Growing Lima Beans: Do We Really Need Dirt?

Sue Butter,Great Expectations School, Grand Marais, MN
Based on an original activity from, "Thematic Learning Centers", Teacher Created Resources
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The student will investigate different growth mediums for a lima bean seed. The student will grow a lima bean in a moist paper towel and grow a second lima bean in a paper cup with soil. The student will then document the growth by journaling it in a booklet one time a week. Each page will be divided in half so that the student can compare and contrast the growth.

Learning Goals

The students will understand the process of the growth of a lima bean seed. The students will recognize the stage of growth in each seed. The students will compare and contrast the two seeds and note the differences in their journals. The students will be able to identify the key components necessary for growth- water, sunlight, and food.

Context for Use

This activity was developed for a Kindergarten/First grade classroom. The class has 15 students. It would be completed over a one month period. The student would need more time at the beginning of the activity to plant and discuss the expected outcomes and a smaller amount of classroom time to document the growth. The wrap-up time at the end would also be a bit longer because the students will spend time discussing the outcomes and sharing their plant journals. The students would have spent time sorting beans and dissecting a lima bean seed prior to this activity.

Subject: Biology
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity
Grade Level: Primary (K-2)

Description and Teaching Materials

The class will begin this activity by developing a KWL chart about what a seed needs to grow. Once the class has worked on the chart each of the students will plant two seeds. One will be placed in a moist paper towel. The other will be placed in a paper cup with soil and water. Have the children make predictions about the outcome and note these on a chart to display. One time a week have the children draw and write about the growth of both plants. Refer back to the chart of predicted outcomes and ask them if they think that they have predicted correctly so far. Do this for one month. At the end of the cycle ask the children to tell you the differences in growth. Make sure they identify the lack of food in the paper towel seed as a key missing ingredient. Give the students the opportunity to share their booklets with the entire class.
The class will need-
1. Two lima beans per child
2. One moist paper towel per child
3. One wax coated paper cup per child
4. Potting soil
5. Plant growing journal-each page divided in half to compare and contrast the two seeds
6. KWL chart
7. Chart of predicted outcomes
This activity is adapted from, "Thematic Learning Centers" Teacher Created Materials, Inc.

Teaching Notes and Tips

You may want to start a few beans ahead of time for the ones that may not grow so those students will still have something to compare and contrast. Make sure you put a tray under your cups. Make sure that the beans are watered daily.


The students will be assessed through the weekly discussion times and through the completion and sharing of their plant journals.


K.I.B.1-Scientific Inquiry
1.I.B.1 Scientific Inquiry
1.IV.B.1 Organisms
1.IV.F.1 Flow of Matter and Energy

References and Resources