Math at Home Math Access for Teachers
and Home Child Care Providers

CME Group Community Foundation



The Tiny Seed

Children will count the seeds by ones and twos and then put the packets in order
from smallest to largest and vice versa.

Content Area Standard Target
  • Number and Operations
  • Algebra
  • Measurement
  • Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems
  • Represent and analyze mathematical situations and structures using algebraic symbols
  • Apply appropriate tools, and formulas to determine measurements
  • Understand patterns, relations, and functions
  • Develop understanding of the relative position and magnitude of whole numbers and of ordinal and cardinal numbers and their connection
  • Sort, classify, and order objects by size, number, and other properties
  • Use concrete, pictorial, and verbal representations to develop an understanding of invented and conventional symbolic notations
  • Count with understanding and recognize “how many” in sets of objects
  • Develop common referents for measures to make comparisons and estimates
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Obtain materials Obtain the Materials
  • The book, The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
  • 12 x 18 pieces of construction paper
  • Glue
  • Packets of seeds.  Make sure to create seed packets that have a mixture of different seeds such as small and large and various colors. As many packets as you have students plus one extra for demonstration purposes.


Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the activity Introduce the Activity
  1. Show the children one of the packets of seeds.  Ask the children to guess/estimate how many seeds are in the packet. 
  2. Field and record answers. Open the packet the seeds and count the seeds.  Ask: "Were the estimates more or less than the actual number of seeds?"  (Extension – For your older students, ask, how much more or what is the difference between the estimate and the actual number of seeds?)
  3. Explain that after we read the book, The Tiny Seed, the children will receive their own packets of seeds to estimate, count and record the number of seeds.
Engage the children Engage the Children
  1. Read the book, The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle.
  2. Ask the children to count how many seeds they have by ones.  Then have them put them in a row, and count them by twos.  Can they count them by fives.  Make sure that no matter how they count the seeds, they always come up with the same number.
  3. Now have the students put the seeds in a mathematical order of their choice (such as ordeing them from smallest to largest or vice versa).
  4. Once the children decide on a way to organize and display their seeds, have them glue their seeds and the seed packet onto a piece of construction paper.  They should also write their mathematical thinking next to the seeds. For example, if they are grouping their seeds into rows of twos, their mathematical thinking should exhibit skip counting by twos.  They should also put the total number of seeds found in the packet.

Additional Extensions

  • Ask:“How much more?” or “What is the difference?” between the estimate and the actual number of seeds?
  • Create simple addition and subtraction word problems. Use the seeds and what happens to them throughout the book. You can also use some of the animals in your word problems, too.
  • The children can group the seeds in a variety of ways.  The children can group the seeds according to any criteria they want to use, but they will have to explain the criteria to you. So, they could group them by color, size, texture, etc.
Encourage vocabulary Encourage Vocabulary
  • Group – Equal sets (e.g., "Group the seeds by twos.")
  • Estimate – To form an approximate judgment or opinion regarding the amount, worth, size, weight, etc., of; calculate approximately (e.g., "Estimate how many seeds are in your packets.")
  • Sort – Separating the items according to a given attribute (e.g., "Sort the seeds according to color.")
  • Count – To identify the amount of something by number (e.g., "Count the number of seeds in your packet.")

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Make adaptations Make Adaptations

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

  • Not have mastered one-to-one correspondence.
Vertical line

Pre-K Children may:

  • Have a grasp of one-to-one correspondence and can easily count by and group by twos.
  • Understand attributes.
  • Be beginning to develop number sense and are beginning to add and subtract one-digit numbers.

Home child care providers may:

  • Help the children in counting their seeds and have the children count their seeds by ones.  And when they glue their seeds onto the construction paper, help the children to write the corresponding number under the each seed.
  • Have the children group the seeds into a named attribute.  For example, the children can group by color or shape.


Home child care providers may:

  • Have the children count and group the seeds by a higher number.
  • Allow the children to group the seeds according to any criteria they want to use, but they will have to explain the criteria.  They could group them by color, size, texture, etc.
  • Create simple addition and subtraction word problems. Use the seeds and what happens to them throughout the book. You can also use some of the animals in your word problems, too.


Books Books
  • The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle (New York: Little Simon, 2009)

Music and movement Music and Movement
Outdoor connections Outdoor Connections
  • Plant seeds and measure their growth.  Group the seeds you plant – vegetables, flowers, plants, fruits.  A wonderful activity for all small children. 

  • Grow the seeds indoors. Take time to observe how seeds grow.  A simple way to plant seeds is to use cotton balls, water, plastic baggies, a bowl of water, and seeds.  Before introducing the activity to the children, soak the seeds overnight to speed up the process.  Have each child dip their cotton ball into water and place them in their baggie.  They should use enough cotton balls to fill the bottom of their baggie.  Next, each child will add seeds to their baggie.  Remind the children that the seeds need space to grow and need 4 or 5 days to sprout.  Once the children finished adding their cotton balls and the seeds to their baggies, close up the baggies and taped them to a window (make sure the baggies are sealed tight so they hold in the moisture).  Wait and see what happens. Talk about the growth of the seeds as they start to shoot out some sprouts.



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