Introducing children to plants helps teach them about the environment and the world around them. If you find that your kids are learning about plant anatomy in a book, or more likely a screen, right now – grab a small shovel and head out into your yard where a hands-on plant parts lesson awaits!
Any plant (or weed) will work. I like to use dandelions because the parts are all very visible and you can likely see both seeds and the flowers on the same plant at the same time. Ask your child to review with you each part of the plant and take some time to explore them before going over their purposes.
Ask some guiding questions.
- What do you first notice about this plant?
- What is the largest part of the plant? Why do you think that is?
- I wonder why flowers are colorful, do you have an idea?
- How do you think these seeds might travel – by wind, water, or animal?
Remember, this is not a test! Correct answers can take a back seat while your child practices critical and creative thinking skills. Validate them by listening and sharing your own curiosity and observations.
Roots serve two important functions. They hold the plant in place and serve as a pipeline from the soil to the rest of the plant for water and nutrients.
Do we eat roots? Yes and YUM!
Some common roots we eat are carrots, beets, radishes, and parsnips.
The stem of a plant gives it structure, holding it upright and bringing the water and nutrients from the roots to the rest of the plant.
Do we eat stems? Yes and YUM!
Some common stems we eat are asparagus and celery.
Leaves are the mvpp (most valuable plant part) when it comes to photosynthesis or the process through which plants convert the sun’s energy, water, and carbon dioxide into food.
Do we eat leaves? Yes and YUM!
Some common leaves we eat are lettuce, collards, kale, and cabbage.
Flowers house the reproductive organs of plants and it is where pollination happens.
Do we eat flowers? Yes and YUM!
Some common flowers we eat are broccoli and cauliflower.
The seed holds the promise of a new plant. Inside, you’ll find the embryo that, under the right conditions, can grow to start this process all over again!
Do we eat seeds? Yes and YUM!
Some common seeds we eat are corn, peas, and almonds.
Level Up Their Learning: At the dinner table tonight, ask your kids to tell you about the plants on their plate and see if they can identify which part of the plant they are eating. Mmmmm, delicious roots!
Check out Growing Up Green with Garden Educator Rachel as she reviews the major parts of a plant and talks about some fun things to eat from the garden.