National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix


Gardening or Farming in a Glove

Grade Level(s)

K - 2

Estimated Time

60 minutes


Students investigate and observe how a seed sprouts and the conditions necessary for this germination process to happen by planting 5 seeds in the fingers of a clear plastic glove.


  • Clear plastic gloves
  • Permanent markers
  • Five different types of seeds such as alfalfa, radish, soybean, lettuce, squash, cucumber
  • Cotton balls
  • Small paper plates
  • Minnesota AgMag Vol 24, Issue 1, page 7


germination: process of a seed sprouting and growing into a plant

Background Agricultural Connections

Seeds are vital to our survival! Without seeds, the plants that provide our food, fuel, fiber, oxygen and many other essential products would not exist. Seeds are the method by which plants reproduce. Each seed has an embryo, also known as a baby plant, with the potential to grow into an entire plant. In order for the seed to germinate, or sprout, the seed needs warmth, moisture and oxygen. Seeds will not germinate until they have the proper environment. For example, in the winter the soil temperature may dip to below 32F, so the seed will not sprout. Once the ground thaws in the spring and the temperature rises to approximately 65F, most seeds will sprout if moisture and oxygen are also available. Most seeds germinate when the temperature is between 65-85F. Moisture softens the seed’s protective outer covering, called the seed coat. The embryo pushes through the softened seed coat and the plant begins to grow. As the seed continues to grow, a root will push into the soil for water and a stem will push up toward the surface for light. This sprouting, or germination process, is somewhat mysterious because a majority of the time it occurs underground where we cannot observe the action. The clear plastic gloves and cotton balls used in this activity provide an opportunity to get a good view of the germination process and the plant’s beginning growth and root system.

Seeds and the germination process offer a wide variety of opportunities for scientific investigations and experiments. Some seeds are naturally fast germinators (lettuce, peas, beans) while other seeds are known as slow sprouters (carrots, parsnips). Working with moisture, amount of light, and growing media as variables, students can design experiments to discover the optimal conditions for fast seed germination.  

Interest Approach – Engagement

  1. Display a variety of plants that we eat using either pictures or the actual food. Examples include lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, pumpkins, peas, beans, cucumbers, basil and other herbs, etc.
  2. Ask students to identify what they see; guide them to recognizing that these are all parts of plants. These plant parts are also food!


  1. Ask students:
    • "If you wanted to eat one or more of these items at your home, where would you go to get it?" (grocery store, farmers market, garden)
    • "Let’s imagine that you want to grow one of these items in a garden. How would you start this growing process?" (plant a seed)
  2. Explain to the students that many people have their own personal gardens; however farmers all over the United States and the world grow a very large amount of food to feed the people on earth.
  3. Ask Students:
    • "What do farmers need to provide in order to get the seeds to grow into the plants that provide animals and humans food?" (Water – from rain or irrigation; Air – plants need to breathe in order to grow; Light – the bright summer sun provides solar energy for the plant; Soil – once the plant is growing it needs nutrients (minerals, vitamins from the soil)
    • "What kinds of resources are needed to get the seed to grow and provide food?" (Natural resources – water, sun, soil; Capital resources – tractors, planters, irrigation methods, harvesters (combines) etc.; Human resources – farmers, plant scientists)
  4. Tell students that they are going to provide a variety of food plant seeds with everything they need to sprout. The scientific name for sprouting is germination.
  5. Ask students:
    • "What do you need to give the seeds so they will germinate?" (Water, air, light; Soil is not necessary to get the seed to germinate but once the seed gets past germination and starts to grow it will need nutrients from the soil.)
  6. Demonstrate the process of making a garden in a glove:
    1. Write your name on the palm section of a clear plastic glove with a permanent marker. Also label each finger with a different type of seed (see Materials List for seed suggestions).
    2. Dip five cotton balls in water. Give each cotton ball 3 flat squeezes to wring out excess water.
    3. Place 3-5 seeds on a small paper plate or paper towel and pick up the seeds with a moistened cotton ball.
    4. Put the cotton ball with the seeds attached into the matching labeled finger in your glove.
      • Teacher Tip: You may need to use a pencil to get the cotton ball all the way to the tips of the glove fingers. For large seeds like pumpkins, use only two seeds.
    5. Repeat the seed pick-up and depositing in the glove with the additional cotton balls and seeds.
    6. Tape the glove to a window, chalkboard, or wall. A clothesline can also be used with clothespins holding the gloves on the line.
  7. Assist students in creating their Garden in a Glove.
  8. Read the article “Our Bountiful Land: The Story of Food” found on page 7 in the Agriculture is Everywhere! AgMag.
  9. Depending on what seeds are used, germination will take place in 3-5 days. The cotton balls should stay moist through germination. If one or more appear dry you can add a little water with an eyedropper of spray bottle.
  10. Germinated seeds can be transplanted in 1-2 weeks. Cut the bottom off each finger and pull out the germinated seeds (cotton ball and all), and transplant into a container with soil.

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation

After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:

  • Many plants provide the fruits, vegetables, and grains that we eat.
  • Most plants begin their life as a seed.
  • Seeds germinate or begin to grow when they are watered and kept in a warm place to grow.

Essential Links

Enriching Activities

  • Have students record predictions about what they think will happen with their Garden in a Glove. Record (with drawings and written descriptions) what occurs with their seeds in a daily journal to see if their predictions come true.

  • Have students design a scientific experiment with the germinating conditions. Students can compare environmental factors such as light, temperature, squeezing the cotton ball once versus three times, two seeds versus one, etc.

  • Have students calculate the percent of germination. Once the germinated seeds are transplanted to soil, take daily measurements and create a class graph of plant growth.

  • Have students discuss and draw the life cycle of plants from seeds to a mature plant that could give us food.

  • Prepare a salad or other nutritious snack using products from the grown plants.

Suggested Companion Resources

Agricultural Literacy Outcomes

Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy

  • Explain how farmers work with the lifecycle of plants and animals (planting/breeding) to harvest a crop (T2.K-2.a)

Education Content Standards


1-ESS1: Earth's Place in the Universe

  • 1-ESS1-2
    Make observations at different times of the year to relate the amount of daylight to the time of year.

1-LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

  • 1-LS1-1
    Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.

Common Core Connections

Reading: Anchor Standards

    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.


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