Classroom Gardening - A How-To Using Milk Cartons

I’ve always found it a fun and lovely spring activity to grow grass and beans in my classroom. It's very easy, inexpensive, and introduces the children to the wonders and science of growing plants.

You’ll need:

  • grass seed

  • beans (I just buy a bag of mixed dried beans at the grocery store)

  • flax seed

  • wild flower seeds

  • and other seed you would like to try.

  • milk cartons

  • egg cartons

  • plastic (rinsed out) containers like cream cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese etc.

  • potting soil

Prep the milk cartons by cutting the top off of them and poking a few holes in the bottom for water drainage. You need drainage holes for any type of container you decide to use. (You can prep in front of older children explaining why you are putting holes into the containers).

First we introduce the activity.

I usually read some books about plants and seeds before we plant. Here are some books I have used:
A Seed Is a Promise, 1973 Scholastic 1st Edition 
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children 
Growing Vegetable Soup 
Jack's Garden 
Watch Me Plant a Garden (Welcome Books: Making Things) 

I put soil into a large tub and set up seeds and beans and containers close by. I will explain to the children that we will be planting seeds and show them how to fill their containers with soil and then with seed. We finish up by watering our newly planted containers. 

I display their containers in our science corner where we can keep an eye on their growth with magnifying glasses and even document how tall they grow with rulers. Depending on the age of your children you can add more activities surrounding plants or make it a simple introduction to planting.

If you want to do more gardening with your children check out these websites for inspiration:


Samantha Marshall, M.A.

Samantha is, just like you, excited to make a difference in our community and our world. With a Master of Arts degree in English Literature, you might ask how she found herself building and writing for a website focused on child care. From 1995 through 2001, Samantha started her career working for Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) sponsors which introduced her to the importance of non-profits, community and quality child care. Her experience with Sponsors, State Officials, and Family Child Care Providers left a great and lasting impression. Later in her career and her most recent position at SAGE Publications, an academic publisher, was as a product manager for a new online resource! During this time many of Samantha's passions collided. A love for the written word, children and the proliferation of knowledge as well as a fascination with the resources the internet gives us, building a community for child care on is the perfect way to make the difference she wanted to. Needless to say, she is very excited to be an active part of creating and building