What's Going On?

Shooting sprouts

Activity overview

15 mins
Ages 5 – 7

Science topics:


Spark a conversation with this video showing the transformation from seed to sprout. This activity is great for describing observations and applying ideas in unfamiliar contexts.

Run the activity

1. You’re going to watch a short video. The aim isn't to find right answers, it's to explore ideas and find out what they know.

  • Do they know what might happen based on the image?

2. After you've watched the video, lead a discussion with your class:

  • What do the seeds need to germinate?
  • How do the seeds change during the film?
  • What do the children notice about the shoots as they grow?
  • How do the roots change during the film?

3. Ask the class to describe what they saw using only one word.

Background science

This timelapse video shows a selection of bean seeds germinating in a clear sided box so that children will be able to see clearly what is happening. First the roots appear, quickly followed by shoots. As the roots develop and grow deeper they begin to divide and produce root hairs. The roots stabilise the plant and the root hairs help to increase the surface area so that the plant can absorb the water and nutrients it needs for growth.

The first leaves are seed leaves. New leaves are needed so that the plant has enough energy. Children may get confused about energy and nutrients. Humans and animals eat food to give us energy and nutrients but a plant makes its energy in its leaves, and most plants obtain the nutrients they need to make new growth from the soil.

Have a look at this content from the BBC on seed germination and plant growth

Take it further

Ask your children to collect seeds, anything from lemon pips to acorns, so they can grow seedlings and watch them up close. Be aware that some seeds need a period of dormancy before they germinate so some patience might be needed. Melon seeds are often quite quick to germinate.

Take a look at this guide from Science and Plants for Schools which gives hints and tips for classroom gardeners.

You could also use this BBC video to discuss the names of parts of a plant. They could rehearse the vocabulary with this labelling game

Image credit: Tico via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0;
Video credit: Ales Kladnik via Vimeo CC BY-NC-SA 3.0;