Can we Eat it?!

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SWBAT to identify unusual edible plants by trying some unusual tasty plants.

Big Idea

Students are often locked into the foods they know. This lesson expands their understanding of edible plants.


10 minutes

To begin this lesson, I call one table at a time to sit on the floor like scientists. This means that they are ready to listen and learn. I can tell by how they are sitting and I don't begin until they are ready. They love science, so it's not difficult to get them sitting appropriately quickly.

 I explain to the kids that they will be sorting edible plants. I give them the following rules:

  • Only SORT the plants...they are NOT to be eaten today.
  • Talk as a table and decide together how you will sort the plants based on what you see.
  • Every person at the table will record how you sorted the plants and how many of each you have in each category.

In the tubs:

lemon grass


artichoke, with the spikes removed


Chinese daikon

lychee fruit

jack fruit

taro leaves


If you don't want to pay for the produce, and you cannot get it donated, you can use full-image cards instead. See resources

I call the table leader up one at a time to take a plant tub to their table. Once every table has a tub on it, I dismiss one table at a time to go sit at their table and begin sorting. I do it this way so they all begin at the same time and one group doesn't finish way ahead of the others.

As the groups sort their edible plants, I roam the room and answer questions and assist as needed. 


10 minutes

I have the kids leave their sorting on their table and have them regroup on the floor. I first elicit information from students to begin the formation of an explanation. I ask them the following questions:

  • How did you sort your edible plants?
  • Why did you sort them that way?
  • What things did you notice about the different plants?
  • What parts of the different plants do you think might be edible?

I first ask the question and give the kids think time. I then have them turn and share their thoughts with their floor partner. 

I do it this way because you children can think and they can be taught to deduce, induce and make connections, to a minimal extent. I believe that young children should be taught the basic skill of how to make connects and solve problems. They can contribute to the explanation of a give exploration by communicating their experiences. I record the information as the students share and we refer to it again at the end of the lesson.

I then read the book, The Vegetables We Eat, by Gail Gibbons. As I read the book, I stop on pages that draw the kids' interest (hands fly up), like finding out broccoli is a flower. We take a moment at those spots to talk about what we've learned and what surprised us.


10 minutes

I have the kids continue to sit on the floor as I explain the evaluation task to the kids. I hold up a copy of the sorting sheet they are going to do. I explain to the kids that now that they know what parts of a plant the different foods are from, they are going to sort them into categories by cutting and gluing them under the matching heading. 

When they are finished cutting and gluing them in place, the kids count how may items are in each column and write the number at the bottom; this completes the math connection to sorting and counting. 

When the kids are finished sorting, the kids are regrouped on the floor and the share their work with their floor partner. They check to see if they have any differences in the sorting and discuss their thinking if they do. 

Once everyone has had a chance to compare and discuss their work with their partner, I pull three name sticks from the name stick can to share their discussion and understanding with the whole class. This saves time while allowing everyone to be heard by someone, which is important to young children. 


10 minutes

The extension for this lesson is a take home reader about the plants we eat. If I don't have time for the kids to cut and staple the pages in order during the science lesson, I incorporate it into the reading block. 

Procedure to introduce the reader:

  1. Teacher reads, they they track with finger
  2. Kids read with the teacher, still tracking with finger
  3. Kids read independently to their partner, each partner takes a turn while the other tracks

This take home reader supports learning and serves as a home-school connection piece. It supports learning by extending the lesson and crossing into Language Arts. Most students can read it themselves; those struggling with reading can have assistance at home. 

I tell the kids that the will get a treat in the morning if they read the book to their family and get it signed on the back by a parent after they read it.