To complement a recent Strawberry Shortcake recipe from Raddish Kids, Travis and I had fun with this homeschooling lesson on the various edible parts of a plant.
Ahead of time, I gathered two examples of each of these six plant categories:
- Roots: carrot and potato
- Stems: asparagus and celery
- Flowers: broccoli and flowers
- Seeds: peas and pinto beans
- Leaves: spinach and lettuce
- Fruit: tomato and apple
I hid all of these under a blanket, and called Travis over.
He was immediately intrigued, of course, checking out the blanket with his hands and using his nose, too, when I invited him to use all his senses. Could he guess what was underneath? Tada! The big reveal.
I challenged him to put the items into pairs, using whatever criteria made sense to him. This confused him a bit, but he began to match them up. Some he got correct without understanding why; it was easy to see that the spinach and lettuce leaves were similar, for example, or that the tomato and apple were both big and round.
When he was finished, I shifted his answers around slightly. Aha, the asparagus and celery went together… because they were both the stems of plants. Same for the potato and carrot – both roots!
I ran through a quick definition of each of the six parts. As a bonus, I asked him why the mushroom was leftover. Aha – a fungus!
Big kids may want to pause here and make a chart and then brainstorm other foods that fit each of the six categories. But Travis and I hopped right along to the next activity: artwork! We used all of the items to make a picture. I gave him complete free reign, which meant that at first he wasn’t depicting anything, just enjoying the materials. He discovered, for example, that you can pull strings from the celery that glued down nicely.
Then he got a bit more purposeful. There was a flower rimmed in pinto beans with a celery stem and mushroom center. And orange carrot curls for a sun.
This, he proudly informed me, was a whale.
Big kids may want to make a plant with their plants, or perhaps a funny plant person!
We next checked out a few of Raddish’s suggested links, including a read-aloud of the very funny Tops and Bottoms. As he watched an informative clip about plants, Travis kept running over with tidbits. “Did you know rice is a seed??” I love seeing him so excited about learning!
We next made an art collage of the six plant parts using a grocery store flyer.
After he cut out all the pictures of fruits and veggies, we talked through where on our collage each item belonged.
This was also great for sightreading words!
As a bonus activity, we tested out Raddish’s suggested Kitchen Garden Experiment to regrow food scraps. We read about how plants can stockpile nutrients to keep growing for a short time, provided with water and sunlight, even if they no longer have soil.
I set out three different vegetable scraps for Travis: green onion bulbs, the bottom of a head of celery, and the bottom of a head of romaine lettuce.
We placed each in a container filled with water and set them on the windowsill. Travis’s hypothesis was that celery would grow fastest.
Each day we changed the water and observed. It was immediately apparent that green onion grew far faster than the other two.
After a couple of days, we measured the progress.
We also drew a picture of what he had observed. Then Travis wanted to eat the green onion, so that was the end of our scientific method!
There is so much more that older kids can do to learn about plants. Consider cooking a recipe that uses all 6 parts of a plant, or perhaps sprouting seeds.