Sock Seeds
Materials Needed
an old sock
a shoebox
garbage bag or plastic wrap
potting soil
The best time to do this project is on a sunny day in late summer or early fall.  First, find an old, fuzzy, worn-out sock that will fit over your shoe.  Then, wander around outside. You can do this in the city or in the country. You could go to the woods, or a nearby lot that's full of weeds. Walk back and forth through an area where plants are growing.  Take the sock off and examine the kinds of seeds that are stuck to the sock.  Now, to plant your sock. Line a shoebox with a garbage bag or plastic wrap.  Fill the shoebox with potting soil.  Cut a slit down the side of your sock.  Then flatten your sock and plant it with the seeds pointing up. Cover it with a thin layer of soil and then water it.  In a week or so, the seeds should begin to sprout.  This is really fun to do with your friends in different environments because you get something different every time.

idea courtesy of
ZOOM at PBS Kids

Coloring Flowers
Materials Needed
white flowers, like white carnations or Queen Anne's Lace
food coloring
a plastic container
You know that plants need water to grow, make seeds, and stay healthy. Here is a great  way to see how all the parts of the plant get water. Fill a plastic container with water and add a few drops of food coloring. Cut a small piece of the stem off of the flower. Put the flower in the container of food coloring and water. Check every few hours to see how the petals are changing color. The only way the petals can change color is if the food coloring travels up the stem and goes to the petals. After about one day, the petals of the flower will turn from white to the color of the food coloring. Here's how this works. The leaves and petals of plants have lots of small holes called stomates. They're too small to see. Water evaporates through these holes. This is called transpiration. After the water evaporates, the plant needs more water to grow. If the flower is planted in soil, the roots of the plant get the water from the soil and then the water travels up through its stem. But, if the flower is in a container of water, it doesn't have any roots so it just sucks up the water through its stem. So, now when you see a flower that's an unnatural color, like a bright green carnation on St. Patrick's Day, you'll know how it was made. You can also dye a flower two different colors by splitting the stem in half and putting it in two different containers of colored water .

idea courtesy of ZOOM at PBS Kids

A-Mazing Plants
This activity was designed to accompany the Magic School Bus video, "Gets Planted."  You can probably find Magic School Bus videos at your local library.
Materials Needed

sunny window
copies of A-Mazing Plants Activity sheet
lima bean seeds (2 per girl)
Plastic cup (punch hole in bottom)
Lidded box
Cardboard for dividers

Inside a plant, The Magic School Bus kids discover that plant food is made from air, water, and sunlight. Your girls  discover that plants will go to great lengths to find light - even thread a maze. To speed sprouting, soak seeds in water overnight. Help girls plant seeds at a depth about twice the length of the seed. Water well. (If both seeds sprout, pinch one out.)  Build the maze shown on the activity page. Use cardboard for the dividers. Cut a hole at the top end of the box. Discuss experiment controls. Ask: What should we do to compare how plants grow in a maze with how plants grow outside a maze? (Grow control plant outside maze.) Plant and water seeds for the control. Put the mazes and control plant in a sunny window. Open the mazes only briefly every few days to observe and water.

idea courtesy of Scholastic's Magic School Bus

Adopt a Tree
Adopt a tree on or near your meeting place.  Record today's date, describe how your tree appears today.  Look at some of the characteristics of your tree.
Bark texture and color
Leaf shape and color
Tree size and shape
How tall is your tree?
What is the tree's diameter?
Is this a young tree or an old tree? Explain your answer.
Does your tree have flowers, seeds, or fruit?

Can you identify this tree? Find the common name and the scientific name.

Using a tree identification guide, identify your tree.

What makes your tree different from other plants? Record the student's answers, use student responses to develop a poster or bulletin board.

Trees are woody. Trees have a trunk that is made up of strong hard cells that are surrounded by bark.
Trees have one main trunk (or stem) in comparison with shrubs which may have many stems.
Trees are usually more than 20 feet tall when they are full grown. Trees are the largest plants on earth.
Trees live for a long time. Trees live from 25-5,000 years.

Plan to visit your tree 2 - 3 times throughout the year (preferably in different seasons).
Make similar observations as noted in #2. Compare differences in the tree at different times of the year.

Identify parts of your tree and their basic functions. Start at the top and work your way down.  Leaves are the food factories for the tree. Trees make their own food, unlike animals which have to find food. Plants manufacture their own food using sunlight, water and chlorophyll.

Branches spread the leaves out to allow more sunlight to reach the leaves. The leaves need to absorb the sun's rays in order for photosynthesis to occur.

The tree's Trunk holds the tree up and holds the leaves up to the sunlight. The trunk contains a system through which food and water are transported throughout the tree.

Bark makes a strong covering which protects the tree like tough scales or fur on animals.

Roots hold the tree in place and prevent erosion of soil. Roots absorb water, oxygen and dissolved minerals from the soil.

How do trees grow?
Trees grow at the tips of branches and at the tip of the roots.
Look at the end of a branch on your tree, do you see the past season's growth? Can students find roots extending away from the tree?

Trees also grow bigger around. Looking at a tree "cookie" (cross section) count the rings. Ask students how old they think their tree is. How did they come to their answer?

Measure the diameter of your tree. Record your measurement for future classes to compare.

Trees are important to people and to our environment. Ask girls to list some benefits of trees. Girls can find examples of tree products or make collages of magazine pictures showing tree products.

produce oxygen
clean our air
protect shorelines from erosion
absorb heat and provide shade
provide habitats for animals

Some things we can make from Trees:
food (seeds and fruit)
chewing gum

Take a closer look:
Sitting under your adopted tree allow girls to draw pictures of the tree. Look for things like leaf shape, different colors, bark pattern and fruits or flowers. Do animals live in or around the tree, are other plants living on the tree?

As you observe your tree, have girls write down 10-15 adjectives to describe it. When you get back to your meeting place have the troop write a paragraph, a poem or a short story about your tree.

idea courtesy of






Field Trips