Help Build Science Skills: Root View Planter

This simple root planter affords children the gratification of watching something grow. Talk to them about the elements that all living thing need to grow such as water, food and light. As the roots begin to develop, examine the different stages of growth or have the child keep sketches in a notebook.

What this activity will develop:
Science skills

What you'll need:
• Half-gallon milk carton
• Utility knife
• Plexiglas
• Potting soil
• Seeds of three different plants
• Spray water bottle

Setting up:
Cut one side from the milk carton. (Save this piece to use in step 5.) The cutout area will be the top of the planter.

Cut a flap on one side of the carton.

Measure the carton diagonally, and mark the Plexiglas to the size needed. Use a utility knife to score the lines marked. Place the Plexiglas on a table edge and apply pressure along the scored lines to break the Plexiglas.

Fit the Plexiglas into the carton diagonally. (The Plexiglas is slanted so that the roots, which grow straight down, will be visible.)

Cut two triangular dividers to fit inside the planter

Fill the three sections with soil.

What to do:
Plant a different type of seed in each section, near the Plexiglas. Spray the soil with water until it is damp. Tape the window flap shut. (Remember that roots grow in darkness.)

Every few days, briefly open the window to see what's going on inside the planter. Check to see if the seeds have sprouted, and take note of when the roots appear and how the roots of the three types of plants differ. Keep the soil slightly damp as the plants develop.

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