seed into the bottom of the knee-high stocking. Next, pour 1 cup of dirt on top of the seed. Repeat until you get to the top. Recite this fun chant while pouring … Take a scoop, pour it in, press it down and start again. When you get to the top, STOP!

Have an adult carefully remove the knee-high stocking from the cup and gently move the dirt and seed to the bottom of the stocking. Be careful to keep the seed on the bottom and the soil on the top. Tie a knot on the open end. Carefully flip the filled knee-high stocking upside down and place it back into the cup. Use stickers or permanent markers to make a face on the cup.

Generously water the stocking, ensuring the water soaks into the seed and soil. Place in a well-lit window and water daily. Be careful not to overwater it. Water should never pool in the cup.

Just for fun! After the grass “hair” grows, you can cut it, braid it or put it in a ponytail — it doesn’t matter because it will keep growing!

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