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Going on a seed safari

Lesson plan

English - KS1 & 2 Science (Plants), English, Art & Design, Design & Technology
Scottish -  Early, First and Second Levels Science (Planet Earth), Literacy, Expressive Arts

  • Estimated time: 90 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: Early Autumn, Late Autumn, Late Summer
  • Key stage(s): KS1, KS2
  • Subject(s): English, Science, Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • Understand that plants grow from seeds
  • Discover that seeds can be dried, stored and planted another year 
  • Create and design a seed packet
  • Write clear sowing instructions
  • Understand there are living and non-living things in the world around them

Key vocabulary

Seed, air, water, warmth, light, soil, dry, trees, vegetables, germinating, lifecycle

Introduction

If possible, go on a seed safari around your outdoor space. If you have access to flowers growing or areas of wild flowers, leave them to die off and see if there are seeds you could collect. This is best done when the flowers are really dry. Look out for tree seeds, and vegetables that have 'gone to seed'. Collect seeds in paper bags and label them.  Alternatively use sticky strips (a strip of double sided tape on card) and collect as many different types of seed as possible.

Activities

What are seeds?

  1. Sort a set of objects containing seeds and non living material (stones, twigs, plastic items) to conclude that although they don't look living - seeds have the possibility of growing, if given the required conditions.
  2. Examine a range of dry seeds to show variety in shape, colour, size and style (taken from flowers, vegetables, etc).  Use common food stuffs as a readily available resource, such as rice, beans, fennel seeds, peas and popcorn.  You might need magnifiers to look at really tiny seeds, like poppy, up close.


Soak broad bean seeds in water for a few hours and let your learners peel off the seed coat and discover what's hiding inside. 

In order to show germination in action, sow some quick growing seeds in a tray, on damp kitchen paper, a few days before you need them. Mung beans are large enough to clearly see which appear first - shoots or roots.  For younger learners you might like to try the Handy Gardener activity to observe which seeds germinate first, or investigate the Germination Race
Compare dried seed and germinating seed, to visualise clearly what happens with the correct growing conditions.  

Discuss what elements the seeds needed to grow (water, warmth, light). With this in mind can your learners work out the conditions needed to successfully store seeds? 

Have example seed packets to look at. Ask learners to note similarities in layout and content, identify and list specific language used. Demonstrate planting a seed, clearly explaining each step of the process - using sequential language and planting vocabulary.

Learners then make an origami seed packet for a specific seed collected. Using the information they have identified on the commercial seed packets, create a design of their own, including instructions for how to plant a seed.

Plenary

  • Ask a volunteer to read out their instructions for another to follow and actually do some seed sowing. Were there any vital steps missing?
  • Identify the instructional vocabulary used

Equipment Needed

  • Examples of dried seeds
  • Germinating seeds
  • Pictures of vegetables, trees and flowers
  • Paper bags for collecting 
  • Sticky strips and card
  • Examples of seed packets
  • Paper, scissors, pens
  • Compost and a plant pot

Differentiation

How are the growing requirements for a seed and a plant different?
Besides growing from seed, how else can we grow plants?
Why is it important to save seeds?
Can you name different methods of seed dispersal?

Next steps

Fill 5 clear drinking cups (make drainage holes in the bottom) with compost and water until damp. Push a broad bean seed halfway down the side of a cup and label in order. Do this to each cup in turn, every 3 days and watch the steps of germination unfold!

Assessment questions

  • What conditions are needed to store seeds?
  • Do dry seeds grow?
  • Name three seeds you can collect and store

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