I love projects that are cheap, easy and have a high impact. Junior Master Gardener has a great activity that allows youth (of ALL ages) to observe seeds germinate in a really fun way.
First: Use a nylon stocking and fill it with a tablespoon or two of rye grass seed. They quick lawn fix mixes at your nursery retail center usually contain a high percentage (upwards of 90%) of rye grass seed. Rye grass seed germinates easily and quickly.
Secondly: Add some peat-based potting soil to make the plant person's head. Push the soil to the toe of the stocking and form a ball. Tie a knot at the base of the soil.
Thirdly: Glue googly eyes onto the face (hot glue works really well, but Elmer's will do in a pinch). Take a permanent market to draw a smile. You can also channel your inner crafty diva or dude. JMG recommends taking a pop can (soda can for the rest of you) and glamming it up with construction paper, pipe cleaners, glitter (of course!) to make your plant person.
Finally: Dunk your plant person into a bowl of water to saturate the soil (just in the beginning) and initiate the germination process. Tuck the nylon stocking tail into some kind of water reservoir (cup, mug, jar, pop can) to continuously wick moisture into the soil. I often spray a mist of water on the top of the head every day as well.
You should see sprouts in about 3-4 days and a full 'crop' of 'hair' in just a week!
The Plant Person activity hails from the Level One Teacher/Leader Guide from the Junior Master Gardener 4-H program. The book brims with similarly engaging lessons that teach a multitude of concepts from plant growth and development to insects and ecology. It is easy to start a JMG club, simply call your county Cooperative Extension office and talk to your 4-H or Horticulture/Agriculture Agent. To find out more about the program you can visit our North Carolina website or visit the national JMG website.