Growing plants from seeds is a project that will be met with enthusiasm by children of all ages. According to Doug Hewitt, author of “The Practical Guide to Weekend Parenting,” growing things is a perfect time to talk to your children about the cycle of life and to teach them what living things need to grow and flourish, such as water, warmth and sunlight. This is also an opportunity to bring up the subject of death and to teach a first lesson on mortality.
Shop for seeds with your child and let them help pick out what they want to plant. Talk about flowers versus vegetables while narrowing down the choices. Steer the choice towards sunflowers, zinnias and beans as these have larger seeds that are easier for a child to handle and also sprout quickly.
Cut an egg carton in half and place the paper cups inside the top section, which now becomes a drip tray.
Place a peat pod in each paper cup; add 1/4 cup warm water to each cup. Allow to stand for 15 minutes or until the pod swells to fill the cup. Pour off any excess water.
Poke three holes in the bottom of each cup, using a sharpened pencil. These will be drain holes for the plants so they don’t drown if they get too much water.
Press three seeds into the top soil of each peat pod, covering them to a depth of approximately three times their size.
Cover each cup with a sandwich bag and place in a warm area away from drafts, such as the top of your refrigerator.
Check the cups once a day, making sure the soil stays moist. Once the seedlings sprout, move the tray to a warm, sunny location.