Plants are everywhere around us! Even though they are living organisms— just like us—they are very different in terms of their needs for survival. What do you think plants need to survive? Over the next week, we will explore how different conditions affect plant growth. We will observe how beans grow in different conditions to decide what plants need to survive.

Note: Please assist your child with this activity if needed. You can decide how much information you want to share with your child based on age, ability, etc. All information written on this newsletter is for grades K-5.

Warning: These beans may mold. We suggest poking holes in the bag to prevent this.

Concepts to explain to your child

The beans will be divided into 3 different bags. Our first bag of beans will grow in normal sunlight and mostly wet cotton balls. Our second bag of beans will grow in no sunlight and mostly wet cotton balls. Our third bag of beans will grow in normal sunlight and very lightly wet cotton balls. Did you notice how these 3 bags are divided by 3 different conditions? We want to see how these conditions will affect the growth of our beans.

Did You Know?

Plants use sunlight and water to make food through the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is when plants use sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to make glucose and oxygen!

Glucose can also be called a sugar or starch. It is brought to every part of a plant!

When you breathe out, you release carbon dioxide! When plants breathe out, they release oxygen!

What chemicals do animals and humans breathe in and out?
Using this knowledge, how are plants important to Earth? What are some ways we use plants?


  • 3 Ziploc bags
  • 15 Lima beans (dehydrated/dried)
  • 2 handfuls of cotton balls
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 Permanent Marker

Making a Home for Our Beans

Bag 1 and 2:

  1. Fill your cup with water.
  2. Dip your cotton balls in water, then squeeze out most of the water.

Bag 3:

  1. Fill your cup with water.
  2. Lightly dip cotton balls in water so that only a little bit of the cotton ball is wet. For example, you can only dip the bottom part of the cotton ball instead of the whole thing!

For ALL Bags:

  1. Place the cotton balls inside the Ziploc bags. Line up the bottom of each Ziploc bag with these cotton balls. Use more cotton balls if needed. Make sure to dip them according to what bag they are in!
  2. Soak your lima beans!
  3. Place 4-5 lima beans into each Ziploc bag.
  4. Seal the Ziploc bag.
  5. Label your bags “Bag 1”, “Bag 2”, and “Bag 3” accordingly.

Giving Your Beans Some Personal Space

Why can’t we fill up the Ziploc bag with all the lima beans?
  • Plants also need space to grow!
  • Sprouts grow outwards. Roots need to reach far away to find water.
In which direction(s) do you think plants grow?
  • Did you know plants also grow outwards?
  • Plants’ roots need to reach far away to find nutrients and water.

Location is Important!

Bag 1 and 3

Put your Ziploc bags next to a window with plenty of sunlight exposure.

Bag 2

Put your Ziploc bag in a cabinet with no sunlight exposure.

Forming an Educated Guess (aka Hypothesis)

Draw what you think your beans will look like 3 days from now. Which bag of beans do you expect to have the most growth? Why?

Observations After 1-2 Weeks…

How did your beans change over time? Note any color change, length change, etc..
Which condition/bag had beans with little to no growth? Why?
What do beans, or any plants, need to grow successfully?


Through our “Growing Beans” experiment, we observed how beans grow and what they need to survive. We placed our beans in three different bags depending on their conditions; some were put in a more wet or drier environment, and some were put in a sunny or dark environment. We learned that beans use water, carbon dioxide, and energy from the sun to make food through photosynthesis! This food is actually glucose, which is a sugary substance. The glucose then travels all around a plant, helping a plant grow properly. Without the sun’s help, our bean plants will wilt and die.

Learn More

Planting and Growing Beans in Our Preschool Window

The Effects of Sunlight on Bean Plants


K-LS1-1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes. Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.