Bean seeds are an amazing educational tool as children can actually see the changes that occur as it morphs from a seed to a sprout to a plant. Because the bean plant is the fastest growing family of plant kingdom, impatient children won't have to wait long to see the changes occur. Students can record the changes of their bean seed in a journal to mark its progress.
The germination of a bean seed takes approximately one week. This can be illustrated to students by placing the bean in a plastic cup, using wet paper towels as "soil." Before placing the seed in a cup, however, have students weigh their seed and note it in their journal. The moisture of the paper towels will soften the bean's tough outer shell. After a week, a small sprout called the hypocotyl appears. The first root structure is now developed. Students can describe and illustrate this first development in their journal.
The bean seed now grows into a plant. During this stage children will witness the sprout, or hypocotyl, straighten out. This is due to the bean seed's exposure to sunlight. Children can watch their sprout as it "reaches" for the sun. Have children illustrate this stage of the bean's growth in their journal and have them draw the root system will also develop during this time. The roots will be visible through the cup. This is the longest process in the cycle of a bean seed, as it takes about six weeks.
Reproduction and Flowering
Students will now witness the flowering of their bean sprout. However, they will not see the flowers they are expecting, as the flowers actually resemble leaves. Before the plant flowers, instruct the children to draw in their journal the type of flower they expect to see, then later have them draw what actually develops. The flowers are very important to the plant's life cycle as they aid in reproduction. The growth of the flowers fertilise the plant and aids in its next step of growth. The flowers then wither and fall off the stem.
Students will now see another bean pod as it appears after the flowers have withered and died. Inside the bean pod, new bean seeds are emerging. When to harvest the seeds inside the pod depends on the variety of bean that has been grown. Once matured, the children can split the pod open and see the new bean seeds that have grown or the children can wait for the pod to open on its own and the new bean seed will fall into the cup.
Children can now determine whether to replant their bean seed and repeat the process or they can be taught different ways to prepare their bean seed for eating. The nutritional benefits of the bean can be taught to the children as they are a good source of carbohydrates, iron and protein.