As a teacher, it is your job to sow the seeds of knowledge, but when it comes to learning about the life cycle of plants, it's time for the kids to do the sowing. Hands-on experience with preparing soil and planting seeds connects science concepts to real life, improving both understanding and retention. Activating the senses through sight, touch and smell builds strong connections that may be lost with mere book learning.
Commercial seed starter or peat moss can both be used to start seeds successfully. Both are lightweight dry, soilless mixes that retain moisture. If potting soil is used, mix it with equal parts peat moss and perlite. Potting soil by itself is too dense for seed starting. Combining it with peat moss and perlite creates a lightweight potting medium that promotes drainage and provides adequate aeration for tiny new roots.
Peat moss and seed starter are typically dry when purchased and are difficult to work with unless moistened. Children can moisten the mixture in a large bowl or bucket. Pour the peat moss or seed starter into the bowl and add enough tepid water to lightly dampen the mixture. Stir it with large spoon until all soil feels damp, but not soggy, to the touch. The object is to make the potting medium easy to work with.
Filling Pots and Trays
Fill trays or pots with the moistened soil mixture. The potting mixture settles when wet, so fill trays and pots to the rim to allow for settling. Once seeds are planted, water the potting mixture until it is dark brown and evenly wet. Keep the potting medium evenly moist, but avoid soggy soil as this encourages disease and may rot the seeds before germination occurs.