Activity 1: Growth comparison

Do the growing processes of all plants look the same?

Compare the process of germination of the plants that were planted during Day Seven with the process of germination of a bean plant (which is much faster). This is a visual way to show the students that germination processes from different plants look different, as well as show them how the roots branch out from a seed.

All ages – This activity takes several classes to complete


  • Transparent containers (plastic glass, cups, or jars. One per group, pair or student.
  • Cotton balls
  • Grains: can be butter beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, or lentils

Step 1: Divide the class in small groups or pairs, depending on how many containers you have. Give each group a pot, enough cotton balls to fill it, and 2 beans.

Step 2: Have the students put the cotton in the pot and water it until it is damp. Tell them to put one bean on each side of the inside of the glass and leave it by the window of the classroom.

Step 3: Give a piece of paper to each student and tell them to fold it so they have 6 or 8 squares. This will be their “Bean timeline”. In the first square, they should write “Day 1” and make a drawing of what their little unsprouted plant looks like.

Step 4: Each group will be responsible for their own plant and should make sure that the cotton is always damp. Students should make a new drawing every third or fourth day.

Step 5: Once they have completed their bean timeline (the plants should be a few inches tall and have leaves and widespread roots by now), go to the garden and look at the lettuce plants that were planted in Day Seven. Ask the students to point out the differences they see between the germination process of the bean and of the lettuce.

Step 6: Back in the classroom, have them mark the differences between the two processes on their drawings

Scaffolding: Instead of separating the class into groups, do steps 1 and 2 yourself in front of the class and pass around the pot for students to look at.

Enrichment: Have each group or student use a different kind of grain (chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, black beans). In step 5, tell the students to not only think about the differences between their own plant and the lettuce plant, but also with their classmates’ plants.

Helpful links:

How to grow beans on cotton balls


Activity 2: Plant Plate and Person Plate

Do we need the same things plants need to be healthy?

A comparison of what plants need to grow healthy and what we need to grow healthy. Drawing from lessons from Day Five (nutrition and the importance of having all the colors in our diet), and from Day Seven (planting day), this activity shows children that just as we need different things to survive, so do plants, and gives them a visual representation of this.


  • One sheet of paper per student
  • Coloring pencils or crayons

Step 1: Following Day seven, ask your students “what do plants need to survive?”. Write down the question on the board and all the correct answers as a list. They must include; water, sunlight, soil, and compost.

Step 2: Next, ask the students “what do we need to survive?” and write down the answers as a list on the board. They can include water, air (oxygen), shelter (a house/roof), warmth (or heating), clothes, family/friends/other people, and food, among other answers. When a student mentions food, ask him or her to elaborate and list the different types of foods we need: proteins, fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, carbohydrates, fats.

Step 3: Give each student a sheet of paper and have them draw two big circles. Each of them will represent a plate, one for a plant, and one for the student. Tell them to draw in each of them the different things that people and plants need to consume or have.

Scaffolding: In step 2, instead of having them list the type of foods, use the concept of the rainbow of colors that we talked about during Day five.

Enrichment: Make the distinction between basic human needs (the ones outlined in step 2) and secondary needs. These include safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and self-realization, and cognitive needs, which are nonessential for survival but are important for having a good life. They differentiate us from other organisms. Talk to the students about the importance of the secondary needs in our lives.

Useful links:

Information about basic human needs and secondary needs


Activity 3: Chanting to Leave it Better

Can you come up with a chant to remember how to compost and recycle, like we did in class to remember how to plant?

On Day Seven, we taught kids a chant to help them remember the steps for plating. In this activity, students come up with a chant by themselves to remember the steps for recycling and composting.


  • Three or four poster boards
  • Coloring pencils or crayons

Step 1: Review the chant they learned on Day Seven (it is posted on the Leave it Better website in case you need some help remembering). Each verse talks about a different step for planting; adding the soil and the compost, moistening it with water, putting the seeds in, covering the seeds with soil, and watering it.

Step 2: Divide the class in 3 or 4 groups and give each a poster board. They must come up with similar chants about composting or recycling, or other actions that have several steps that help us leave the world better, write it on the board.

Step 3: Have each group present in front of the class.

Scaffolding: For step 2, instead of having them write the chant, tell the students to draw each of the steps to remember them while they chant. They might also find it helpful to include some movement to their songs, for example gesturing that they’re watering the soil as opposed to just saying it.

Enrichment: Ask the students to give the song a more complex structure. It must have verses and a chorus, where the most important parts of the process are described.

Helpful links:

Here’s an overlook of the recycling process

Watch the Vermicomposting video to remember the steps of composting

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