Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Art Ed Blogger Network- STEAM/Arts Integration: Growing a Bean

Kids are fascinated with nature.  They love seeing how things work, change, interact and grow.  
Watching a seed change takes time but can become a great early childhood lesson.  
Growing a bean in a bag would be a lesson going on in the background for several weeks but
the ever-changing seed will be visited several times throughout its morph into a plant guaranteed!

Observation is a huge part of this lesson.  Students will be observing and drawing the ever-changing bean
in the many stages that it takes.  Before starting the germination process, students should observe and
draw the seed. You could use a sketchbook or worksheet.  Once the first observation has been made,
it’s time to ‘plant the seed’.

You will need a dry bean, a plastic bag, and a moist paper towel.  The paper towel is placed into the
bag flat and the bean placed in the middle of the paper towel.  You want to make sure the bean is
‘floating’ in the middle of the paper towel rather than laying at the bottom of the bag.  In a classroom
setting, I would encourage you to allow every student to grow their own bean or at least start several
beans.  There is a chance that some of the beans might rot, so it’s good to start several. It’s also
interesting how each bean has a different timeline for germination.  Place the ‘bean bags’ in the window
with lots of light using painters tape.

After several days have the kids move to the window, or carefully remove the bags to bring to their desk.  
They can do their second observational drawing This time they might note the changes in the bean
shell, or perhaps a little poke of the root.  They might even discover mold growing on the paper towel
(this is part of the process, so no worries about that). You will continue to visit the beans as a class every
couple days, but let me tell you, the baby plants will be looked at more often than that.  I’m amazed at the
high interest this low tech project receives from kids.

There are so many facets to this wonderful lesson.  Students will come away with an understanding
of the several stages of a plant.  They will see and document the many stages that we normally can’t see
because it typically takes place under the ground.  This lesson closely relates to Science curriculum and
can cross over to other subjects as well. Students could do math problems or graphs by counting the
number of roots on their seedling.  They could write about the stages of the bean in a nonfiction way. The
lesson could be a jumping off point for many other Art projects.  This is a rich lesson that will teach and
encourage curiosity and lifelong knowledge.

This is a lesson I'm bringing back into my classroom this year (if time allows) but I originally posted
about this lesson several years ago when my mini Matisse was truely MINI... She is now 10 years old and
has successfully graduated from speech therapy... What a sweety she was (and still is). This video could
be a great example of how your students/child could document the process of the beans. Using an app
like Seesaw would allow students to be more independent with their documentation of the growing process.
It could also allow your students to learn from another child which is always engaging.

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