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ACTIVITY: Sprout Your Own Sprouts

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:

NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas:


Plants can grow without soil!


How do plants survive and thrive without soil?

Guiding Questions:

  1. What do people/animals need to grow bigger?

  2. How are plants different than animals?

  3. What are the main things that plants need to grow?


Watch as your sprout seedlings flourish into a nutrious snack in a matter of days!

Fig. 1. It's only a few hours before you begin to see the tails sprout from your seeds!
Image by Emily Sesno


<p>Fig. 2. A deeper dive into a seed reveals hidden parts of the embryo and the stored nutrients that allows it to grow.</p>A seed is a ready-packed suitcase of nutrition. Inside is a dormant embryo that will eventually grow into a plant. The hull is a protective coating to keep it safe. In order to start our sprout germination, we add water to activate it. This opens the hull and allows the embryo to use the nutrients to fuel the plants growth. In addition to water, the seeds need air, or more specifically oxygen, to help the plant grow. 

As the seed grows, the roots will develop and collect nutrients and water. Eventually, the leaves will flourish and can begin collecting sunlight. At this point, the plant has likely used up the nutrients stored in the seed. It will eventually need additional nutrients and energy from the sun through photosynthesis

Sprout Activity Vocabulary

  • Embryo: the part of a seed which develops into a plant, consisting (in the mature embryo of a higher plant) of a plumule, a radicle, and one or two cotyledons.
  • Germination: the process by which an organism grows from a seed or similar structure.
  • Hull: the outer covering of a fruit or seed, especially the pod of peas and beans, or the husk of grain.
  • Photosynthesis: the process by which green plants use sunlight to capture foods from carbon dioxide and water. 


  • Glass Jar
  • Cheese cloth
  • Rubber band
  • Access to water
  • Drying rack
  • Sprout Seeds of choice (A variety of seeds can be ordered through Sprout People)

Note: Seeds will begin sprouting within a day and will continue to sprout for a week or more. They can be eaten as they grow for a nutrient packed snack. The instructions written below are for alfalfa sprouts. Some details may vary depending on the seed. Here some of the more common seeds to sprout. For instructions specific to other seeds, check out Sprout People.

  • <p>Fig. 3. Sprouts grow to different sizes, as seen here with a soybean sprout and mung bean sprout side by side.</p>Pulses (legumes; pea family):
    alfalfa, clover, fenugreek, lentil, pea, chickpea, mung bean and soybean (bean sprouts).
  • Cereals:
    oat, wheat, maize (corn), rice, barley, and rye
  • Pseudocereals:
    quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat
  • Oilseeds:
    sesame, sunflower, almond, hazelnut, hemp, linseed, and peanut.
  • Brassica (cabbage family):
    broccoli, cabbage, watercress, mustard, mizuna, radish, and daikon (kaiware sprouts), rocket (arugula), tatsoi, turnip).


Activate your seeds

  1. Measure out the desired amount of seeds into the jar. (Note: Fig. 1 shows 1/4 cup of alfalfa seeds to start, resulting in over 2 cups of sprouts). 
  2. Add enough water so all seeds are covered. Soak your seeds for reccommended time for given seed variety. Alfalfa sprouts need 6-8 hours.
  3. Cover the jar with the cheese cloth, securing with a rubber band. 
  4. After soaking, drain your seeds thoroughly.
  5. Secure the cheese cloth in place, and leave the jar upside down so water can drain freely.
    Note: sprouts need oxygen, so be sure to find a place (such as a drying rack) that can allow air flow while seeds are growing.

Daily care of your seeds

  1. After about 24 hours, the seeds will be ready for more water. 
  2. Turn the jar upright, and fill with enough water to cover the seeds. Allow seeds to have a "mini-soak" - just 5-10 minute or so before draining. 
  3. Rinse them thoroughly. 
  4. Resecure the cheese cloth and invert the jar on the drying rack to allow for drainage and air flow. 
  5. Reapeat steps 7-9 one or two times a day for the next few days. A mini-soak is not required each time, but is good for the first few rounds of watering.
  6. Sprouts are packed with nutrition and can be consumed as they grow.

Activity Questions

  1. What happened to your seeds as time went on?

  2. What did your seeds need to begin growing?

  3. When did you first notice they were sprouting?

  4. How big were your sprouts at the end of the growing time?


Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.