Fruits Vs. Vegetables

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Students will be able to explain the difference between a fruit and a vegetable based on the information they have obtained and evaluated.

Big Idea

Sorting fruits and vegetables helps students understand some basic characteristics of plants.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.”

By saying “walking feet” I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I ask them, “Who can give the name of a fruit?”

I select several students who are following the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand to respond to the question.

“Those were all good examples of a fruit. Now who can tell me the name of a vegetable?”

Again I select several students who are following the correct classroom procedure of raising their hand.

“Once again those were all good examples.”

“Did you know that one of the biggest food groups we should see on a healthy plate is the fruits and vegetable group?”

“Today we are going to obtain the information we need to determine if we are eating a fruit or a vegetable.” 


I use this brief discussion to engage my students. Through this discussion they will begin thinking about fruits and vegetables they eat. The students may begin to access prior knowledge or generate questions about what is fruit or a vegetable. 


45 minutes

The first thing I do is have the students take a seat around the edge of the rug using the “Edge of the Rug” song.

Once the students are seated in a u around the edge of the rug I seat at the open end of the u and lay out the items I have prepared on a tray.

On the tray there is a sweet potato, a carrot, a lettuce, a tomato, a cucumber, an orange, an apple, a banana and a kiwifruit.

I also have two more trays, a knife, a roll of paper towels and a bottle of hand sanitizer.

“Boys and girls before we begin this lesson I am going to pass around the hand sanitizer. While I am talking I want you to take a small squirt of hand sanitizer and clean your hands.”

I pass the hand sanitizer to the first child on my left and begin the lesson.

“On my tray here I have some fruits and some vegetables. I am going to set my other two trays one on each side of the tray I have here. One is labeled “fruit” (I point to it) and the other is labeled “vegetable” (I point to it).”

“The first thing I am going to do is use the Fair Sticks to select students to come and place one item on either the fruit or the vegetable tray.”

I use the fair sticks to select students to come up and select one item off the main tray. The student then places the item they chose on either the fruit or vegetable tray based on what they think.

Students working on the initial sorting of fruits and vegetables.

Results of our initial sort.

Once all of the items have been sorted I tell the students, “Now I am going to give you two pieces of information. One is about the characteristics, or features that make up a fruit, and then the characteristics, or features that make up a vegetable. Once we have those two pieces of information I will ask you if we need to make any changes to our trays up here at the front.”

“A fruit comes from a flowering plant and it contains the seeds of the plant either inside or on its skin. A fruit often has fleshy or dry tissue.”

Discussing the features of a fruit.

“A vegetable comes from a seed and can grow above or below the ground. It does not have seeds inside and it does not develop from a flower.”

I pause and let that information sink in.

“Okay now that you have heard some new information is there any changes we need to make to our trays up here?”

I select a student with their hand raised.

“Alex you are right; we need to change the cucumber from the vegetable tray to the fruit tray. Why?”

I allow the student to explain why.

“Great explanation; the cucumber has seeds inside so it is a fruit. Here is a picture of what a cucumber plant looks like. You can see the flower it grows from and when I cut it open you can see the seeds inside.” I cut the cucumber open for the students to see the seeds inside.

I repeat this process until all of the items are sorted onto the correct trays. Students often tell you there are not seeds inside a banana so you will need to explain how the seeds are very small and look like black dots. Cut it open and allow the students to use a magnifying glass to observe the seeds inside.

Working on our second sort after discussing the features of a vegetable.


After all the items have been sorted correctly explain to the students that at one of the work stations today they will be sorting images of a variety of fruits and vegetables into the correct category.

The images and sorting mat I use are adapted from a resource I found on the internet - File Folder Games. I adapted the resource to suit my needs. I take pictures of the students sorting work and use the photo as evidence of student learning. This is one way my school is working towards using less paper in the classroom.  

“Room 203 at one of your work stations today you will see a bag of images that looks like this (I hold one up for the students to see). You will also see a sorting mat that looks like this one (I hold one up for the students to see). It will be your job to place your name stick at the top of the sorting mat. Next, take the bag with the images and decide which ones are fruits and which ones are vegetables. Place the images under the correct category on the sorting mat. This heading says “fruit” (I emphasize the /f/ sound), this heading says “vegetables” (I emphasize the /v/ sound). When you are done let me know and I will come over to take a picture of your work and discuss your sorting”

“Does everyone understand what to do?”

“Can someone repeat the directions back to me?”

I select a student who I know will give a reliable response because I do not want to confuse the students with misinformation.        


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go have some fruit/vege sorting fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity.

I set the time on the visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.

Student sorting sample 1 - This student sorted fairly accurately. It is interesting to note that even after our discussion students still consider the eggplant and the pea a vegetable. In fairness to the student the pea is actually a legume (a fruit that splits along the sides when ripe to release the seeds within - just like a bean and a peanut). 

Student sorting sample 2 - This student decided the pea was a fruit but still put the egg plant on the vegetable side. We discussed this as a group later since so many students put it on the vegetable side. I think next year I will bring in an egg plant as an example. 


In this activity the students are exploring how to evaluate each item based on the information they have just obtained through the lesson we shared on the rug. The students have to access the obtained information and recall the characteristics which make up a fruit and a vegetable. Then using the obtained information they must evaluate which item belongs in which category on the sorting sheet; thus communicating what they know. 


At one of the other stations the students are selecting images to put on their “plate” to represent the different food groups (Health).

Student working on building a healthy plate.

Student sample of a healthy plate 1.                           Student sample of a healthy plate 2.


At another station students are taste testing a variety of fruits and vegetables (Health/Science).

Sampling fruits and vegetables.                                   Recording our likes and dislikes.

Taste Test Recording Sheet


At another station students are using the counting jars to count and record plastic fruit manipulatives. This helps the students practice matching a number to a given amount (Math).


These activities provide the students with the opportunity to apply and expand their understanding of the concepts within new contexts and situations thus elaborating on the information they have been presented with. 


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, place your work in the correct bin and use walking feet to take a spot on your dot. Walking feet, go.”

Students know to place their work in either the “finished work” bin or the “under construction” bin. Work in the “under construction” bin can be completed later in the day when the student finds they have spare time to fill in.


Once the students are seated on their spot on the rug I tell them that their exit ticket for today is to share with the class one of their favorite fruits.  

“For today’s exit ticket you need to share with us one of your favorite fruits. Think back to the character rustics that make up a fruit and then think of one you can share with the class.”

“Who can recall what characteristics make a fruit?”

I select a student who is following the correct classroom procedure of raising their hand to respond to the question.”

“Excellent memory Finneas; a fruit has seeds and comes from a flowering plant.”

“Now that we have reminded everyone of the characteristics, I want you to think for 30 seconds of the fruit that you are going to share.”

I pretend to time for 30 seconds allowing the student to think of their responses.

“Okay time is up. Remember when you have shared your favorite fruit with us you can use the hand sanitizer and get your snack.”

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on a fruit together.

Exit ticket of your favorite fruit.

 I use this exit ticket process as a way for the students to communicate one of the pieces of information they learned by explaining to me one vegetable they know and one fruit. Through this explanation process I can see who is able to obtain information and retain the information learned on a given topic. 

Later in the day we watch a short video called Food Groups from the Brain Pop Jr. website. This video informs the students about the different food groups and the importance of making good nutritional choices. 


15 minutes

Teaching Challenge - How can I have students better model their scientific ideas both visually and textually? 

In order to assess if my students have successfully understood and retained the information presented in the lesson I set out an evaluation task for morning work the next day.

As the students arrive I have the task written on the morning work board in the classroom. The task states, “Draw and label two vegetables and two fruits.”

The students will record the information in their science journal.

When the student has completed the task of drawing and labeling two vegetables and two fruits they can bring their work to me and we will go over their choices together.

I will ask the students to explain the characteristics they looked for when making their choices. For example, “Why did you choose to draw a tomato in the fruit section?” “Why did you draw lettuce in the vegetable section?”

I will write the student responses directly into their science journal to keep as a record of their learning.

Based on the student responses I can judge whether the student has retained the information learned from the lesson on the previous day or if they need to have a review lesson in a small group setting. In the small group setting we would play a sorting game after reviewing the characteristics that make up a fruit or a vegetable.  

Student sample of morning work journal 1 - This student had a good grasp of the characteristics that made an item a fruit or a vegetable. The student was able to tell me that the broccoli and lettuce were vegetables because they were "green with stems and leaves." She also told me the orange and blueberries were fruits because they "have seeds and come from flowers. I know because we have blueberries in our backyard." 

Student sample of morning work journal 2

Student sample of morning work journal 3

Student sample of morning work journal 4

Student sample of morning work journal 5