Instead of growing up believing that carrots come from the grocery store, your preschool students can learn where these healthy veggies actually originate. Preschool-age children can explore and observe the plant's life cycle while also learning about nutrition during a hands-on growing lesson. Continue the activity, extending it for weeks or months as the children care for and nurture their living carrot garden.
Growing the Activity
Start the lesson by discussing carrots, where they come from, how they grow and why they are part of healthy eating. Use an outdoor garden or individual planter pots if a suitable outdoor space isn't available. Remember, carrots are root vegetables and grow downwards into the ground. That said, if you're using planters, opt for deep pots or send the plants home for the children to put in their home gardens. Encourage the preschoolers to explore and study the seeds prior to planting them. Allow the children to participate fully in the planting, letting them dig the dirt and put the seeds in. Continue the activity for the duration of the growth cycle. Have the children observe and care for the plants daily until they mature. When the carrots are ready to harvest, gently pull them out, wash them thoroughly and use them to prepare a lunch-time salad.
Materials for Creating Carrots
The primary material that you'll need for a lesson on the carrot life cycle is a packet of carrot seeds. You'll also need deep planter pots -- if you aren't using an outdoor garden -- and pint-sized gardening tools. Choose shovels or trowels that easily fit in the children's hands and have plastic grips for easy handling. Give the children tot-sized gardening gloves for the initial planting. You'll also need a watering can or a hose with a sprinkler for daily use.
While learning about the growing cycle may seem like the most obvious goal for the carrot lesson, the specific activity objectives include additional items. For example, you may want to include a literacy objective such as learning new science and plant vocabulary or math goals such as measuring the plant's growth. Encourage the children to learn how to care for living things by setting a goal to remember to water the plants every day. Additionally, your students can begin to compare the similarities and differences of what they watch as the plants are growing. Set a goal for them to identify what is special about a plant as a living theme and how it compares to something such as a doll or toy car.
Mini Mad Scientists
Extend the learning by using the scientific process throughout the carrot lesson. Create an inquiry-based activity and start with a question such as, "What do you think will happen to the seed after you plant it?" Ask the children to predict how big the carrots will grow or how quickly they will mature, making a hypothesis. Observe the growth daily, having the children document the process by drawing pictures in a notebook or science journal. After picking the plants, go back to initial growth predictions and compare them to the fully grown carrots.
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