Go to top of page

Growing bulbs for spring

-
Science

Duration/age

Duration: 
Suitable for children: 
Location: 
Skills this activity improves: 
Bulb in a glass

To watch a bulb grow, roots and all, it is best to grow it in a jar, instead of outside in the garden.

Choose which bulbs you want to grow. When you choose the bulb, talk about it with your child, looking together at the pictures on the packet.

Let’s look at these bulbs on the stand. Which one should we choose? This is a hyacinth and has blue flowers. This one is a daffodil. It has a yellow flower. Should we grow more than one kind?

When you get them home put them in the vegetable drawer of your fridge for a few weeks.

This tricks the bulbs into thinking it is winter and very cold. Can you feel the cold air from the fridge?

After a few weeks have gone by, choose a jar wide enough to hold the bulb and fill it about three quarters full with marbles or small rocks. Balance the bulb on top.

Put the bulb on the top. We need to make sure the shoot side is up and the root side is down.

Gently pour in some water until the bottom of the bulb is just covered. Put the bulb in a sunny place, like a window, and watch it grow.

How long do you think the roots will grow?

Materials you will need

  • Water
  • Bulbs
  • Jar
  • Small rocks or marbles

Alternative tools

  • Vase
  • Glass beads

Why does this matter?

When your child is looking for changes in the bulb they are learning to notice differences. This allows your child to develop observation skills. Observation skills could also include the scent, taste or sound of things.

Talking about the bulb as it grows will help your child to learn new words that relate to measurement.

What does this lead to?

Observation helps children to notice small differences, which is essential when they are learning to read, and to tell the difference between b and d, for example.

Understanding measurement - how long the roots are or how tall the shoot is – means that your child is learning about the many attributes we use to measure things. These include height, width, length and time. 

Language to use

  • Bulb, flower, plant
  • Cool, cold
  • Winter, spring
  • Rock, pebble
  • Pour, water
  • Balance
  • Root, shoot, leaf, flower
  • Grow, long, longer, tall, taller
  • Hyacinth, daffodil, jonquil

Useful tips

  1. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

  1. Plant a variety of bulbs in your jars and see if they grow differently.
  2. Cut the top off a two litre plastic bottle. Half fill it with pebbles or marbles. Use a texta to mark the top of the pebbles. Use a ruler to make a set of marks a centimetre apart, going up from the pebbles - to measure the growth of the shoot. Make another set going down to measure the length of the roots. Pop your bulb in and have a look each day to see if there is a change.

Variation by age

Three to five year olds

  • Work together with your child and plant some bulbs in pots or in the garden

Questions to ask

  • How deep do we need to plant the bulb?
  • Is this the top or the bottom of the bulb?
  • Will these grow slower or faster than the ones we planted inside?

Language to use

  • Trowel, spade, dig
  • Soil, hole, plant
  • Growing, dying
  • Shoot, leaf, flower