Teaching children about plants, seeds, vegetables and fruit becomes a fun activity with just a little adult supervision. There are lots of ways to turn a few seeds into a comparison of big and little while making a collage, learning about veggies with stamp painting and seeing how root vegetables become an undersea pretend garden.
Place a layer of glass marbles or pebbles in the bottom of a fish bowl. Cut a 1-inch slice off the top of root vegetables where previously the stem end was growing. Good vegetables to try are carrots, radishes, rutabagas, turnips and parsnips. Place the veggies cut side down on the marbles, and gently fill in between the veggies with additional marbles to keep each veggie in place. Fill the bottom of the fish bowl with no more than 2 inches of water. The bottom of the cut end of the veggies should be in the water, but the top of the veggie should not be covered. Place a few fish toys among the veggies as if they were swimming. After a few days, the veggies will start to sprout new leaves at their tops.
Big and Little
Seeds come in many different sizes. A fun craft for children and a learning experience is to create a montage of seeds from everyday fruits going from big to little. Take the child to the grocery store, and let him select a group of fruits. Suggestions include avocado, banana, strawberries, raspberries, orange, apple, pear, peach and apricot. Slice open the fruits with the child, and remove the seeds. The child may be surprised to see how big the avocado seed is and how tiny banana seeds are. Arrange the seeds from big to little and glue on cardboard.
The same vegetable may come in many different sizes. Potatoes are a good example. In the grocery store, have the child find the biggest potato, the smallest potato--try the gourmet produce section for really little ones--and several in-between sizes. Cut the potatoes in half. Then carve out the same shape on each potato but in different sizes to match the size of the potato. The biggest shape is on the biggest potato, and the smallest size is on the smallest potato. Dip the potatoes in food coloring, and then stamp on paper.
Not only can potatoes be used as "stamps," but so can many other vegetables without any additional carving. Good ones to try are broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and radishes. Cut the veggies in half or in 2-inch-thick slices vertically across the vegetables. Two inches is a good size for small hands to handle. Dip the cut slices into paint, and stamp on craft paper. Each vegetable makes a different shape.
Children love to have silly fun, and making faces with fruits and vegetables as the noses, eyes, hair, cheeks and such is certainly silly. Vegetables may be raw or cooked. Fruit is better raw. Spread a layer of mashed potatoes for the veggies in a shallow pie pan or a layer of yogurt for fruits. That will anchor the veggies or fruits. Children compose their creation and afterward can have their masterpieces as snacks.