Planting and growing beans in our preschool window

Planting and growing beans in our preschool window

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

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…

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

Bean Plant after 8 days

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. Great science discussions based on natural happenings in our classroom!

This one didn't grow....Time for a Do-Over!!




  • Marita Posted September 18, 2011 3:50 pm

    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. Posted September 18, 2011 4:35 pm

    How did you grow the carrot tops?

  • Cordial Posted September 18, 2011 6:25 pm

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

  • Sarah Posted September 18, 2011 10:08 pm

    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?

  • shar Posted September 18, 2011 10:31 pm

    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. Posted September 18, 2011 11:43 pm

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

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted September 18, 2011 11:43 pm

    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:)

  • Yorinda Posted September 20, 2011 4:50 pm

    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!


  • Glenda Manley Posted March 4, 2017 2:37 pm

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

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted March 4, 2017 5:38 pm

    This works well all year round!

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  • soraya Posted April 2, 2017 3:59 pm

    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. Posted April 2, 2017 8:33 pm

    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.

  • Jen Posted April 10, 2017 3:05 pm

    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. Posted April 10, 2017 10:45 pm

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

  • Lynde F. Ugoretz Posted April 11, 2017 9:37 pm

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

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted April 11, 2017 11:00 pm

    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.

  • Brenda Rust Posted April 14, 2017 2:32 pm

    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!

  • Jerry (Jerome) Brown Posted November 10, 2017 10:51 pm

    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…

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