Children love digging in the dirt and helping in the garden. However, how many of you have experienced your child running outside daily to see if they have a green bean or cucumber yet? Planting with children can be hard for them to understand when they don’t receive immediate results. Growing grass can provide much faster gratification than vegetables. So let’s start by growing a homemade chia pet to welcome in Spring. It’s not quite time to plant in the ground outside because we are bound to get another frost, so this project will be a great introduction to when you are ready to plant outside in a month or so.

Materials Needed For Homemade Chia Pet:

  • Soil
  • Grass Seed
  • Sheer pantyhose
  • String
  • 1 Pipe cleaner
  • Googly eyes
  • Hot Glue or Super Glue
  • Bowl & Spoon for mixing
  • Aluminum Foil Tray

How to Make Your Homemade Chia Pet:

  1. In a bowl or bucket, have your child mix soil with A LOT of grass seed.
  2. Cut a pantyhose around the height of the knee. Hold it open and have your child scoop the soil and seed mixture into it. Put as much as you want for a short or long caterpillar chia pet.
  3. Tie a knot at the end and cut off any extra pantyhose.
  4. Create sections in your caterpillar’s body by pulling string tight and tying a knot. We cinched three sections; reference the picture above.
  5. Now cut two antennas from your pipe cleaner and stick them through the nylon into the soil.
  6. Using hot glue or super glue, adhere two googly eyes to the face of your caterpillar. This should be done by an adult for safety. Let the glue dry before moving onto the next step.
  7. Lastly, you need to soak the soil all the way through. Do this by running it under your faucet. After the soil soaks up water, let excess water drip off before placing it in your aluminum foil tray.
  8. Place your homemade chia pet in a window that gets lots of sun. You don’t want your homemade chia pet sitting in water, so check it later that day and sop up any water sitting in the tray.

Caring for Your Caterpillar

  • Encourage children to care for their caterpillar so it can grow. (This is good practice if your child has been begging for a puppy.) Have them check it daily to see if it is dry. If so, run it under the faucet again to let it drink up more water.
  • Grass will sprout in 5-7 days and you will be surprised how fast it grows! Use a chart like this to document the growth.
  • Does the caterpillar need a hair cut? When the grass gets too long you can let children ages 4 and up help trim the grass.

To extend the learning of this activity ask younger children if they can draw a picture book about their homemade chia pet. Encourage them to use their imagination and form a story about an adventure the caterpillar may go on. You can help preschoolers write the sentences and for school-age children just help with spelling. In addition, can older children chart the growth of the grass in height and days? By the time you’ve completed this project over the next few weeks you and your children will be ready to plant seedlings for your outdoor garden!

planting with children

About The Author

Kelsey Dickson has over 15 years of experience working with children as a nanny, preschool teacher, and now a mother. She has her degree in Early Childhood Education and works for Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny as the eLearning Manager. Check out our online childcare classes, such as Baby Sign Language and Sleep Coaching 101! In her free time she enjoys gardening with her son, going for walks with her husband and dog, and discovering local wineries in New England.