Grow a Garden Classroom: Seed Dissection and Germination Observation



Students will dissect and identify the parts of a lima bean seed, make daily observations with the seeds during the process of germination and determine the effect of different growing conditions on germination. Students will also observe the growth of their plant and its life cycle.

Subject: Science

Grade level: Lower Elementary

Length: Three 60-minute lessons, 1 week of daily observations, one 60-minute conclusion


Student Objectives

  • What are the three main parts of a seed? (They are the seed coat, the embryo, and the food supply.)
  • What do seeds need to grow into plants? (They need light, water, the right temperature, nutrients, room to grow, and time.)
  • Can you identify the parts and function of plant components on both your seedling and a mature lima bean plant?
  • What is the life cycle of a plant?

Common Core Standards

Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements or performing technical tasks.

Kansas Science Standards

Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.

Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents.

Plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plants need sunlight and water to grow.

Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction and death.

Missouri Science Standards

ME 5.1
Identify light from the sun as a basic need of most plants.

LO 1.2
Explore living things (e.g., animals, plants and people).

LO 1.5
Identify one or more basic needs for plants (e.g., air, water and/or light).

LO 1.6
Investigate what happens when a plant’s growing conditions are changed (e.g., dark versus light; water versus no water).

LO 2.2
Engage in a plant life cycle activity (e.g., watching a seedling grow into a mature plant).

LO 3.3
Explore common plants (e.g., grass, flowers, and/or trees).

LO 2.3
Identify the plant life cycle (e.g., seed germination, growth, reproduction and/or death).

LO 3.3
Explore common plants (e.g., grass, flowers and/or trees).

LO 3.4
Identify one or more physical structures of common plants (e.g., stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, roots and/or fruits).

LO 3.5
Identify the function of one or more of the following plant structures: roots, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds and/or fruits (e.g., roots hold plants in place and bring nutrients and water from soil to the plant; stems provide plants support and let water and nutrients move throughout the plant; plants use leaves to make food; and/or flowers, seeds, and fruits are related to the reproduction of flowering plants).

Instructional Plan


  • Embryo: tiny plant inside a seed that is ready to grow
  • Food Supply (Cotyledon): the material that feeds the baby plant
  • Germination: process in which a seed grows into a plant
  • Shoot: the first growth of the plant out of the seed
  • Roots: part of a plant that holds it in the soil and takes up water and nutrients.
  • Stem: part of a plant that holds the leaves up to the light
  • Leaf: part of the plant that makes food
  • Flower: part of the plant that makes seeds
  • Photosynthesis: process in which a plant absorbs the sun’s energy and changes it to food


Day 1:

  • Discuss and remind students to never eat the seeds from the science lesson.
  • Pass out one lima bean seed to each student. Using a journal page titled: Bean Seed Observation Day 1, have students trace the seed for its size, write a description of their bean, and add color to their trace.
  • Discuss with students what a seed needs to grow. Have students make a list of ideas in their journal entry.
  • Collect the seeds from the students. Explain that all seeds will be soaked in water overnight.
  • Have students write their predictions on how this will affect the seeds in their journal.

Day 2:

  • Pass out one soaked seed, one paper towel, one tooth pick and one
  • magnifying lens to each student.
  • Have students create a Bean Seed
  • Observation Day 2 entry in their journal
  • After carefully drying off the soaked seed, instruct the students to trace the soaked seed in their Day 2 journal. Have them compare and contrast their observations from the two days.
  • Carefully remove the seed coat. Have students carefully open one of their beans along its side with a toothpick or fingernail.
  • Ask the class to look closely at the two halves of the seed.
  • Draw attention to the embryo inside the seed. Ask, “What do you think this thing is inside the seed?”
  • Using the “What are the Parts of a Seed?” Worksheet, help students label the parts of the seed. As a class, discuss the function of each seed part. Have students record this on their worksheet.
  • Collect the paper towels and save for the next day. Explain that the opened seeds will not grow well and soak another 30 seeds overnight for use on day three.

Day 3

  • Discuss what seeds will need to grow. Have students write down their ideas in their journal entries for Day 3. Discuss that germination is the process in which a seed grows into a plant. Have the students write down this definition in their journal entry for Day 3.
  • Explain that they will grow seeds in 4 different environments to observe what happens. (Sunny with water, sunny without water, dark with water, and dark without water)
  • In their journals, have students make predictions on what will happen to the germination of each in the different growing environments.
  • Pass out another soaked seed, one plastic bag and a paper towel from Day 2 to each student.
  • Divide the class into 4 groups based on the growing environments. Using the masking tape, have students write the type of growing environment for their bean on the bag.
  • Have students fold the paper towel so it fits in the bag. Have students whose growing environments include water dampen the towel in the sink, place it in the bottom of the bag and place the soaked bean on top so it can be seen. Students whose growing environments do not include water will simply fold the paper towel, put it in the bag and place the seed on top so it can be seen. Then, zip the bag shut.
  • Tape the bags up in the designated areas for the growing environment. Sunny groups can be taped to a window, while dark groups can be placed in a hallway or closet.


(1 week or until beans have sprouted)

  • Have students record what they observe in the bags each day for all four groups in their journal. They should both describe what they see and make a sketch.
  • Continue observation until beans have sprouted, adding water to the appropriate groups as needed.
  • Point out that plants have specific structures and these structures emerge in a specific order (Shoots, roots, stems, leaves and flowers). As the parts emerge from the seeds and grow, point them out to the students, discuss their functions and have them record them in their bean observations.
  • Discuss the life cycle of the plants (seed, seedling, mature plant, flower and back to seed). Have students record this in their journals.
  • At the end of the observation period discuss the findings as a class. In their journals have students answer the following questions:
    • What did I predict would happen?
    • What did I observe?
    • Which group had the most success?
    • Which group had the least success?
    • What do bean seeds need for germination?

Conclusion Lesson

  • Review the parts of a seed, plant and stages of the life cycle with the class.
  • As a class, complete the review on the Garden Observation Worksheet.
  • Pass out clipboards to students, have them place their worksheets on it and bring them out to the garden.
  • In the garden, have students observe a mature bean plant and complete the Garden Observation Worksheets.
  • Discuss student findings as a class.


Help harvest the lima beans from the garden and create delicious recipes!

Assessment Considerations

Collect all worksheets and journals to assess student understanding.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email