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'Jack and the Beanstalk' Week


At least one month in advance, at one-week intervals,

start bean seeds in Styrofoam cups or plant pots and grow on a sunny windowsill.

You should have bean plants at four different stages of growth in drainage saucers

Four rulers | Paper and pencil for chart | Measuring cup of water

Cotton or muslin fabric | yarn

Bean seeds | Photocopied back of bean seed packet with a paper-punched hole

Fishing pole | Green ribbon or thin fabric strip as a "beanstalk"

with green cardstock "leaves" stapled or hot-glued on

Note: this activity is best done in mid-May when seeds can be planted outside

These ideas are compliments of Family Service Lincoln, Child Care Food Program:


1.    Read "Jack in the Beanstalk."

2.    Show your four beanstalks at different stages. Place a ruler behind each one, and make a chart that shows the height of each seedling in inches and the number of leaves. Water each plant one-fourth cup of water or any quantity that moistens the soil and runs out the drainage holes at the bottom. Mark on your chart that they were watered.

3.    Send an invitation home to a brief "Jack in the Beanstalk Show" at pick-up time on Friday.


1.    Re-read "Jack and the Beanstalk," pausing three times during the story to ask the children what happens next

2.    Practice and memorize this "Seedling Fingerplay" with actions:

Plant a little seed in the ground

(pretend to plant a seed on your hand)

Sunshine and raindrops all around

(make a circle over your head, then make rain motions)

Little seed in the ground so still

(now be the seed - curl up on the ground)

Will you grow up? Yes . . . I . . . WILL!!!

 (uncurl, slowly stand up tall, and spread open your arms)

3. Brainstorm a story with the children answering this question: what would YOU find if YOU climbed to the top of a magic beanstalk? Write a group story on a large piece of paper.


1.    Check the bean plants. Have they grown any inches? Have they added any leaves? Record any changes on your chart. If they need to be watered again, do so. You can test by touching the top quarter-inch or so of the soil and if it feels dry, rather than moist, then you can water again.

2.    Re-read "Jack and the Beanstalk" and this time, have the children act out the various parts. See which children get in to it the most. Select who will play each part and go through the story again. Let them move around and express the story however they want.

3.    Practice the "Seedling Fingerplay."

4.    Learn this song and do actions - to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell":

"The Farmer's Garden Song"

The farmer plants the seeds,

The farmer plants the seeds,

Hi, Ho, the Cherry-O,

The farmer plants the seeds.

The rain begins to fall . . .

The sun begins to shine . . .

The plants begin to grow . . .

Vegetables to eat . . .

5.    Look for a recipe with beans in it that the children can cook or fix. One idea is to steam whole green beans in advance, chill, and serve with sour cream with a little mustard mixed in, as a dip. But don't TELL them what's in the dip - call it "Jack and the Beanstalk Dip."


1.    Practice "Jack and the Beanstalk" as a play again, only this time, extend the fishing line over a room divider or overhead pipe (perhaps the grid of a lowered ceiling?). Attach the hook to the top of the "beanstalk" made of fabric or ribbon to the fish hook. Right after the child playing the part of "Jack" plants the bean seeds, have another adult reel up on the fishing pole so that the fabric "beanstalk" looks like it's "growing" from the floor. It's magic! Continue practicing the rest of the play.

2.    Practice "Seedling Fingerplay."

3.    Practice "The Farmer's Garden Song."

4.    Have the children illustrate the group story that you wrote on Tuesday: "What WE would find at the top of our beanstalk." Each child should try to write his or her name on the front, with adult help if needed. Tape them up around the story on the wall.


1.    First thing, check your four bean plants one last time, and record on the chart any changes in length or number of leaves.

2.    Make "party favors" -- each child should make a homemade fabric pouch out of a fabric square, in the center of which is placed three bean seeds, and the pouch tied with yarn, which is also connected through a paper-punched hole to the bean pouch, so that families will receive the information on how to grow bean seeds at home.

3.    Practice the "Jack in the Beanstalk" play, the "Seedling Fingerplay," and "The Farmer's Garden Song."

4.    When parents and guests arrive, welcome them, have one child show the four bean plants and the chart, and another child show the story and illustrations. Then present the play, the fingerplay, and the song.

5.    Send home a "Jack and the Beanstalk Bean Bag" with each family, and encourage them to plant the seeds in their garden at home and put up a bean pole. If all goes well, they can expect to harvest beans to eat in about 60 days!

By Susan Darst Williams • • Preschool 08 © 2010

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