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Public Library Series

Unit 2: We Grow Corn! - Let's Plant Corn!

Grade Level: Public Library

Unit 2 teaches the reader about the process of planting corn and what a corn kernel needs to germinate. Getting a kernel to germinate is similar for many plants but farmers need to make sure that each kernel emerges out of the ground and grows at the same rate as every other plant in the field to have the best crop.

Unit Instructions


30-45 minutes*

The amount of time will vary depending on the age group that is participating.

*Does not account for time to do the extension activity/TEACH-FLEX lesson.


  • “We Grow Corn! Raising corn on a Kansas family Farm” by Sharon Thielen, Ph.D.
  • Focus on pages 4-7 (10 Minutes)
  • Technology to watch:
    • Watch the Kernels of Knowledge Video: Preparing for Planting (3:25)
    • Watch the Kernels of Knowledge Video: Planting Corn (3:46)
  • Activity: Corn Germination Necklace (5-15 minutes)
    • Small jewelry bag
    • Dry water beads
    • Yarn
    • Cup
    • Water
    • Corn
  • Snack: Popcorn
  • Extension Activity/TEACH-FLEX Lesson (see lesson for material list)
  • Technology for Online Challenge (10 minutes)


If the reader has already read the entire “We Grow Corn!” book, this unit will focus on pages 4-7. On pages 4-5 the reader will learn about the farm machinery that is needed to grow a corn crop, this will also introduce them to the technology used by farmers. Take note about the size of the equipment, many students do not realize how large the equipment is. On pages 6-7 the reader will learn the details of planting corn. For some readers this may be the first time they realize that planting corn in a field is very different than in a garden. A planter will plant around 30,000 seeds in an area the size of a football field. You can ask the readers how long it would take them to plant that many seeds by hand. Farmers need equipment like tractors and planters to be able to put seeds in the ground faster. The planter also makes sure to put seeds in the ground with the right amount of spacing and depth, around 6 inches apart and 2 inches deep with 30 inches between rows (pages 6-7 show these details).

Remote learners can watch the author read the book online at Pages 4-7 are read between 1:50-2:24.


Kernels of Knowledge videos allow the reader of the “We Grow Corn” book to dig deeper into the details related to planting corn. The first video focuses on what a farmer needs to do to prepare for planting. Much of this involves making decisions on when and what to plant but also getting the equipment ready. The second video focuses on planting corn. The reader will be able to see what it is like to plant corn from inside a tractor and as someone standing in the field.

Kernels of Knowledge Video: Preparing for Planting (3:25)

Kernels of Knowledge Video: Planting Corn (3:46)


During this activity, the reader will be able to see what a corn kernel looks like when it germinates. Because this process happens underground many readers may not know what germination looks like. Using the materials provided the end product should look similar to this:


  1. Place water beads in water for 6 hours.
  2. After 6 hours place beads in bag.
  3. Add corn seed to bag and close bag.
  4. Move corn seed to between water beads.
  5. Thread yarn through the bag.
  6. Tie yarn to make a necklace.
  7. Watch corn germinate in 5-7 days.

Discussion Points

If you want to add more content to this activity you can use the following discussion points. A seed needs three factors to be able to germinate, start to grow.

  1. Seeds need the right temperature. Having the necklace around your neck and close to your body would be an ideal temperature and will allow the seed to germinate faster.
  2. Seeds need the right moisture. The inside of a jewelry bag when moistened with water beads will be close to 100% relative humidity, this is great for germination.
  3. Seeds need the right amount of air (oxygen). Corn seeds need oxygen from the air to germinate. As the seed takes in oxygen it releases CO2. Humans cannot breathe under water because we cannot get oxygen and CO2 has no place to go. The water beads will keep the seedling moist, but not under water, where it cannot breathe.

Note: People wonder if the seeds need light to germinate, almost all seeds do not need light to germinate. Once germinated and the first leaf is growing the new plant needs light to continue to grow healthy. Plants that do not get enough light are spindly and do not grow in a normal manner.

Experiment Ideas

  1. Compare temperatures when germinating. Have some readers wear their necklaces close to their body and compare with necklaces that are put in the fridge. Check in three days to see if there is difference in germination.
  2. Compare moisture and air when germinating. Have some readers put seeds in a bag without water beads and compare in three days to ones with water beads. Also pour water in some bags so the seed is submerged in water.
  3. Compare light. Place some necklaces in the dark and leave some in the light and see if there are any differences.

Online Challenge

A breakout box challenge is a fun way to test the reader on what they learned. This can be done as a group or individually if they have their own technology device. Answer key on page 61 of our hard copy instruction guide.

Extension Activity/TEACH-FLEX Lesson

To keep the conversation going about corn here is an additional activity that can be used in the library or encourage your readers to complete at home. All materials are common products found at home and for this activity there is a video of someone reading “The Popcorn Popper” by JoAnne Nelson.

About Kansas Corn STEM

Investing in Kansas teachers, students and public libraries is a priority for the Kansas Corn Commission. We are committed to providing materials and training to support STEM education while fostering an understanding of how corn farming and agriculture fit into our daily lives.

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This lesson is the work product of the Kansas Corn Commission. Our lessons are written in collaboration with Kansas teachers for use in the classroom. Teachers may copy and share this curriculum. Use of this product for commercial or promotional use is prohibited without express permission of Kansas Corn.

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