Eating Parts of a Plant

Getting your kids to eat their vegetables can often be a chore.  Sometimes presenting it in a fun activity can make it more inviting.  Sometimes not.  Either way, this is an easy way to show children the connection between plants that they see and the vegetables that we eat.  No prep required and no weird ingredients to purchase.  You probably have these at home!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Baby Carrots (I steamed them for the tiniest tots in my class)
  • Broccoli Florets
  • Celery (Cut thin for the little ones)
  • Sunflower seeds (I’ve used both shelled and unshelled)
  • Fresh Spinach (or other leafy green)
  • Tomatoes (I used halved grape tomatoes because they are sweeter)
  • Plate
  • Dip (optional)IMG_7278

I cut up the vegetables and steamed the broccoli and baby carrots.  Since I have many 2 year olds in my classes, I wanted to make sure the veggies were soft and safe for them to chew.  I sliced the celery thin since the youngest ones still struggle with the fibers.

I used shelled sunflower seeds the first time I did this. The second time I used the ones in the shells and showed the tots the outside of the seed.  Then we broke them open and investigated the edible seed inside.

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I arranged the sample of vegetables on a plate and invited the tots to taste them on a plate.

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The children were invited to taste the real plant parts and then guess whether they were flowers, leaves, stems, seeds, fruit or roots.  We talked about the fibrous and strong celery stem and how juicy and watery it was inside. We also investigated the seeds inside of the tomatoes.  We broke open the shells of the sunflower seeds and tasted the seed inside.

I also had a pile of paper cutouts of the plant parts for the older tots.

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They could glue the real or paper versions on their worksheets.

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Extension:

This activity goes well with my Flower Sorting Discovery Tray.  I had the tots first sort through the parts of the flowers, showing them the roots, stems, leaves, flowers and pollen.  Then we connected it to this activity of plant parts we can eat.

The Science behind the Activity:

Children get excited about food when they take an active role in either preparing food, selecting food or interacting with food.  By comparing vegetables to parts of a plant, it piques a child’s interest in the food, thus making them more likely to try it.  Maybe.  (A mom can hope, right?)  This activity also links parts of plants to what we eat.  Eating plant leaves or plant stems or flowers seems so much more fun than eating broccoli or celery or spinach.

To see where I got this simple but fantastic idea from, please visit:  http://www.mpmschoolsupplies.com/ideas/3112/spring-plant-unit-eating-the-parts-of-a-plant/

Flower Sorting Discovery Tray

Spring is in full swing and there a re beautiful flowers blooming everywhere!  Taking apart flowers and plants are a great way to explore the different parts that make up plants.  Set up this EASY Flower Sorting Discovery tray with either store bought flowers, flowers/plants from the yard, or flowers/plants from a nature walk.  Add a magnifying glass and some tweezers for some extra fun!

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • assortment of flowers, whole and broken into parts (sunflowers are great!)
  • seeds, roots, stems, leaves, flowers
  • magnifying glasses (optional but so fun for the kids!)
  • trays or plates to contain the mess

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Set up a tray with the following labels: roots, stems, leaves, and petals, along with a magnifying glass.  I placed a sunflower on each tray to get the kids started.

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Invite them to sort through the plant parts and ask them why they sorted them the way they did.  Kids often interchange sticks and stems. Discuss how there are different shapes and sizes of leaves.  Have them tell you the colors of the petals.  Count the petals on the flowers or the leaves on the stem for a math extension.  This activity is great for the youngest toddlers and the older preschoolers and kindergarteners.

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Science behind the activity:

Kids love to sort and there is something exceptionally fun about being able to take something apart that you are not usually allowed to do.  It also gives them a chance to freely explore, make their own connections with the plants and sort all the parts.  Young children LOVE to sort.  Older ones love counting.  It’s also a great sensory activity where they can touch and smell the plants.

Extensions:

Take your tots out for a nature walk and have them collect parts of plants.  Especially after a good rain, it was fun for my boys to pull weeds from the yard and see the roots.  Then sort the treasures collected on the nature walk.  When the kids are done dissecting and sorting the plant/flower parts, use the petals and leaves and sticks to create your own art project by making a Nature Suncatcher or just an art activity.

Here’s an easy suncatcher we made with plants and flowers pressed in between 2 sheets of contact paper:

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Click on the link for more details and to see where I got my idea from: http://scrumdillydo.blogspot.com/2014/07/investigating-plants-and-flowers.html

Sink the Pots of Gold!

I set this experiment up in about 3 minutes for my 3 superheroes and they are STILL laughing and playing as I write this blog post!  So easy, so fun and perfect for the warm late winter’s afternoon we have right now in Mid-March.  I’m using Pots of Gold since St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, but this can be done with any plastic cup or small container and rocks or pennies.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Bin for the water (I use plastic shoebox bins from the Dollar Store)
  • Food coloring (optional – I used green for this activity)
  • Candy Kettles (any party store has them seasonally) or any small plastic cup
  • Rocks (I painted mine gold for St. Patrick’s Day)
  • Pennies (we needed almost 100!)

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I set up the tray for them

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I had the boys place one gold nugget in the water and watch it sink.  Then they placed the kettle in the water and it floated.

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Next, I asked them to add the gold to the pot until it sank.

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My littlest one loved this.  He also practiced his counting!  (He can only go up to 5 so I used BIG rocks for him) Looks like the pot is almost about to sink!

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Oh no!  Too much gold!  The pot sank!

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The boys had so much fun playing with this!  My eldest son used pennies in his pot.  It took him over 50 pennies!

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I had a BIG mess on the floor.  So, I recommend doing this outside 🙂

This activity is a St. Patrick’s version of my original floating activity: What Floats Your Boat?

The Science behind the Activity:

When doing this experiment with older kids, I discuss the concept of buoyancy, which is the ability of an object to float when placed in a fluid.  Surface area greatly affects the buoyancy of an object.  The larger surface area allows the force (weight of the gold/pennies) to be spread out over a larger area, thus allowing the pot to float even with the “treasures”. The larger surface area displaces more water.  This is why a large hull in a ship is able to float on water.  And if the ship is floating on salt water (like the ocean) it can carry even more cargo since salt water is denser than pure water.  It’s a bit more complicated than my simplified explanation, but hopefully you get the point.  And for the little ones, it’s just fun to sink the pots and get wet:)

For more details and to see where I got my idea from, please visit: http://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/st-patricks-day-sink-float-science-experiment-with-pennies/

For more St. Patrick’s Day Science, check out the following activities: