Caring for Seeds

Children notice that the remnants of food that come into the classroom contain seeds. We are particularly curious about the pepper seeds spread through the pile of food scraps and pull these seeds off the scraps creating a seed pile.

“The pepper
seeds are getting
– Emmanuel

Creating a seed bank requires ongoing carefulness and collective action

We delicately remove seeds from scraps.

We place the seeds in trays and intently watch them dry.

But pepper seeds are not the only seeds in the food scraps. Other seeds accompany the scraps : zucchini seeds, tomato seeds.

Even during our meals, we notice that many of the fruits we eat also have seeds. These seeds make it into a growing collection: pear seeds, apple seeds. As the mound of seeds grows, we propose to the children to create a seed bank.

We wash the seeds in the sink using cold water, ensuring that seeds don’t go down the ​sink.

Each seed moves through these preservation rituals, awaiting in a pile to go into small glass jars

“I’m getting the seed ready” – Malik

“Collecting seed means taking seeds of the same type and putting them into the jar” – Malik

Ensuring that the seeds have enough time to fully dry, we leave the lids off the jars for a few days.

As we separate seeds by kind, we remember their uniqueness.

Yet, our curated process is not fully reliable neither effective. We are not in control.

After a few weeks, we notice that a pile of seeds grows “fuzzy things” and releases strong odours.

“It has a web on it” – Cameron
“The white right there, that’s the fuzzies”- Emmanuel
“Too spiked, too prickly”- Heather
“It feels soft”- Roberto

We gather to discuss how the seeds became fuzzy and stinky and wonder what to do with them. “The seeds are stinky and they need to be washed with soap and water to make them smell good again,” offers Stella. Cindy points out, “We can’t use soap”.

We draw the emerging stories of the fuzzy stinky seeds.

Stella’s Story

This is the door that was left all the way open in our school. And then here’s the bee that stings the seed and turns it stinky, and then Stella’s mommy and daddy came and saved the seed.

Cameron’s Story

This is the rocket ship.
The rocket ship just took the seeds and turned them stinky.
This is the duck that is holding the seeds in its feet to bring them back to us.

Louisa’s Story

That’s the seed. That’s my cousin. He took it away to his house. He threw it in the garbage.

Cindy’s Story

The seed was stinky when it was in a marker. They sleep in the marker. Then the bad guy took it in the grass, the seeds in the grass. So that it can grow. This is the grass, and this is the grass too.

Malik’s Story

That’s the bee and this is the door. The bee came through the door. Then the bee eats the seed and turns it stinky.

Seed Pouches

To decrease the stinkies and
the fuzzies, we decide to create
pouches with gifted fabric.

These pouches are to hold our seeds in”
– Emmanuel

“We need to put them in
a bag” – Louisa

Seeds & layers

Sewing seed pouches is a slow and delicate process. It requires attentiveness to match the edges of the fabric, to thread the needle, to puncture the two layers of the fabric and to avoid our fingers.

Cutting, pinning, holding,
pulling, pushing.
“When I was sewing it kept not working. It didn’t work, so I needed to try again.” – Cindy

We discuss how caring for the seeds and sewing pouches for them require the same carefulness. The work requires time and dedication.
“This is hard.” – Georgina
“Sewing is slow.” – Cameron

Sewing is like up and down and up and down.” – Cameron
“Up and down, that means zig zags.” – Cindy
“It was getting tricky.” – Alex

The jackfruit we enjoy for lunch gives way to thinking about the variety of seeds. Emmanuel observes: “There’s a seed in a seed. We have to break them to find it”. Emmanuel removes a seed from the outer layer, noting “It feels like plastic.”

We speculate about the jackfruit’s big seed: the outer layers dry up and cracks appear which leads to the outer layer falling away or peeling off.

We draw the encased seeds:

“First you make a big circle and then
you draw a small circle in it” – Malik

“This is me and big seed” – Georgina

A Broken Seed

Emmanuel pulls four seeds from a pile and sets them aside noting:
“Those are not apple seeds…. I’m not sure what they are, but they are not apple seeds. They are broken”

Other children agree that these strange seeds are broken. We label a jar for the broken seeds.
The rituals of preservation slow down as we become curious about the broken seeds.

We story through drawing, how seeds become broken

Leon’s Broken Seed Story

The seed became
broken over time
They just came
into the class
Georgina’s Prologue:
The dinosaur found the seed in the
compost. He walked to the compost. He walked to the compost because he wanted to eat a seed.
Malik’s Prologue:
The seed was up on top of a house. The
dinosaur climbed up the house, stared at the seed and just ate it.
Malik’s epilogue:
It broke into tiny tiny pieces. It got washed in the bathtub, because we carried them into the bathtub. When the kids were done washing them, they (seeds) went into the drain. The drain is the thing that puts all the water inside the drain. It goes up and then sprays in the sink and the same water goes out the spray. The seeds go with the water and spray out with the water again.

Emmanuel’s Broken Seed Story

A dinosaur used its
horn to poke the seed
and it broke
The seeds dug a hole in the ground
and stayed there. They got into a
car and drove to the class.

Stella’s Broken Seed Story

The dinosaur ate the seeds and then came a mermaid that saved the seeds and planted those seeds. They became magical seeds that turned into broken seeds.
There was the bad dinosaur eyes. We
went for a walk and found the broken seeds that had became food scraps on the trail and then we crossed the sidewalk and picked them.

Nina’s Broken Seed Story

There was a dinosaur that ate the seed.

To think with the story in greater detail, educators invite children to think about the seed before it breaks. We create prologues to our stories.

Emmanuel’s Prologue:
The dinosaur walked and he just found it.
The seed was on the road and the dinosaur found it and poked it and that’s how it got broken.
Nina’s Prologue:
The seed was in a cave. The dinosaur tiptoed, got it {the seed} and put it in his cave.
Edward’s Prologue:
They just found the seeds.

We also think and draw about what happens with the seed after it breaks. We create epilogues to the stories.

Emmanuel’s epilogue:
It is like this now
because it got poked.
Nina’s epilogue:
It cracked into little pieces. The dinosaur chomped it into tiny little pieces.

Georgina’s Broken Seed Story

There was a dinosaur
that ate the seeds.
A dad and baby dinosaur walked
the seeds on this path back to the
classroom and they left the food
scraps here.

Malik’s Broken Seed Story

A dinosaur chomped
the seed and it broke.
The dinosaur did not like the
broken and put it back into the
food scraps.

Edward’s Broken Seed Story

The seed broke. The worms broke it.
We just got them broken.
Leon’s Prologue:
There was a dinosaur and it did nothing to the seed.
Stella’s Prologue:
The dinosaur found the seeds on the sidewalk and decided to eat all the seeds. The mermaid has special powers and planted the seed that turns into a sunflower.
Stella’s epilogue:
The seed is half now. The broken seed turns into a beanstalk. The mermaid planted it. Then it growed into a beanstalk. After it growed, the seed actually became a real seed. Magical powers were around that turned it into a beanstalk, Rapunzal’s magical powers: “A real seed is a seed that we take care of.”
Edward’s epilogue:
This is now a worm

Working with
clay, we reinvent
the seeds stories
from the drawings.

We pay attention to the delicacy of the seeds alongside the delicacy of the clay. Through the process, other seeds emerge.

Crushed Seeds
Cracked Seeds
“A dinosaur used its horn
to poke the seed and it
broke.” – Emmanuel
The seed is half now. The broken
seed turns into a beanstalk.
The dinosaur found the seeds
on the sidewalk and decided
to eat all the seeds.
Bad Seeds
Worm Seeds
“There is also a doctor seed….
Like when people get hurt, the
seeds go to them.” – Emmanuel
“The mermaid that saved the seeds
and planted those seeds.” – Stella
” This is a broken seed. It has a crack in it.“ – Emmanuel
“The worms broke the seed” – Edward


Through this inquiry, children attend to the centrality of seeds in life. Processes of preservation that require caring practices revitalize daily conversations. Yet, for us, these processes of preservation go beyond accumulation and treasure. Children work with the liveliness of seeds and their relations. Rather than conceiving seeds as resources to be preserved for future display and profit making, children pause to speculate through storytelling as they encounter the uncertainties that lively seeds bring to the encounters.

Even if at a micro scale, children engage with the ethos of vulnerability we are never in full control of the world.