Fall is a season of harvest, a time in which we reap the rewards of the seeds we’ve sown. There are lots of animals that gather food and seeds before they hunker down for the winter. But we can teach our ESL students that we can give those seeds another, more fun use.
Here are some great ESL activities with seeds and beans you can enjoy with your class in the fall – or any time of year.
How to Use Seeds and Beans in Your ESL Classroom
Wet Paper Towel or Soil?
Every student has at some point participated in a germination project, but here’s one with a twist. Students will observe seeds or beans germinating in both wet paper towels and soil, and compare which is better – a great way to practice comparatives.
Prepare 2-4 plastic cups with soil and line another 2-4 with paper towels. Use a pencil to push the seeds or beans into the soil but up against the plastic so they’re visible. Place some other seeds in the other cups between the plastic and the paper towels. Allow students to water the cups – make sure they don’t overdo it! Keep all cups in the same place, preferably a dark, warm corner of the classroom, and use distilled water for better results.
Help them create a log where they will record the germination process, then, make their comparisons. Which method seems better? Which seeds germinated the fastest? Which plants grew tallest? Number the cups for more specific comparisons: Plant number 2 germinated faster than plant number 3.
In the months up ahead your ESL class may be a little deprived of sunshine. So why not bring some into your class with these very bright sunflowers! Give each of your students a piece of paper and plenty of sunflower seeds for the flower’s center. They finish up their flower with bright yellow petals and put them up on a wall or bulletin board for a field of sunflowers that will warm their hearts through the winter.
Seeds and beans are excellent for making musical instruments. Here are several ways in which you can make maracas with your ESL class (and recycle materials!):
- Put two tablespoons of seeds, beans or rice into plastic water bottles, then cap. Students paint the outside of the bottle and decorate with strips of colored paper.
- Put two tablespoons of seeds, beans or rice into a plastic cup. Place another cup over the first and seal with electrical tape or masking tape. Students decorate their maracas and grab them by the middle to shake.
- Use any type of lidded container, like yogurt or cream cheese. Make a slit in the lid just big enough for you to push a craft stick through. Put your seeds or beans inside the container and seal shut with electrical tape. You can also secure the stick in place with some tape.
Bean Bag Buddies
Every ESL class needs bean bags, right? How about if you make some with your class? This will require some previous work from you at home. Take two five-inch squares of fabric and sow them together all around, making sure you leave an opening for turning them and filling them. Make as many as you can/like, but the more, the better for your class. Help your students fill the bags with seeds or beans, and sew them closed. Your students will be responsible for adding the finishing touches with button eyes, mouth and nose, and yarn for hair.
And what would an ESL classroom be without balls? You can also make some with seeds! You’ll need at least three balloons for each ball, and preferably a funnel, but if you don’t have one, a rolled up piece of paper will do.
Blow up one balloon and keep it inflated for 60 seconds – this will stretch it out a bit. Place the funnel or rolled up piece of paper deep inside the balloon. Fill with birdseed or lentils. Cut off the top of the balloon. Cut off the tops of two more balloons. Stretch one over the balloon that has been filled so that it covers it completely but especially the hole. Stretch the third balloon over the second. Now you’ll have balls for juggling, throwing, tossing or even de-stressing – these make great stress balls students can squeeze if they need a time out!
Seeds you may want to use include birdseed, sunflower seeds or any that you can buy in bulk for a low price. Great beans to use are lentils, split peas, popcorn kernels and even larger beans like kidney beans or white beans.
Have any other ideas germinated in that ESL teacher’s head of yours? Don’t be bashful and share them below!
And don’t forget that here at BusyTeacher.org we have an abundance of fall worksheets and a thriving ESL Essentials section for you to consult. You will be rewarded with the fruits of you labor…happy, smiling ESL students!