Fe Fi Fo Fum, I smell a craft that is full of fun! Part of the magic of children’s stories is that they transport you to worlds where the impossible is possible – but what if you could capture some of that magic in your own home?!

Jack and the Beanstalk is a favorite tale because it amazes kids with the magic of a beanstalk growing as high as the clouds overnight and allows them to imagine a world that exists in the sky. It’s true that even in a non-magical world, the growing of plants and flowers often seems like fairy-tale level magic to young kids. Even to adults, the process of planting a small seed that (with some love and care) grows into something so much larger is awe-striking. This magic beanstalk activity, which uses a glass jar, allows you and your child to uncover some of the mystery of how a seed sprouts into a plant.

Materials: Glass mason jar, cotton balls, and dried beans (broad beans, kidney beans, and lima beans all work)


  • Grab a large handful of cotton balls and run them under water until they are wet, but not so soaked that they are dripping excess water.
  • Place the wet cotton balls in the bottom of the mason jar
  • Position the dried beans between the cotton balls and towards the side of the glass so you can see them – this will be your window into the hidden world of the growth process that usually takes place underground! (Hint: Plant two or more beans so that if one does not grow, you’ll still have the other!)
  • Spray the cotton balls with water each day so they remain wet
  • Make predictions about what might happen and what the plant will look like each day! You can even keep a seed journal to draw pictures of your observations or plant multiple jars with different types of beans to see how they differ.
  • Once the beanstalk has reached the clouds (or becomes a little too tall for your jar) it can be transplanted into the soil with a trellis to climb up or potted indoors in a larger pot if the climate does not allow

While Jack might not be able to climb up this beanstalk into a new world, it provides a magical look into the world of seeds and how they grow into plants that nourish us and contribute to beautiful landscapes. Bonus: no kids will be stomped on by giants in the making of this activity.

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