DIY Fun Kids Root Viewer
While planting and watching a garden grow is tons of fun you kinda miss out on some of the fun and learning.
You don’t really get to see what is going on under the soil and that is where the real action takes place, at least in the beginning.
Giving kids a chance to really see what is happening underground really helps the idea of seed to plant take shape even more in their minds.
They do sell plastic root viewers online but really I enjoyed making our own for some hands-on fun and also because it only cost $3 to make it with tons of leftover seeds and soil for other garden activities or planting.
We will use ours over and over checking out how different plants look, how long it takes them to germinate, and how big they grow.
Kids Spring Activity Root Viewer
To make your own diy root viewer you will need:
a smooth cylinder vase-glass or plastic
Garden seeds- radishes, marigold, melon, and squash sprout quickly
A handful of large rocks or pebbles
Gather up all your supplies and begin by placing a layer of rocks about 3” deep in the bottom of your vase carefully.
You can use plastic but I like the transparency and durability of the glass one better so we choose a tall cylinder vase at Dollar Tree. For stones, we just used some that we had in our driveway.
Next, add the potting soil to fill your vase to about 1”-2” from the top of the rim. We were also able to get a nice sized bag of potting soil at Dollar Tree and there is plenty left in the bag for more projects.
Add 1-2 seeds to the soil 1” deep, press them in with your finger. We spread ours out in 3 different spots around the vase in case some didn’t take.
Be sure to place your seeds right up against the glass so you can watch them sprout clearly, you will also be able to see some of the roots as the reach down.
We choose radishes to plant in ours because they generally sprout pretty quick, this lets you get to the action much quicker but we will rotate our “crops” to observe other types of plants.
Water the seeds/soil well.
Now, in order for a seed to sprout it needs a moist but also dark environment so we need to cover the vase as if the seed were in the ground.
Measure the height and diameter of your vase and cut a piece of thick dark cardstock or construction paper to fit, wrap it around and tape snugly in place, tape it to the other end of the paper, not the vase so that you can easily lift it off the vase and view the process.
We made ours 2 layers thick to give the tiny seeds as much protection as possible.
Easy Kids Root Viewer
Place the cover on your vase and put your root viewer in a sunny window so that the soil can be warmed by the sun and provide the ideal conditions for your seeds to sprout.
As you put together your diy root viewer and watch the growth it’s a great time to talk about what a seed needs-water, oxygen, and proper temperature for optimal growth.
Our viewer held a lot of water and we only needed to add just a bit of water directly to the top to keep the seeds moist.
Every day slide up the cover and check out the progress. Make notes and drawings in a journal to track your plant’s growth.
Ask your child some open-ended questions to encourage their curiosity.
- What is happening?
- How has the plant changed?
- What will happen next?
- After how many days did the seed begin to open?
- How long before the leaves sprouted?
Here are our sprouts on day 1, day 3, day 5, and day 15
The kids really enjoyed being able to see a normally hidden magical process. We could see the seed as it broke open, roots as the grew down, and the stem and seeds as they reached upward for the sun.
The other thing seeds need to sprout is contained inside them- nutrients. Once they sprout in the right conditions and roots take hold and the leaves sprout they are then able to use the process of Photosynthesis to make food.
Here are some terms to go over with your child while building and watching the process…
- Photosynthesis– The process where green plants and organisms use sunlight to create food from water and carbon dioxide.
- Germination– The development of seed after planting in soil.
- Sprout– Germination process where the seed puts out roots.
- Nutrients– Something in food that helps plants, animals, and people grow.
- Dormant– The state of rest for seeds before they sprout.
Go a little deeper by learning about the basic parts of a plant- roots, stem, leaves.
You’ll also love these other activities: