Planting seeds with kids is both fun and educational. Kids love digging in the dirt, and this hands-on process exposes them to the life cycle of plants. Because most seeds become active quickly once dirt, water and sun are added, kids get to experience quick, thrilling payoffs as they witness the noticeable changes of germination and root growth day by day. Many master gardeners began their careers the day they pushed a tiny seed into a Dixie cup filled with soil.
Pick out seeds that will germinate quickly. This will keep kids interested in the project. Lima bean, marigold and sweet William are good choices. A pack of each should be more than enough to get the project going.
Give the child three cups for each type of seed. Have them write the name of each different plant on the top edge of the cup, then the date of the first planting under the seed name. Finally, have them write the date of one week away and then two weeks away on the other two cups designated for the single type of seed. Planting the same type of seed weeks apart will allow the child to more fully investigate the different stages of plant growth.
Have the child fill each plastic cup about 3/4 of the way with potting soil. When the soil is ready, have him press one seed about 1/4 of an inch into the dirt and cover with a sprinkling of more dirt. Have the child use the spray bottle to mist the soil until the top inch of the soil is saturated.
Place the newly planted seed cups on a windowsill or other sunny inside location. Check daily for growth and be sure to keep the soil moist until germination begins. Repeat the same process with the same types of seeds seven days later, and then again 14 days later. Put the seeds that are planted a week apart next to each other. Germination will usually start within a few days of planting.
When the seeds have turned into a small, sturdy plant with a well-developed root system, help the kids transfer them from the cups to a permanent spot in the garden. Help them continue to care for them as they mature, flower or bear fruit and then die. Collect seeds to plant again next year.