Grow a garden with an extra dose of environmental-friendliness by using plant scraps that usually get thrown away. Full of dirty hands-on fun, this activity is a great way to teach your kids about the science behind plant growth.
Introduce the experiment by talking about the six basic parts of plants: roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit, and seeds. Ask her to think about some of the plant-based foods, including carrots and pineapples, that she eats regularly and guess what part of the plant each one is. She probably already knows that pineapples are fruit but does she know that carrots are actually roots?
What You Do:
- Start with the carrot top plants. Ask your child to fill the shallow bowl about 1/2” deep with sand. If she likes, invite her to decorate the edges of the sand with pebbles.
- Have your child carefully trim off any leaves from the carrot top so they're no longer than 1/2”.
- Get your child to push the carrot tops into the sand so the bottoms are close to the bottom of the bowl.
- Ask her to fill the bowl with lukewarm water to the level of the top of the sand.
- Leave the bowl in a sunny area. Have your child water her carrot top plants every day to make sure they don’t dry out.
- Leaves should start sprouting within a week. After a few weeks, the plants should be quite tall!
- Now make the pineapple plant. Have your child cut the top off the fresh pineapple, trim off any flesh, and strip off any lower leaves. She should be left with about 1 inch of exposed stalk. Let the stalk and leaves dry for a week.
- Ask her to put the stalk in a glass of water. Make sure none of the leaves are touching the water.
- Place the plant in a spot that doesn't vary too much in temperature. Encourage her to check on its progress periodically and chage its water every two days.
- After a few days, you should see roots growing from the bottom of the pineapple.
- Once she sees roots, invite her to plant the pineapple plant in the pot of soil. Make sure the pot is large enough to accommodate the roots and gives them enough room to expand.
- Keep the plant in a warm, sunny place. Encourage your child to water it once a week.
Have your child brainstorm other parts of plants that would normally get thrown away that could be replanted. Root vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, and beets work well. You can also use this activity to start a conversation about recycling and reusing. Ask her to think of things she usually throws away that could be recycled or reused.
Shaheen Bilgrami has been writing and editing children's books for over twelve years. Her books have been published all over the world.