Planting and growing beans in our preschool window

Bean growing is a great way to explore science in your classroom!

With all the bean measuring and play going on, we also took the time to explore how beans grow…

The Bean Growing Process

This was a simple way to plant a bean. We started with cotton balls, water, plastic baggies, and a bowl of water…

Each child dipped their cotton balls into water and placed them in their baggie. They used enough cotton balls to fill all the way across the bottom of the baggie…

Next each child added some lima beans to their baggie. They wanted to add handfuls so we had to remind them that the beans needed space to grow so only add four or five…

Before introducing this activity to the children, I had previously soaked the lima beans overnight to speed up the growing process a bit…

Observing Changes Over Time

Once the children finished adding their cotton balls and beans to their baggies, we then closed up the zipper and taped them to our window (make sure the baggies are sealed tight so they hold in the moisture). Now all we have to do is wait and see what happens. We will talk about the growth of the beans as they start to shoot out some sprouts…

Beans after one day in the window

Making Predictions

Children made predictions about what they thought would happen next during the course of the bean growing experiment.

Bean plant after 8 days

Scientific Discoveries

I think we added too much water in a few of our plants – or we didn’t seal them tightly enough or perhaps we got too carried away with the number of beans in the bag. In any case, we had a few that didn’t grow. So we are going to try again next week for those who would like to do it again. The interesting thing is that we were able to talk about why some didn’t grow as well as why we think some did. This lead to some great inquiry and scientific discussions on similarities and differences based on natural observations happening in our classroom!

This one didn’t grow… Time for a Do-Over!!


By |2018-12-06T12:42:51+00:00September 18th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Marita September 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    We’ve currently got carrot tops growing on our window sill which my 6yo thinks is enthralling. Will have to give the beans a go as I think she would love them too.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm - Reply

      How did you grow the carrot tops?

  2. Cordial September 18, 2011 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Sometimes I just browse through your site for gentle reminders of activities to do in my Kindergarten classroom. Thanks

  3. Sarah September 18, 2011 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Do you ever have a problem with mold? When I’ve used a paper towel for this activity it seems like my seeds always go moldy . . . . Any suggestions?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 18, 2011 at 11:43 pm - Reply

      Yep – they will mold if you get them too wet and if they sit too long. We just have to throw them away:) One thing I would suggest is to take photos or have the children draw the plants as they grow so you have something to keep as an alternative to moldy plants:)

  4. shar September 18, 2011 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    I love this Deborah. Have you seen ‘living walls’? Wouldn’t it be cool to find a fast sprouting plant that would eventually turn into a wall feature! Shar

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 18, 2011 at 11:43 pm - Reply

      Haha – no I haven’t seen that – but would love to!

  5. Yorinda September 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    What a great way to teach children how to plant from seed!

    I love the bag on the window with their names on it. So cool!

    Thanks for sharing this visual example!


  6. Glenda Manley March 4, 2017 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    When is the best time to do this project with the lima beans?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 4, 2017 at 5:38 pm - Reply

      This works well all year round!

  7. […] principle was pretty simple really; I got the idea from here. Basically, the kids get a plastic ziplock bag; they wet down 4-5 cotton balls and drop them in the […]

  8. soraya April 2, 2017 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    I have a question. If we seal the baggies tight how will the seeds get ample air (CO2)? And how frequent do you water the seeds?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 2, 2017 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      Hi Soraya,
      Once you add a little water and seal the baggy tightly, the plants will create their own air and moisture. My suggestion is to give it a try for yourself and see it work before sharing it with the children.

  9. Jen April 10, 2017 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    I’ve never did this, is there a certain kind of beans that work better? Where did you get them?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 10, 2017 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      I just buy them at my grocery store and lima beans work really well. I buy them by the bag and soak them overnight.

  10. Lynde F. Ugoretz April 11, 2017 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    Do you plant them in soil after a while? When do you plant them, if ever?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 11, 2017 at 11:00 pm - Reply

      Hi Lynde,
      We could definitely plant them in soil but in our case, we watch them through the full life cycle in the baggie. We have on still growing in the baggie that was put there at the beginning of the school year. Moving to soul could be done at anytime.

  11. Brenda Rust April 14, 2017 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    I did this with my kiddos this spring. We learned that you do not want your paper towel/cotton balls saturated, just moistened as the Lima beans will become soft and mushy and will stink. Turns out we
    “Drowned” many of them so had to start over. We did 10 beans (after being soaked overnight) per baggie then threw out the ones that did not sprout. We spread out the sprouted ones with those baggies that had no sprouts. The plantings were spread out throughout the week (different groups of kids) so we should have only soaked enough for each day as the later beans were a bit too soft by the time we planted them later in the week… We learned that we need to do lots of extra beans in baggies just to replace the ones that do not grow…just like gardeners do…they plant more than they need usually just in case some do not grow… We had to replace quite a few with the extras…We also decided the sprout is best planted going up or the bean could lay on its side…. Very cool activity!

  12. Jerry (Jerome) Brown November 10, 2017 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    I heard about a class project — maybe 3rd graders? — using beans, something about diversity, and how many beans result from just one bean planted, and remember some image about the kids at the end going away with bags of many different kind of beans. No idea how to find that project again…

  13. 35 Seed Activities for Young Kids March 19, 2018 at 6:49 am - Reply

    […] Starting Seeds in a Ziploc Bag (Teach Preschool) […]

  14. […] Plant a bean in a bag: Wet a paper towel and set a bean seed on it. Place it inside a clear zip bag and tape to the window. Watch as it sprouts over the rest of the month. Find in depth instructions here. […]

  15. […] Plant a bean in a bag: Wet a paper towel and set a bean seed on it. Place it inside a clear zip bag and tape to the window. Watch as it sprouts over the rest of the month. Find in depth instructions here. […]

  16. Tiffany April 24, 2018 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Do you need to re water the cotton balls? I have read that with the paper towel you needed to get the towel wet again each day and give it air…with the cotton ball is that still true? would assume that the cotton ball could dry out

    • Deborah Stewart June 8, 2018 at 3:14 pm - Reply

      The cotton balls do not dry out. In fact, use very little water or it gets moldy. Keep the bag sealed!

  17. Rei April 28, 2018 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    I actually did this with my daughter a few years ago and never thought about adding it to my kindergarten class- but I think it would be a great way to introduce the concept of ‘Spring’. As an ESL kindergarten teacher it’s hard to explain ideas like seasons when there is no translation…but I might be able to show them.

  18. […] To see an alternative way of setting up this experiment, click here! […]

Leave A Comment

This site uses 'cookies' to give you the best, most relevant experience. Using the website means you're OK with this. Ok