My Seed Bank

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Grade Levels: 2-4


  • Paper towel for each student
  • Sealable plastic bag (sandwich size) for each student
  • Five seeds (select seeds with a shorter germination time, such as wheat), for each student
  • My Seed Bank worksheet for each student (pdf attached below)
  • Crayons
  • Stapler
  • Water


1. Give each student a paper towel, five seeds, sealable plastic bag, and the My Seed Bank worksheet.

2. Ask the students to describe the purpose of a vault or safe. What kinds of things belong in a vault or a safe?

3. Explain to the students the importance of keeping seeds safe. Ask them to brainstorm ways that seeds could be saved. Draw some comparisons to how seeds were kept by early settlers or pioneers. Seeds were kept dry, cool, and away from rodents and other insects that may try to eat them.

4. Relate to the students that just as food does not come from the grocery store, seeds also, do not come directly from a store in a package. There are many people involved in developing, packaging, and growing plants specifically for seed harvest. Scientists also help develop varieties that are resistant to diseases and insects. They rely on seeds that are preserved in seed banks to help them find better ways for these plants to survive.

5. Have the students place their seeds in the sealable plastic bag. Place the bags of seeds in the freezer for one week with the thermometer. Have the students observe the thermometer in the freezer at various times to monitor the temperature.

6. After one week, have the students remove their seeds from the freezer. Tell the students that they will now grow their seeds that have been stored. This is similar to how a seed bank works. Seeds must be regrown periodically to maintain their viability or ability to grow.

7. Ask the students why they think that monitoring the temperature in the freezer would be important. What might happen if the electricity went out? Could it possibly damage the seeds?

8. Relate the background information regarding the Global Seed Vault in Norway. Locate the Svalbard Islands on a map. Why would this arctic location be good for storing important seeds? If time permits, you may wish to show the slideshow of the seed vault that can be downloaded from the link in Additional Resources.

9. Have the students fold their paper towel in half and then in half again so that it is ¼ of the original size. Next, have them dampen their paper towel with water. Avoid getting too much water on the towel; water should not pool up in the plastic bag. Lay the seeds onto the paper towel. Seal the plastic bag.

10. Ask the students to cut out the My Seed Bank and label the graphic with the proper information. They may also use crayons to personalize their work. Have them staple the plastic bag containing the seeds to the center of the graphic.

11. Ask the students to predict if the cold storage will have an effect on their seeds. Have the students observe the germination of their seeds. Ask them to journal the seeds’ progress.


  • As a class, determine a few plants from the school garden from which seeds could be used the following year. List the steps and form a plan for harvesting, preparing and preserving those seeds. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of saving seeds from year to year.
  • Read the book, Nory Ryan’s Song and discuss why all of the potatoes died from the same disease. What are some ways that this problem could have been prevented?

Additional Resources

Nory Ryan’s Song, by Patricia Reilly Giff, ISBN: 978-0440418290

Slideshow of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault from The New York Times:

My Seed Bank Worksheet98.61 KB

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