There is a entry way in my house that is covered in small lines documenting the growth of my children. My kids love going back to it month after month to see how much they’ve grown. It’s important to teach our kids that growth is a part of all living things, not just humans.

Growing seeds in a plastic bag is a fun way for kids to see how seeds grow. Really? Seed germination in a paper towel? The best part of this STEM activity is showing that these seeds don’t need soil or a hole in the ground to grow. Your little gardeners can watch how seeds sprout with a clear view from the plastic bag. There is a lot to learn in this experiment, yet it is so simple to do!

– Life Over C's Watching seeds grow in a bag is a great science lesson for kids. Our seed germination in a bag gives kids the opportunity to see up close how a seed grows.

Recommended Grade Level:

Materials for Germinating Seeds in a Bag:

  • Plastic Zip Top Bag
  • Bean Seeds
  • Paper Towel
  • Tape

Learning About Seeds And Growth:

bean germination experiment


  • What does our seed need to grow?
  • What do you think would happen if we put the bag in a room with no light?
  • How are our bodies similar to the seeds?
  • What do the roots of the plant do?
  • How long does it take for beans to germinate?
  • How fast or slow did your beans grow (germination rate)?

This experiment is a great way to show kids how flowers and some of our fruits and vegetables can grow.

No messy soil or holes need to be dug. No flower pots spilling on the floor. Your kiddos hands will stay clean (relatively anyway) and the growing can take place inside a classroom or even a kitchen.

The seed in a bag activity can be used during a unit on plants or introducing lifecycles.

In addition to learning about growth here are some more ideas for what you can teach about using the germinating seeds in a paper towel experiment:

  • Observing similarities and differences
  • Predicting what might happen
  • Identifying uses of a plant
  • Documenting (drawing or writing) growth

Why Is It Important For Kids To Conduct Experiments?

Besides the fact that kids love exploring, there are so many other reasons you should do experiments with your child.

Observational Skills

Conducting experiments with your kids helps them to become more observant about the world around them. It also encourages higher order thinking and asking questions. Have your child tell you about their germinated bean seed.


Problem-solving is a task that children will use every day. In experiments, students problem-solve by brainstorming and trying different things. Why did my plant not grow? Maybe I added too much water. Let’s try again!

Increases Vocabulary

By observing and taking note of changes, children will build upon their vocabulary to note colors, sizes, shapes, textures and smells. Ask your students to explain how to plant a germinated bean.

Understand the Life Cycle

Starting as seeds and ending with bean plants shows the process the beans in a bag go through. Children can see where some of our food comes from while watching dry beans grow into green beans.

How To Create The Germination Seed Bag

Before starting the experiment, soak your bean seeds overnight in water. This will sort of “wake up” the seeds and get them ready to germinate. You’ll get faster results if you pre-soak your bean seeds this way. Drain the seeds before placing them in the bag.

– Life Over C's Kids will love sprouting their own seeds in a plastic baggie! With just a few materials, kids can watch seeds sprout by germinating seeds in a bag.

Dampen a paper towel and fold it into the bag.

Place the seeds along one side of the bag, pressing them against the paper towel. Seal the bag tightly, and hang in a window using tape.

Make sure the beans are visible on the side of the window where the kids will be observing their seeds sprout.

– Life Over C's Kids will love sprouting their own seeds in a plastic baggie! With just a few materials, kids can watch seeds sprout by germinating seeds in a bag.

Wait 24 hours. You should be able to see the seeds start to pop open and sprout after this time.

Within 3 days to a week, you’ll have fully sprouted seeds! In a few more days, you’ll see the leaves start to emerge.

– Life Over C's Kids will love sprouting their own seeds in a plastic baggie! With just a few materials, kids can watch seeds sprout by germinating seeds in a bag.

At this point, your beans are ready to move to the soil. Plant them in a rainboot garden, or another small planter and watch them continue to grow!

Extend the Activity:

Sequencing Cards

Take pictures of your child’s bean through each stage of growth. Print and laminate the pictures and have your child put them in the correct growth sequence.

Create a Book

Use pictures taken from the beans’ growth to create a book. Let your child decide if the story will be fictional or nonfiction.

Seed Names

Take the remainder of the beans and use them for a name activity. Have your child glue the beans onto each letter of their written name.

Sensory Bin

Use different types of beans and seeds in your sensory bin. You can include shovels, plastic pots, fake flowers and pretend vegetables.

Counting Skills

Work on counting skills with these fun sunflower themed counting mats.

Play a Game

Continue learning about lifecycles and seeds with our free activities with seeds!

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– Life Over C's Watching seeds grow in a bag is a great science lesson for kids. Our seed germination in a bag gives kids the opportunity to see up close how a seed grows.
– Life Over C's Kids will love sprouting their own seeds in a plastic baggie!
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author avatar
Kim Staten Owner and Curriculum Designer
Kim Staten is a mother of four children ages 20, 19, 16, and 12. Kim has taught at the preschool, kindergarten and early elementary levels for 16 years. With extensive experience working with special needs children, including her own children with special needs (Rett Syndrome, autism, anxiety, and ADHD), she creates hands-on curricula and activities that are great for working with children of all abilities in the classroom and at home. Hands-on, accessible activities are her passion. 

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  1. Where can you buy pinto beans for this experiment? Can I just by some at the grocery store like a bag of Goya beans?

    1. I would suggest Googling how to transplant beans to the garden since I am very much not a gardening expert. 🙂

    1. I don’t think that apple seeds would work the same, but you can always test it out. Or do two kinds of seeds and compare the results! Let us know how it goes!

  2. Hi! I’m wondering what type of soil to put them in after they sprout? We did this experiment and they’re sprouting super quick! & should I continue to leave them in the window? 🙂

    1. I honestly have never tried to plant them after this experiment. You could try putting them in a pot and see what happens!

  3. Yes, pinto beans. Kidney bean did not sprout at all, lima bean maybe will sprout, but pinto bean ready to plant (I think).

  4. Doing this experiment during remote learning with my 4th grade students. Some are reporting ‘smelly beans’. Is this normal? Honestly, sometimes life is smelly!

    1. I’m imagining that they are opening their ziploc bag…lol! We have had our newest attempt at this experiment hanging from our dishwasher for a month and I can’t smell anything, but the original seeds look mushy in the bag, so they probably would smell if we opened the bag.

    1. The towel should stay damp inside your bag. We’ve been doing it again and have had the towel in the bag for 7 days and I can visible see water droplets from across the room. 🙂

  5. Just curious, because I’m sure my child will want to keep his beans alive, does anyone know how to properly transfer these to soil after?

    1. In this activity we have only grown the beans in the bag and thrown them away afterward. You could try to separate them and continue to grow them in small pots. In which case, you would want to bury the bean and roots and let the sprout stay above the dirt. Let us know how it goes!

  6. What about pepper seeds? We put those in a bag with a wet paper towel seven days ago with no luck.

      1. My son’s class used mason jars instead of baggies, but his pepper seeds have successfully sprouted. It probably took close to a week before we saw activity. We are hoping to transfer them to soil and see if they survive Mommy’s black thumb. 😉

    1. The peppers may take longer to grow. We planted some strawberry seeds on Earth Day and it just started to grow.

  7. Also, I only put 3 or 4 dried beans in the bag. (Too many make it complicated to follow each root, etc.) Most pinto beans will germinate, and you do NOT need to soak them over night! They will germinate in 2 to 3 days. Be sure to warn your children not to press or squish the soft beans (seeds), because they will become very fragile as they start to germinate and sprout. This is one of my all-time favorite activities! We all get super excited to see the “magic” of life!!

    1. I have not tried it, but any fresh beans should work. I cannot vouch for the quality of the experiment with dried beans.