This project gives kids some practice in working with numbers -- and a close-up view of spring's arrival.

Inspired by the wall markings used to track kids' height, these simple bulb growth charts let young ones adopt a bulb and track its progress. They'll hardly notice they're learning math and science along the way.

Growing plants
Credit: Photograph by Andrew Greto

Set It Up

Buy spring bulbs, either potted or loose, with just a bit of the growing tips exposed. Daffodils and hyacinths are fine candidates. Plant loose bulbs in potting soil or put their root ends in water. Place in a sunny spot and water as needed. For each measuring stick, cut an 18-inch wood strip (we cut ours from 1-inch-thick strips, less than $2 each at Home Depot). Set the stick next to the bulb's container and use a marker to note the starting date and to indicate the level of the bulb's top.

Start Measuring

When the first growing tip is about a half inch high, have your child mark its tallest point with a line of colored pencil, then color in the block as shown. Have him measure the new growth with a ruler, then use a marker to note the measurement and the date. Repeat every two to three days until the bulb blossoms.

Take It Further

Look for Patterns: Is growth consistent? Younger kids can simply observe the shapes of the color blocks, and older ones can compare the measurements to see if factors like weather and watering affect the growth rate.

Make It A Race: Which bulb grows fastest? Compare growth rates of different types of bulbs (you could even make predictions at the outset), or buy several of the same variety and assign one to each child. Kids can try moving plants to different windows or other strategies to affect the race's outcome.

Try Fraction Feats: How much did the bulbs grow over time? Challenge older kids to add up all the measurements taken over a week or two.

Originally published in the March 2013 issue of FamilyFun

Family Fun