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Observing Plant Growth, Beans in a Jar Stages of Development Experiment

With little kids growing a bean stalk in a jar just like Jack and the Beanstalk is a really fun simple science experiment. They can observe the roots growing see the shoot and more. But that same experiment can be used with older children to explore plant growth in more detail. Although similar to toddler experiment this one is aimed at observing the plant growth and stages of development in dicotyledon plants. So here we go plant growth experiment with beans in a jar.

Free printable seed observation sheet beside a dissection tray showing different stages of bean development. A simple bean in a jar plant growth experiment for kids.

Beans in a Jar Growth Experiment for Kids

Beans are an ideal seed to use for this growth experiment with the kids and by using a glass jar instead of a pot you can observe the growth in situ from the first emerging root to the first real leaves.

Pinterest collage image for a Seed Observation Experiment with runner beans

This experiment takes place over a 2 week period and you will need to either have multiple jars set up so that you can compare the growth at the same time (as we demonstrate below) or remove, observe and journal as you go.

If you have younger kids then they can do this too – why not try our Jack and the Beanstalk Science Experiment.

bean germination experiment for kids

Growth of Plants from the Seed

Plants need water to grow from a seed. The water is absorbed by the seed coating and that swells allowing the embryonic seed to emerge. The seed embryo has 2 points that develop and a large bean seed is ideal for showing these easily to kids.

First, the root tip grows and by geotropism (the process where the root grows down and the shoot grows up) it grows downwards. This root then divides at multiple points to allow more and more root development to let the plant take up the dissolved nutrients into the stem and to the leaves, flowers and fruit as needed.

a white tray with 3 beans at different stages of growth from the first root through to the 2 real leaves emerging for a plant science experiment to do with kids

As the roots develop the second part of the embryo starts to develop forming the shoot and the first leaves. On a bean these are the “seed leaves” and don’t look like the leaves of the plant.

bean showing the first 2 real leaves the 2 seed leaves emerging from it's seed casing as part of a science experiment for kids

Once these 2 leaves are formed the stem grows up between them and the first true leaves appear.

seed journal and activities printables showing the pages from Rainy Day Mum Shop

Seed Germination Activity Pack ~ $5.00

Project pack for kids to explore seed germination and plant growth.

Beans in a Jar Experiment

Observing this is so simple to do and is great for kids to record their observations as they go. You could even set up a camera and take images at regularly intervals and show the development using timelapse or stop motion type software that is free on most tablets and phones.

Materials Needed for this Plant Growth Experiment

  • Glass Jar
  • Bean Seeds (broad or runner beans)
  • Paper towel
  • Water
  • Science Journal, notebook or Seed Growth Printable (available in the seed germination pack or free to subscribers below)

Setting up your Plant Germination Observation Jar

This is the method for observing all stages at the end. You will be repeating the stages at 3 day intervals so that you can have a number of stages to lay out and observe at the same time.

1. Place the paper towel in the clean glass jar.

2. On the outside of the jar between the paper and glass place 3 beans, we use 3 beans so that have the greatest likely hood of them growing.

a runner bean seed in a glass jar with wet paper towel behind

3. Water the paper towel thoroughly

4. Place the jar in a light but not under direct sun area and keep watered.

5. After 3 days add in 3 more beans.

3 different stages of bean growth in a glass jar a simple plant experiment for kids to observe growth happening

6. Repeat step 5 until you can observe the different stages from the seed casing swelling to the first 2 real leaves forming.

stages of seed development laid out on a tray as observed by a child over a period of time

Recording the Growth

Whether you use our seed journal page from the activity pack above, our free to subscribers seed journal, notebook or science journal the process is the same.

seed observation sheet from the rainy day mum pack next to a tray containing 4 stages of bean development from first root through to the first 2 real leaves forming a simple science experiment for plant development and growth for kids

Using a HB pencil draw the different stages of germination of the seed. The full stages are below but you can pick as many of them as you wish.

girl making science drawings of a plant growth experiment to see the stages that happen from seed to leaves forming under the soil

Stage 1 – Seed casing swelling and breaking

Stage 2 – Embryonic root emerging and descending

Stage 3 – Root development spreading out and forming branches

Stage 4 – Embryonic shoot emerging and the seed casing breaking apart

Stage 5 – First 2 seed leaves

Stage 6 – First true leaves of the bean formed

plant experiment scientific drawing with stages from seed to leaves forming of a bean

More Plant Science Experiments for Kids

Want to learn more about plants then try some of these other plant science experiments for kids

A picture of a dissected tulip showing the male and female reproductive organs with a dissection needle beside. Text on the image reads Plant Science Experiment Reproductive Organs
Simple science for kids to do at home whatever their age from tots to teens. Growing carrot tops
celery science experiment for kids to investigate transpiration

Plant Science in the Rainy Day Mum Shop

seed journal and activities printables showing the pages from Rainy Day Mum Shop

Plant Growth Activity Pack ~ $5.00

preview of a Plants Activity set printable pack all about photosynthesis and plant cells

Plant Cells & Photosynthesis ~ $5.00

Pinterest image for a bean in a jar experiment with free observation printable showing the beans germinated in the jar with leaves forming

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