As part of our Nature study, we have been participating in a lot of seed exploration! Exploring seeds with toddlers is incredibly fun. K is fascinated with seeds and plants, and there are so many great ways to show him what they are all about.
The first and best way to explore seeds is to get your toddler out into the garden! Kingston has been right alongside me as I planted all of the seeds for our garden this year. We have a square foot garden, so I simply put the seeds (especially the larger seeds like beans) on top of the surface in the proper configuration and let him poke them into the ground. I explain to him exactly what we are planting, and he gets the hands on experience of planting the seeds himself and connecting them to the names of the food that we eat. If you don't have a garden, plant some seeds indoors. Container gardens are a great way for little ones to learn about seeds and plants in a contained environment!
SEED SENSORY BIN
For further inside seed exploration, I put together this simple sensory bin. We save our seeds from year to year, and although most of them last far longer than their packaging date, some have stopped sprouting. We save the ones that have stopped sprouting specifically for sensory and exploratory purposes! I took all of our "duds" and popped them in this little dish for K to look at and touch. As he scooped and felt the different seeds, I explained to him what they were. Some of the smaller seeds are more difficult to identify when they are all together, but he loved the larger seeds like the beans, corn, peas, and pumpkin seeds the best!
He practiced scooping and pouring the seeds into the little yellow bowl I provided him with.
We also brought counting into our activity by counting some of the larger seeds into the bowl. It was a great fine motor skill for him to pick up all of those tiny seeds!
In the end, he got a great sensory workout throwing seeds everywhere, running his fingers through them, and eventually walking on top of them!
CONTACT PAPER SEED EXPLORATION
If the mess of seeds all over the floor in our previous activity gave you the shakes, rest assured that our clean up was both simple and incredibly useful! To get all of the seeds up off of the floor, I cut a piece of clear contact paper and had Kingston help me press it down on top of the seeds. We managed to pick the majority of them up with that (the rest I vaccummed with my handheld!). Then I covered it another piece of contact paper and let K explore the seeds that way.
He enjoyed pointing out the different seeds and being able to see them laid out clearly. This is a great activity for seed labeling. You could label the different seeds for your child, or if your child is old enough, they could locate and label the seeds themselves. Black permanent marker writes perfectly on contact paper!
This activity also offered another sensory experience as K felt the different bumps and textures that the seeds made.
PEPPER SEED OBSERVATION
An amazing way to explore seeds with your little ones is to explore them directly from where they come from. This could be as simple as cutting open and apple and peeking at the seeds together. It is so fun for toddlers to see where the seeds originate.
For our activity, I saved the innards of two peppers that I had cooked the night before. K is very into pointing out peppers at the grocery store and restaurants, so I thought this would be a great choice for him. Also, if you've ever cut a pepper, you know that they chalk full of seeds! I set the pepper out for K without any kind of direction and let him observe and explore.
As he felt the seeds and examined them, I explained to him that those were the peppers' seeds.
He liked feeling the texture of the seeds. We talked about how if we planted the seeds, we could grow peppers. He kept looking up at me and saying "a peppah? A PEPPAH!"
We had so much fun exploring seeds together, and as our plants grow in the garden we will talk more and more about seeds, plants, and growth. Toddlers are definitely not too little to learn about where our food comes from and to explore the exciting concept of growing things!
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