I used this story to introduce the topic of seed germination when studying flowering plants. After reading the story we looked at broad bean seeds (which had been cut in half) using a magnifying glass and students completed annotated drawings in their science journals.
It had been a few weeks since the little seed had floated from the highest branches of its mother, to the soft soil beside the sparkling creek. There had been a rain storm that afternoon and the little seed had been washed into the creek and carried a small way down, until it finally landed in a lovely little grove.
The seed was happy to be there. Its skin had been softened by the rain and the journey through the creek had been exciting. Its final resting place was in the middle of a lovely grove of trees whose branches reached toward the sky.
“I wish I could be a big tree like that,” thought the little seed to himself. “They are so tall and beautiful.”
Over the next few days it rained some more and the little seed settled further into the soft earth. He felt safe and sheltered, but he couldn’t shake the feeling deep inside, that he could become something more.
That night the little seed dreamt of a cool breeze, rustling green leaves and swaying branches.
In his dream, the wind called to him, “Wake up little seed, become your true self. You are not just a seed. You can become a tall tree, with roots which go deep into the earth. All the ancient knowledge of the forest is within you.”
The next morning as the first rays of sunshine reached into the early morning mist, the little seed felt a stirring within himself. Knowing that his shell could no longer contain his dreams of the forest, he began to reach downwards, feeling the pull of the earth beneath him. At the same time the soft light of the early morning sun urged him to rise towards the glory of the blue sky above.
Luckily for the seed, all the knowledge of his ancestors and all the energy required for this journey into earth and sky had been stored within his little body. All he had to do was relax and allow himself to grow.
Over the next few weeks the little seed grew quite a bit. His stems grew thicker and he clothed himself in beautiful green shiny leaves. His roots travelled downwards in the way that all big strong trees do. His deep roots made him feel secure in himself. No strong wind, or raging creek was going to knock him over.
As he grew, little birds began to build their nests in his branches. Small creatures began to seek shelter from the sun and rain. Not only did the little tree feel at home in his little grove, but he was becoming a home for others.
One beautiful spring day he awoke to discover that he was covered in sprays of small delicate pink flowers. The delicate petals filled the air with the sweet scent of nectar. The little tree felt as if he had been wrapped in a cloud of sweetness.
“It must be a gift from nature. Every morning the sun’s beams gently warm my leaves and every afternoon the clouds give me rain so that I can grow inside,” he thought to himself.
The little tree basked happily in the sunshine, knowing his sweet fragrance was drifting to all the other trees and the animals around him – making them feel relaxed and happy.
“I wish I could give something to nature, since she gives me so much every day,” thought the little tree.
He thought about giving his green leaves, but then he realised they already came from nature. Next he thought of his lovely delicate flowers, but he realised those also came from nature.
“Everything I have and everything I am, I have received from nature. What can I possibly give in return?”
The little tree became silent inside and slowly his attention went deep into his roots and as high as his tallest branches. For a week he remained in this deep silent state, feeling the earth and sky. He watched as the sun’s beams danced across the bubbling creek and the glittering gaze of stars twinkled above him each night.
At last something within him began to stir. He could feel bunches of small red plums beginning to form along his branches. As they ripened, word in the forest began to spread about a little tree beside the creek which had lovely fresh red plums that anyone could eat.
Birds, possums, little mice and many other forest creatures began to make their way to the little tree.
“Mmmm” said Mama Possum. “These plums are delicious. I am going to bring some home for my babies.”
“Yes, me too said the Kookaburra. They are the best I’ve ever tasted,” he agreed.
The little tree didn’t know that inside every plum was a little seed and as the creatures of the forest eagerly ate his fruit and took them home to their families, his seeds were spreading far and wide.
“They way we’re going, soon there will be a whole forest of these little plum trees,” said Mama Possum to her husband.
When the tree heard this he wondered what she could mean, and then all of a sudden he realised. He did have something he could give to Nature. Every year his fruit would feed the forest and the creatures would spread his seeds, which would grow to become trees themselves and they would produce seeds too. He realised that in this way there would always be sweet smelling flowers, beautiful plums and loving leaves and branches for the forest creatures to live in.
With this new knowledge about himself the little tree felt so happy inside. He didn’t have to worry about anything. Nature provided everything he needed to grow and live and in return he just had to be himself. From that day forward he understood. He was no longer a little seed and no longer a little tree – he was a whole forest.
Download this story to read to your class: The Forest in the Seed – by Sarah Parker
Related lesson resources:
Primary Connections – Plants in Action This is an incredible science unit written by the great team at Primary Connections for Year 4 students. I adapted it for my multi-stage classroom and it worked well.
Look at Those Seeds Grow! Science NetLinks A great sequence of learning based around germinating a seed. This resource contains a lot of useful links.
Germination Teaching Resources – Lesson Planet A great selection of lesson plans to teach the topic of germination. This site uses a paid subscription model so not all resources are free to use.