Eating plants

It occurred to me that my 3 year old and I have talked lots about where his food comes from, particularly where it's from plants, but he may not have fitted lots of snippets of information together. Spring is starting here and he's noticing more about plants beginning to grow again, so I thought it was a good time to do an activity involving plants and food.

Plant sketch and box of food ready to go

I sketched a quick picture of a plant with roots, a stem, leaves, flowers and fruits and a couple of small plants next to it, one a seedling and the other a bud beginning to grow. I have no doubt that someone with greater artistic skill than me could do a better job, but it proved adequate! We had been shopping this morning so we had a good selection of fruit and vegetables so I found an example of each and put them in a box - a spinach leaf, broccoli floret, potato, parsnip, carrot, onion, swede, garlic, sugar snap pea, blueberry, raspberry, orange, lemon, apple, tomato, cucumber, kiwi and avocado. 

Adding fruit and vegetables to the plant diagram

I then invited my son - who was curious about what I was doing when I was setting it up whilst he played with his train - to try and match the foods with the parts of the plant they come from. We read the labels I'd written on the plant together, and then he dived in. The spinach was easy, and then he went for the carrot. He was pretty sure it grew underground so we matched it to the root. Then came the parsnip, which he decided was like a carrot. He was also confident about the obvious fruits (raspberry, blueberry, apple, orange and lemon) but all the other foods from the box needed some discussion. I asked what they looked like e.g. the onion looks like a daffodil bulb, the broccoli looks like it's got little flowers, or whether they have seeds inside. He knew names for the seeds in different fruits - some are seeds, others pips or stones, but he didn't seem to have connected them all together as being things a new plant could grow from. He knew peas were seeds so the pea pod was placed on the seedling. 

More fruit and vegetables

He seemed to quite enjoy himself, and somewhat surprisingly didn't attempt to eat anything whilst he was matching things to the plant. Once he'd finished though, he asked if he could eat the raspberry, then the blueberry, then the kiwi. It turned out he'd never noticed the seeds in the kiwi before, and he was quite enthusiastic about his new discovery!

Just before some of the fruits began to be eaten

This was a fun and simple way to talk about food and plants. I simplified a little in places (potatoes aren't really roots), but it made me think of lots more plant activities we could do together over the coming year which he will hopefully enjoy.