What is the best way to spread cattail seeds? A lesson on how seeds are dispersed.

Author: Deborah
Lesson Plan:

What is the best way to spread cattail seeds?

Grade range: K-2

Time to complete: 30 minutes

Subjects/skills addressed: science


Students will demonstrate how cattail seeds are dispersed.

Materials needed:

Intact cattail

Bag of cattail seeds that have been removed from the stalk

Magnifying glass

Book-Sometimes Snow Falls in the Summer-optional

Words to know: seed, disperse or spread


1. Show the intact cattail to the students. Explain that there are many seeds tightly packed together on the stalk.

Ask: Would these seeds grow into new cattails on the stalk? Why or why not? How can we make it easier for the seeds to grow into a new cattail plant?

2. Gather the students into the center of a circle in the middle of the room or playground, having them stand close together.

3. Ask the student in the middle of the group to walk to the outside of the circle.

Ask: Was it difficult or easy to walk out of the circle? Why?

4. Have the students move so that they are arm distance apart from each other.

5. Now ask the student in the middle of the circle to walk to the outside of the circle.

Ask: Why was it easier to walk outside of the circle when you were far apart?

6. Use a magnifying glass to view the seeds inside the plastic bag.

7. Explain that the fibers around the seeds help them to become airborne and attach themselves in a new place to grow.

8. If the activity is conducted outside, release the seeds from the bag to show how they are dispersed by the breeze.

9. Repeat step four, allowing the students to pretend they are seeds flying in the breeze.


There are many ways in which seeds are dispersed for growth. Cattail seeds are attached to a cotton-like fiber. The fibers attached to the seed help it to be dispersed through the air, as well as adhere to other objects.

Extension Activity:

Conduct a nature walk to find other seeds similar to cattail seeds-dandelion, cottonwood, etc.

Fluffy fact:

Each cattail can have up to a million seeds on it.