Sprouting Scraps

You can grow a garden in winter-- with your vegetable scraps! Bringing edible plants back to life nurtures your preschooler’s science learning and divergent thinking too.


Growing plants takes time. Caution your little one to expect some waiting, at least 2 to 5 days depending on your plant, before you see little changes start to happen.

MATERIALS - click to buy
  1. Clear, glass container - Sized to fit your food scrap
  2. You can use any one of these veggies for this activity: Green onions or your choice of potatoes. Yams, red, yukon … potatoes all will do as long as they can fit into a glass container. Old, soft and sprouting potatoes with “eyes” grow most quickly. Also note, in cold weather months, store-bought veggies are often previously refrigerated, which stops their growth. For this activity, be sure to use fresh veggies that show signs of life.
  3. Sharp knife - For adults only!
  4. Toothpicks with sharp ends like these found on Amazon.
  1. Skilly Spark for Green Onions: Take a gander at this long onion. We’ll use the green part for cooking. But not the bottom, right? Let’s peek at its bottom, that’s called a bulb. It’s where the onion grows green parts from. We can make our own green stalks from it and watch it everyday to see how it grows.
  2. Adults, cut the green stalks about an inch above the white bulb. Place the bulb in a small glass with just enough water to cover its bottom. Leave it somewhere sunny and you’ll see growth in a day or two.
  3. For an endless supply of green onion, change the water every other day. In about 10 days you can cut off the green shoots. Repeat as desired!
  4. When weather allows, you can plant your sprouting onions outside.
  5. Skilly Spark for Potatoes: Check out these tired, old potatoes. Feel how soft they are. See these spots that look like eyes, peeking out of the potato? That means we can make a plant!
  6. If your potatoes are old and have sprouts, mother nature has given you a head start! Insert toothpicks around the part of the potato that’s sprouting so that it can be balanced on the top of your glass. Older 3 and 4-year-olds can help you do this. 
  7. Submerge the sprouts or eyes in water. Don’t put the whole potato in water, only the area with eyes. Now, place it in a spot with direct sunlight.
  8. To better see it growing, change the water when the it gets cloudy, about every other day.
  9. In 5 to 7 days, your sprouts will begin to bud into a green plant. If want to replant it in your garden in a warm time of year, it will grow a new potato in 2-3 months. Potato-riffic!!
Keep the fun going
  • How does your garden grow? Older children, 4 years and up, can measure their plant every day and make a chart showing the growth.
  • Create a “guess book” predicting when you think you’ll first see signs of growth. Or, paint or draw how you think your veggie friend will look when it’s fully grown.
  • Name your growing plant and make up a story about how it is feeling and what it would say to you. Is it easy being green?