Guest Blogger

Steal this Idea: Taking STEM literally

While doing some end-of-the-year shopping on Lakeshore Learning’s website, I found these classroom window greenhouses that are simply perfect for use in my children’s area. I am saving them to use this spring, but I’m very excited to do some programming with them. What better way to take STEM literally than by growing some (pardon my pun) stems at the library?

Because the size of my library’s storytime crowd is too large to do this as a storytime activity, I am planning to create a passive program that families can interact with any time they are in the library.

Right now I have lots of ideas bouncing around, but no concrete plan. Here are some of the ideas I have so far:

  • Grow different types of seeds, and provide pictures for families to try and identify the seed types to encourage research and comparison.
  • Grow multiples of the same type of seed so families can compare growth rate, health, etc.
  • Have a ‘race’ to see which seed sprouts the fastest or grow the tallest during a set amount of time to encourage families to keep coming back.
  • Create charts that label the parts of seeds and the different stages of growth to build scientific vocabulary and encourage critical thinking. What stage is this seed at? What is that part called?
  • Create a puzzle or worksheets to have out with the different parts of a seedling listed
  • Have a ‘contest’ where kids can design their own seeds and the plants that will grow from them–display their work
  • Provide worksheets for families to draw pictures of the seeds, the seedlings, and what they imagine the full-grown plant will look like.
  • Have a display of books about seeds and plants so families can take something home and keep learning.

Outstanding Seed Books:

Seeds by Ken Robbins

A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston & Sylvia Long

Seed Soil Sun: Earth’s Recipe for Food by Cris Peterson, photographs by David R. Lundquist

Pick Pull Snap: Where Once a Flower Bloomed by Lola M. Schaefer, illustrated by Lindsay

And then it’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

What Kinds of Seeds are These? By Heidi Bee Roemer, illustrated by Olena Kassian
  • From Seed to Sunflower (How Things Grow) by Sally Morgan
  • What Kinds of Seeds are These? By Heidi Bee Roemer, illustrated by Olena Kassian
  • One Watermelon Seed by Celia Barker Lottridge and Karen Patkau
  • The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

What else can we do? Share your ideas!


Our guest blogger today is Anna Haase Krueger. Anna is a librarian, blogger, and SLJ picture book reviewer. She has recently joined the stellar group of children’s librarians at Ramsey County Library in MN. She blogs at Future Librarian Superhero and can be found on Twitter as @opinionsbyanna

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at


  1. Lisa

    This idea will be particularly timely next summer, when the CSLP reading theme will be “Dig Into Reading.”

  2. Anna Haase Krueger

    Oops, forgot one of the “Outstanding Seed Books” I meant to recommend–Plant a Little Seed by Bonnie Christensen.

  3. Julie

    You could also put greenhouses up in various parts of your room and have families compare how seeds near a window progress as opposed to ones in a darker corner, if you have one. Thinking about it my own space is pretty well lit so I might need to leave a closet door ajar to find a dark space. Another STEM activity to add would be a tape measure or ruler to take actual measurements. One year a small potted bean plant wasn’t collected by a storytime participant and left to grow on a desk and it got amazingly tall. We kept taping chopsticks together to make a pole for it to climb, it even flowered and produced a couple of very small beans.

  4. Jennifer

    We do a variety of growing crafts throughout the year, but I have three standards I use all the time – planting seeds (we decorate whatever plastic bottles I have left, fill them with dirt, and add seeds – it is important to have a good vacuum for this one). Take home seed bags – a ziplock bag with a few pieces of cotton and some seeds. You tape them to a window, add water, and watch them grow. I have gotten so many kids reporting back to me on their plants’ growth and progress. Also, in the summer, we paint small clay pots and plant seeds. I used to keep them in the library until they sprouted, but the program got too big for me to water and care for them all. I think we had around 80 people last summer.

  5. Andy Woodworth

    As terrifying and cringing as I’m sure this will sound, what about lending out small plants? Find a small but fast growing plant that families can “borrow” and watch grow from a seed to a plant over the course of one to two weeks. It comes with a kid oriented instruction sheet on how to care for it. I would guess that this could be done on the cheap side; offhand, I’d say less than $50 for soil, seed, and pot materials, plus staff time in creating instruction sheet and promotional material. If something happens to the plant (as things usually do), there are allowances for mistakes as well as minimal financial loss. You can give people the option of keeping the plant as well at the end if you are not planning on making a display at the library. It could also dovetail into a future program or be a takeaway craft for a storytime.

  6. K

    You could create “folder games” based on plant anatomy and growth or comparing likenesses and differences of several plants for families to explore. Everything can be kept in the folders next to your growing seeds. Using vibrant pictures will attract the interest of even the youngest library patrons. I often used folder games with my 2 and 3 year olds when I taught preschool. They loved them!

    You can tweak them to include plenty of science, math, and literacy skills. You can focus on color recognition, sequencing, counting, one-on-one correspondence, etc.

    Soooooo much fun to be found inside a folder or two! ;0)

  7. Sue Daniels

    This sounds like a fabulous idea!! Letting the children see the different seeds growing and the different growth rates. Also teaching them the different stages of seed growth and allowing them to try it too. I think children would find this idea to be so much fun and plus they are learning 🙂

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