From Seed to Seed:
Plant Science for K-8 Educators


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Activity 2: Seeds...Alive or Dead?

Grades: K-8

Associated Lesson Topics:

  • Seed characteristics
  • Seed-forming plants
  • Seeds and fruit
  • Seeds as food
  • Contents of endosperm
  • Leguminosae (Pea) family, of which beans are members

National Standards:

Planting the Seed...

Do you think that seeds are alive or dead? What do you think a seed is made of? Can you tell me what a seed does? Do all plants have seeds? Are all seeds the same size and shape? Have you ever eaten any seeds? What do you think it is about seeds that makes them so good for us to eat?

Teacher Information:

Seeds are amazing, living members of the plant world. They contain all of the necessary information and resources to begin a new life. By completing this activity, students will learn that a seed contains a baby plant as well as the food supply that will help that baby plant grow. Exploring the components of the seed first and then completing Activity 5 (Peanuts-R-Us) encourages students to understand how the different parts within the seed grow to become a plant. Remember that some students may be allergic to peanuts.

Necessary Materials:

  • Dried lima beans. Raw peanuts will also work.
  • Metal butter knife.
  • Magnifying glass.


  • If you are using lima beans, soak them overnight.
  • Have students cut the lima beans or peanuts in half and observe the different parts of the seed using a magnifying glass. Here's what the students will see when the seed is opened...

Epicotyl = the shoot (stems and leaves) of the embryonic plant

Radicle = embryonic root

Hypocotyl = connection between cotyledon and radicle

Cotyledon = seed leaf

Seed coat = protective covering

Harvesting the crop...

People eat seeds not only because they taste good, but also because of their nutritional value. Endosperm-the first source of food for the plant-is high in protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins. Students can research the dependence that humans have on seeds. How many different seeds do we eat? How have humans relied on seeds historically? How do other cultures use seeds in their diets?


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