Grow a Bean in a Bag Kit* or:
• 5 colored water beads per student
• One small jewelry bag per student
• Bean seed per student
Students grow a bean in a bag with water beads representing the basic elements plants need to grow and thrive.
For a great way to begin this lesson, read an age-appropriate book, such as Apples to Oregon, written by Oregon author Deborah Hopkinson. This “tall tale” is based on a real person who lived in Oregon, Henderson Luelling. Plants need our help to survive sometimes, and this tale is no exception!
1) Each student receives a small bag, bean and five water beads (light blue, dark blue, clear, yellow, and pink).
2) Ask students to choose the sunshine bead (yellow), and place the water bead in their small bag and give them facts about the sun. See below.
3) Continue with the next three water beads – brown (nutrients), dark blue (water), and clear (air). These four beads represent the essential elements plants need to live.
4) Next, have them add the red water bead, which represents the care and nurturing that goes into raising plants.
5) After, have students add the bean to the bag.
6) After the bags are made, ask them again to review what each water bead represents:
Sun/Light – yellow water bead – the source of heat and light on Earth and it sustains life on our planet.
Nutrients – light blue water bead- these are the vitamins and minerals plants require for healthy growth and development and are transported by the roots. They come in the form of different substances such as fertilizers.
Water – dark blue water bead – is a clear, odorless and tasteless liquid. Water is essential for plants and animals to live. Living organisms are made up of mostly water – plants typically are 90+% water.
Air – clear water bead – is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. Air provides plants with life giving carbon dioxide. Plants “breathe in” the CO2 through their leaves and “breath out” oxygen. .
Care – pink water bead – represents the care and nurturing on which plants thrive.
1. Compare and contrast the needs of a human and plant. Draw two circles and label one “humans” and one “plants”, list the needs of each, and the common needs in the overlapping area.
2. Have students write or draw pictures about how plants can change their environment to meet their needs. Examples: sunflowers turning with the rising and setting sun, tree roots pushing up concrete, fleshy leaves to hold more water, or seeds that stick on fur to move away.