Category: Plant Science (Page 2 of 8)

STEM #Kidlit Seed Dispersal Book

Let’s explore another of the fantastic nonfiction children’s books that have been nominated for 2018 Cybils awards.

Although it may seem like a weird to be thinking of seeds and seedlings, in Arizona we plant our fall gardens this month. For that reason, A Seed is the Start by Melissa Stewart is timely.

Although the word “start” in the title and the pictures of sunflowers germinating on the cover suggests this books is about plant life cycles, with exception of a corn kernel germinating on pages 4-5 and an apple seed growing on pages 30-31, this book is about much more. In fact it is mainly about seed dispersal. Whether it is by wind, water, or animal taxi, author Melissa Stewart reveals the many, many ways seeds get around.

The color photographs are high-quality, as you would expect from National Geographic. From flying dandelion seeds to floating cottonwood seeds, the photographs will attract the reader’s attention.

A Seed is the Start is a lovely introduction to seeds and seed dispersal. Use it to sprout an interest in plants in a young reader today.

Activity Suggestions To Celebrate the Book:

1. Germinate a pumpkin seed.

Do you have some pumpkin seeds left over from Halloween or from Thanksgiving pies?

They can make an educational germination project.

1. Pumpkin seeds (unsalted, raw)
2. Small containers – *see note
3. Potting soil

*Note:  Seeds may be started in almost any recycled container. Old milk cartons, newspaper pots, even empty egg shells can serve as containers. Put an opening in the bottom of the container for drainage and set it in a tray, and/or add some gravel or pebbles to cover the bottom.

Fill the containers with soil. Press one or two seed into the soil so covered slightly. Water until moist and keep watered regularly. Set in a sunny window.

If you prepare several sets, allow the children to carefully remove one or two of the seedlings from the soil over time. Discuss what they see, measure the stems and roots, and make drawings or take photographs to record the progress as the seed germinates and then the plant grows from day to day.

2. See our previous post for a fun quiz and seed dispersal activities.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (February 13, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1426329776
ISBN-13: 978-1426329777

Check out our growing list of children’s books about seeds at Science Books for Kids.


Disclosure: This book was provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

7 Ways to Add Plants to Your World

Tuesdays are traditionally plant science days here at Growing with Science and New Year’s is a great time to make plans for the upcoming year. Let’s resolve to add more plants to our world in 2016. Here are some child-friendly ways to celebrate plants.

How to Add More Plants to Your World

  1. Plant some herbs in a container, windowsill, or garden.

Herbs are hardy and easy to propagate. Many herbs start readily by taking a stem cutting and putting it into a container of water. Once roots appear, plant in a pot and put in a sunny window.

mint-sprouting-closerYour rooting container doesn’t have to be fancy. This is a plastic water bottle cut in half.

thyme and mint_0028

You can also move herbs outside into pots or gardens once the weather warms.

Growing herbs can have many benefits. Use fresh herbs in cooking to improve flavor. Let herbs go to flower and they will supply nectar to butterflies and other pollinating insects.

2. Grow and pot a houseplant for someone.

Many houseplants also can be grown from cuttings, such as pothos, spider plants, jade plants, etc.


Start some cuttings, pot them up, and give them as a gift to someone.

Plants can remind people of someone special for years to come. For example, this pothos cutting was from a plant originally given to my son by his fifth grade teacher many years ago. We remember him fondly when we tend to the plant.

3. Plant a vegetable garden.

Gardening with children is a wonderful experience because there are so many benefits.


Not only do children learn about soil, weather, water, plants, and animals,

cluster-of-tomatoesbut they also are often more likely to try and eat different types of fresh vegetables if they grow the vegetables themselves.

Now is a great time to start planning for spring.

4. Get involved in a school or community garden.

No place for a garden of your own? Not an experienced gardener? Look around for opportunities to participate in a school or community garden.

hershey-community-gardenSchool and community gardens are places to share ideas about gardening, and as well as help others.

5. Plant a hollyhock or sunflower “forest.”

We are often conservative when it comes to planting flowers and stick to low-growing varieties. Go wild this year and plant large blocks of big plants.

sunflower-plantChildren love to make forts, huts or other play spaces among the towering plants.

sunlit-sunflower-0144Sunflowers supply nectar for a variety of pollinators. If you let them go to seed, they can supply food for people and birds, as well.

hollyhock4Hollyhocks are incredibly hardy and require relatively little water for their size. They are biennials, however, so you will need to wait for them to reach full size.

pretty-yellow-pink-hollyhock-sunny058Hollyhocks also supply nectar, pollen and seeds for wildlife.

6. Plant a pollinator or butterfly garden.

Gardening for pollinators is a fun way to learn both about local plants and the importance of pollinators.

bee with pollenThe best way to encourage pollinators is to choose plants that naturally occur where you live.

bright-California-poppies-front-yardNative plants are easier to grow, too.

Check out these related posts:

7. Plant a tree

Trees supply some many things, from shade to wood. Consider adding trees to plans for planting this year.


See a related post about trees useful for butterfly gardens (scroll down past books)


How are you going to add plants to your world this year? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Plant Science Intermission: Seeing Seeds Book

Rather than having a lesson today, I thought we’d have a short intermission and take a look at a book (written at the adult level) about seeds that came out recently . Seeing Seeds: A Journey into the World of Seedheads, Pods, and Fruit by Teri Dunn Chace and Robert Llewellyn could be used as a coffee table book due to the superb illustrations, but the informative text makes it something much more.

The first thing you will notice about this book are the illustrations. Robert Llewellyn uses a relatively new technique called “image stacking,” which involves take multiple images at different levels and then melding them together using computer software to create a crisply-focused, almost three dimensional image. When you first pick up the book, you will be mesmerized by these images, which grace every page (Timber Press shows previews on its website.)

What is even more thrilling about this book, however, was the quality botanical information. For example, the spread on spider flower reveals that what look like seed pods are actually called “siliques.” Because members of the Brassicaceae have similar structures, the plants were originally assigned to that family. Looking a DNA, however, botanists have now moved these plants to their own family, the Cleomaceae. Fascinating!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know we’ve been featuring mystery seeds and Seed of the Week for several years. Seeing Seeds is a wonderful resource to expand and continue studies on seeds and seed pods.

Have you seen this book? What did you think?

Hardcover: 284 pages
Publisher: Timber Press (August 26, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1604694920
ISBN-13: 978-1604694925

Disclosure: This book is my own copy. I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title or image link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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