Many young learners are unaware that fruits and vegetables are plant components. This activity will shed a bit of light on additional ways to classify plant foods.
To complete this show-and-discover activity, you will need
*an oversized (18” x 20”) laminated poster board divided into columns labeled Roots, Tubers, Stems, Leaves, Fruits, and Seeds.
*a cutting from a bunch of fresh collards or kale, one piece of celery, a yam, an asparagus tip, a carrot, a white potato, an orange, a small head of cabbage, a few string beans and snow pea pods. (Vivid photos or pictures of these foods can be used as an alternative.)
Randomly select students to define the parts of a plant. At this age, they will probably have some understanding of the words root, stem, leaf, seed and fruit and will note them accordingly. Add tubers their list.
So that our young learners will have an accurate sense of plant parts, highlight a few of their notable features:
The STEM usually grows upright and above the ground. It supports the leaves and reproductive organs of a plant and receives a lot of sunlight to help that plant grow.
TUBERS are huge parts of a stem that often grow underground. Tubers have “eyes”. Those eyes often sprout new stems that grow beneath the ground.
ROOTS grow beneath the ground and absorb food and minerals from the soil. They also help keep the plant in place. Some roots store food for the rest of the plant to use.
LEAVES grow above ground and absorb food and minerals from the soil. They also make most of the food that plants need to live and grow.
FRUITS are portions of flowering plants that contain a plant’s seeds. Many fruits are nutritious and delicious to eat.
SEEDS contain miniature plants and a food supply surrounded by a protective seed coat. They are formed when flowers are pollinated and the sperm from the pollen fertilizes the egg in the ovary of the flower. The fertilized ovary becomes the fruit, containing the seeds. When seeds ripen and are exposed to water, they germinate to produce new plants. Some seeds are contained in pods, a fruit that contains the developing seeds. Many types of beans and peas, also called pulses or legumes, come from pods.
Show and Discover. As a prelude, show the bunch of collards. Ask your students to think about what part of a plant it might be. Because collards have a leafy quality, the children will probably identify it as a leaf. “Collards” will be placed in the appropriate category. Continue the process, examining and discussing the characteristics of each presented edible plant: asparagus tips are stems; a yam and carrots are roots, a white potato is a tuber, an orange is a fruit, kale and a small head of cabbage are leaf vegetables, and so on. Include these foods beneath the appropriate category on the poster board.
A visit to the grocery store is a terrific complement to the activities noted herein. Have the children visit the fruits and vegetables department and classify found food products as noted herein.
Children’s Books and Video Recommendations
Whose Baby Is It?
The Cow That Went Oink
A Calf Is Born
Milo and Otis