As spring finally arrives and we see green begin to sprout, our minds turn to flowers, gardens, and time outdoors. Since March is also National Nutrition Month it is a great time to combine learning about gardening and fresh fruits and veggies.
What child isn’t curious about what is on the inside? That hidden part they can’t see.
This activity from Gardening with Young Children is the perfect way to introduce children to produce they might be unfamiliar with and teach them some of the basics of how plants grow.
• Fruits and vegetables are made up of different parts.
• Many fruits and vegetables have seeds on the inside.
• Seeds come in many different sizes, shapes, and textures.
two or three kinds of fruits or vegetables with seeds
trays on which to explore produce and seeds
1. Set out the fruits or vegetables on the table. Engage the children in a discussion about what they know about the produce so far.
2. Discuss what the children know about seeds. Did they plant seeds in their garden? Where do they think those seeds came from? What do they think they will find if they cut the fruits/vegetables open?
3. Cut the fruits/vegetables. If the produce is soft enough, the children can cut it themselves with table knives. If the produce is large or hard, the adult should use a sharp knife to cut it. Encourage the children to observe the seeds. How are the seeds alike? How are they different? What words could you use to describe the seeds?
• Cut open a large fruit, such as a birdhouse gourd or swan neck gourd. For this task, the children can use woodworking tools, such as a hammer. Be sure they wear goggles while attempting to open the gourd. They will first make a small hole in the gourd, and further work with the hammer should make the hole bigger. Soon they should be able to get seeds and pulp out of the gourd.
• If you have seed packets, compare the seeds the children find in the fruits and vegetables with the seeds in the packets for those plants. Are they similar?
You can find more fun gardening activities in Gardening with Young Children by Sara Starbuck, Marla Olthof, and Karen Midden.