In the Oak Meadow course books, growing seeds and rooting plants are two of the science projects offered in the lesson plans. Sometimes, due to external variables, experiments are not always successful; and observing no changes can certainly lead to the disappointment of an innocent, wide-eyed, hopeful child. In the kindergarten and third grade coursework, rooting an avocado pit and sprouting a sweet potato are suggested science experiments. Several of the Oak Meadow K-8 teachers provided helpful hints for more successful results, along with alternative activities to try:
Sarah Antel: The sweet potato must be organic as standard sweets are sprayed with something to prevent sprouting.
Andy Kilroy: You know what works well – a regular white potato put into a pot of dirt. I always plant one on St. Patrick’s Day (old Irish superstition) and it always comes up with beautiful green leaves. The home teacher will need to buy the potato a month before they want to plant it so it can start eyeing out. The avocado will grow again if you put it in dirt. Somehow the dirt seems to be the key, but again, you must leave it plenty of time. Avocados are sensitive and dry out and can die quickly, if not enough water is applied. I did both projects with my granddaughter last year and she loved it – especially when we dug up the tiny taters and ate them for lunch (takes about six weeks). Also mung beans!! You can get those any time in a good farmer’s supply store, wet them, put them in a mason jar under the sink and wait for a couple of days. We did this all the time when my kids were little to have bean sprouts in our stir fry. Alfalfa works, too.
Leslie Daniels: I’ve planted sweet potatoes in garden pots. The student may not be able to view the root growth, but the vines are SO pretty! I have also suggested sprouting wheat berries. The roots and sprouts are fun to watch grow, because it is a speedy process, and they are wonderful edibles, too.
Meg Minehan: My kids also do soil sprouts http://www.thedailygardener.com/sprout-kits/
We use sunflower, radish, buckwheat, peas… they are fun and really tasty. This is a great time of year for them, too.
Michelle Menegaz: I remember as a kid being totally fascinated with the greens that eventually shoot out of the top cut off a carrot when it is placed in a shallow dish of water.
Lesley Arnold: Me too! I loved watching that carrot top sprout. When I was student teaching in a kindergarten…40 some years ago…the teacher had put bricks into water (about half way up the sides) and sprinkled wheat berries on top. The bricks sprouted greens! (Maybe a precursor to chia pets?)