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New York Botanical Garden


K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th



Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Worksheets
  • Articles and Websites
  • Videos, 1 minute, 19 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, New York, New York City



School Gardening Part 3: Seed Starting

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  • This section of School Gardening 101 provides information, lessons, and activities for students and teachers about selecting and starting seeds for their gardens.
  • In the lesson plans, students will explore seed catalogs to learn more about plant characteristics, compare similarities and differences of some seeds, and germinate seeds using a ziplock bag.
  • The resource includes an introductory video, lesson plans, tip sheets, and teacher exercises and resources.
Teaching Tips


  • Students will love seeing their seeds germinate and tracking their growth over time.
  • The lesson plans foster important scientific skills like observing, classifying, and collecting data.
  • The teacher documents provide critical information for teachers to select seeds and plan for the necessary amount and spacing.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This is the third part of a six-part series called School Gardening 101 by the New York Botanical Garden. The first part is an introduction and the second part is about soil.
  • Teachers can request free seed catalogs online. Alternatively, teachers can use online seed farm websites.
  • Teachers will need to provide a variety of seeds, ziplock bags, magnifying glasses, paper towels, and staplers for the Seed Stew lesson plan.
  • For the best chance of success, teachers should follow the suggestions and instructions in the tip sheets and teacher exercises.
  • Some of the tip sheets contain broken links.


  • The Seed Catalogue Search lesson plan is for Grades 3-5 but teachers can modify it for younger grades by completing it as a class with teachers reading the text out loud to support student understanding.
  • Teachers can modify these lessons for middle school grade levels by incorporating more scientific vocabulary and instruction about plant structures and photosynthesis.
  • The Top 20 School Garden Planting Combinations tip sheet has ideas for connecting the school garden projects to social studies, math, and other science topics. For example, a social studies class could create a global garden with plants from around the world, or a math class could use geometry to plan and construct plant beds.
  • Build connections between this resource and climate change by discussing sustainable gardening practices and the harmful environmental impacts of large-scale food production.
Scientist Notes
While the YouTube video in this resource is older than our usual requirement, the information in it and the attached PDFs all contain information that is still accurate and helpful for starting a school garden. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
      • 5-LS1-1. Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • 2-LS2-1. Plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plants need sunlight and water to grow.
  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • RI.TS.3.4 Utilize and reference features of a text when writing or speaking about a text, using text features (e.g., graphics, images, captions, headings) and search tools (e.g., key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) to locate and integrate information relevant to a given topic efficiently.
      • RI.MF.4.6 Use evidence to show how graphics and visuals (e.g., illustrations, charts, graphs, diagrams, timelines, animations) support central ideas.
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