Knowing Your Vegetables & Your Potatoes

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Published October 5, 2017
Subject: Culinary, English, Nutrition Education, History, Science
Season: Winter, Spring, Fall
Place of Learning: Cooking Classrooms, Garden, Farm-Based, Kitchen, Cafeteria, Academic Classroom
Resource Type: Lessons
Grade Level: Pre-K, Kindergarten
Uploaded by:
Zohar Gitlis

In this lesson, students will identify the parts of a plant and learn that vegetables come from every part of the plant. They will also categorize a variety of vegetables by what part of the plant they are. Finally, students will learn the life cycle of a root vegetable--the potato.

Objectives

Students will: 

  • Label the parts of a plant
  • Identify vegetables by the part of the plant it comes from
  • Learn and sequence the life cycle of a potato
Materials

- A variety of vegetables: carrot, potato, onion, squash, pepper, kale, broccoli, etc. {If fresh vegetables cannot be purchased, print out pictures of them! This still works well!}

- Printed steps of the life cycle of a potato {PDF attached}

Procedures
  1. Have the students gathered in a circle, or any comfortable seating option.
  2. Ask students their favorite way to eat a potato. This helps to understand how much the kids know about potatoes and to introduce the topic of vegetables & potatoes.
  3. Ask students: “what is a vegetable?”. Ideally, they answer that it is a plant. Then, ask them “what part?”. At this point, they probably don’t know what part of the plant they eat when they eat vegetables (or they don’t realize that it varies!).
  4. Using a large writing space (poster, whiteboard, chalkboard, etc.), ask the students if they know any parts of the plants. As they answer, draw a plant and label the parts. In the end, the picture should have roots, a stem, leaves, a flower, fruit, and seeds.
  5. Now that they know the different parts, pass out a variety of vegetables. These can include carrot, potato, onion, squash, pepper, kale, and broccoli.
  6. Ask the students to figure out what part of the plant that vegetable comes from. They should think about what they know about how it grows as a way to help them. Tell them to try to stand in groups of vegetables that are the same part of the plant (e.g. root, seed, fruit, etc.).
  7. After they all seem to be in a group, go through each vegetable & ask them why they put themselves in those groups. If they're right, help them explain why. If they're wrong, try to help them figure out their correct space.
  8. Following this, regroup them back in a circle. Ask them some of the following questions:
    1. Are you surprised by how many different plant parts we eat?
    2. Have you ever seen these plants growing/grown them yourselves?
    3. What vegetable is your favorite, and what part of the plant is it? (e.g. “My favorite is carrot, and it is a root.”)
  9. To transition, ask students if they have ever seen a potato grow. Ask them if they remember what part of a plant a potato is.
  10. After discussing, hand out photos of the different stages of the life cycle of the potato. (If there are more students than there are photos, have them in groups). As a class, ask the students if they know the first step to growing a plant. They will most likely answer "seed". Ask the students if they think their photo is of a potato seed. Once found, put the photo where everyone can see.
    1. Continue this until all of the life cycle has been completed.
    2. The photo of the fruit & flower of a potato plant can be used in the cycle, or just shown to the group so they can see what it looks like.
  11. After completing the life cycle, ask them to name one thing they learned about vegetables today. As a way to see what they remembered, ask what part of the plant different vegetables are. (e.g. "What part of the plant is a carrot?")
Further Learning
  • If students are interested in learning more about potato plants, here is some more information that they could enjoy.
    • Potato plants are perennials, meaning they grow low to the ground like vines.
    • The part of the potato plant that we eat grows underground and is called a “tuber”. This means that it grows from the end of the stems below the roots.
    • The tuber has several buds, which we call eyes. This is where new potatoes grow from.
  • The following are some fun facts about potatoes. These could be fun to hang around the room or to just impress the students with.
    • Potatoes were first grown more than 10,000 years ago in the Andes region in Peru.
    • Potatoes are the world’s fourth largest crop behind rice, wheat, and corn.
    • There are more than 1000 types of potatoes around the world.
    • The states that produce the most potatoes are Idaho and Washington.
    • The potato was the first vegetable to be grown in space.

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