In first grade, students learn about the parts of a plant: the roots, the stem, the leaves, the flowers, and the fruit and seeds. While children learn all about these parts and their functions, they may not realize that the fruits and veggies on their plates and in their lunchbox came from specific parts of plants. Eating broccoli today? You’re eating a flower! Nibbling on carrots? You’re enjoying nice, crunchy roots!
So, what’s on your dinner table this week? Serve up a menu of plant parts to help reinforce your child’s understanding of plant science and encourage her to explore the natural world.
What You Need:
- Cookbooks and recipes you like
- A variety of foods that represent the parts of a plant, such as:
- Roots: carrots, turnips, beets
- Stems: broccoli stems, rhubarb, asparagus
- Leaves: spinach, cabbage, lettuce
- Flowers: broccoli florets, cauliflower, sugared pansies
- Fruits: peaches, pumpkin, tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, eggplant
- Seeds: nuts, peas, beans, corn, pumpkin seeds
What You Do:
- Wow your first grader by planning a plant-themed dinner menu for the week. On Monday, serve at least one dish featuring a root. Ask your child if she can guess what dinner item on her plate is a root. And if she has started learning about each plant part's function in school, ask her if she can tell you what the particular plant part being served that night does.
- On Tuesday, serve at least one dish featuring a stem. Again, ask your child if she can identify the food that is the "stem" on her plate.
- Continue in this manner, serving at least one item representing a plant part each day of the week.
- At the end of the week, see what your child remembers from the meals you’ve shared. Can she remember what roots she ate this week? Stems? Seeds?
- Finally, ask her to decide what her favorite plant dinner item was. Then invite her to sit down with you and look through recipe books for more recipes featuring her favorite plant part food. Now her understanding of plant science is really cooking! And the best part is, she'll be getting a healthy dose of nutrition along the way.
Liana Mahoney is a National Board Certified elementary teacher, currently teaching a first and second grade loop. She is also a certified Reading Specialist, with teaching experience as a former high school English teacher, and early grades Remedial Reading instructor.