The beginning of the school year, which usually starts up during the last weeks of summer, is a great time to observe, collect, and learn about seeds in the garden as well as plant life cycles. Before you think about ripping out all the plants that have turned to seed as you prepare the beds for new seedlings, you can have your students hunt for and pop open some of the seed pods to see the variety of seeds out there. It is also a great chance to talk about why we save seeds. A second grader commented, “We can save the seeds and fundraise for the garden by selling them!” Have them brainstorm why saving seeds is important and you’ll get some creative answers. To prepare for the activity you can survey your garden and create a seed chart to show your students.
Activity wise, for all grade levels, you can mark each area with the name of the seeds that are available for collection and include a clipboard with an image of what the seed looks like along with the original plant before it turned to seed. For younger students we simply observed, collected, and labeled our seeds. For older students we had them tape down examples and talked about different characteristics of seeds as well as how they travel. We used simple coin envelopes from an office supply store, but you can also have your students fold origami seed packets from paper. Here are some photos of our 1st graders out saving seeds.