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Gardening – Growing Goodness!

Young people will have an understanding of where fruits and vegetables grow, as well as knowing how to plant a garden of their own.

Ages

3-8 Years Old

Duration

45 Minutes

What You Need

Resources

Healthy Families Newsletter

English (pdf)

Spanish (pdf)

To find out how this lesson fits Physical Education and Health Education standards click here.

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand where healthy food comes from. The youth will discuss what kind of plants produce their favorite fruits and vegetables. Then they will try out gardening themselves by planting some bean seeds and watching the plants grow.

Introduction

  1. Ask the young people where our food comes from. Give the youth a couple of minutes to share with another person where they think certain fruits and vegetables grow.  Discuss their thoughts as a group. You may want to mention the following points:
    • All food has to “grow” somewhere, whether it’s an animal for meat, grains for processing into flour and other products, or artificial flavorings made in a lab to mimic whole food flavors found in nature. Artificial flavorings and colors are used in some candies and flavored drink mixes.
    • It’s good to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. Fruits and vegetables are the easiest type of food to find in a natural state. That means that not much has been done to them before they get to us. Foods that come in boxes and can be stored on shelves for months, for example, have been processed and have had things added to them to preserve them long before they get to us, in particular lots of them may have added sugar.
    • The sugar that is in fruits is different from the sugar in candy. The sugar in fruit is a natural sugar that is not made from many different chemicals like those found in candy, cookies, cereal and other sweetened treats, that’s known as processed sugar. Foods direct from the earth, no matter how sweet, are the healthiest foods for people to eat. So just where do our fruits and vegetables come from? Fruits and vegetables grow in many different ways. They can grow on trees like apples do, or they can grow underground from a root like a carrot. They also grow on vines and bushes.
  2. Download the interactive whiteboard activity from the What You Need section above. The goal of the activity is to match up the fruit or vegetable with the growing location whether it’s underground, above ground on the surface, or on a tree.
  3. Were they able to match certain fruits and vegetables to the type of plant they grow on such as underground, on a vine or in a tree?

Activity: Plant a Garden

  1. Talk about: Why are gardens healthy? Growing a garden can be beneficial in more ways than just getting healthy food. Gardening can help people relax. It can also be a time for family bonding if you work together in the garden. Gardening can even be a type of physical activity. Furthermore, seeds are cheap to buy, so why not grow your own food and save some money?

  2. Plant a mini garden. Have the young people plant their own green beans. You can split the youth into groups of four so they can plant one as a group, or you can hand out clear plastic cups to all young people to plant their own. However you wish to do this, you will need to handout a clear plastic cup (16 ounces) to everyone who will be planting seeds. Follow these steps for a successful gardening project:

    • Each young person or group will need to write their names on the cup so they know whose is whose.

    • Next use a thumbtack to poke a few holes in the bottom of the cup to let the extra water drain.

    • Once this is done, each cup will need to be loosely packed half way with potting soil. Make sure the soil is moist/damp.

    • Then place 5 to 6 seeds near the side of the cup so the youth are able to see them grow through the clear cup.

    • Cover the seeds with more moist soil to the top of the cup, and lightly pack it.

    • Place plastic wrap over the cups to help keep in the moisture, and place near a window for sunlight.

    • Once you see the beans starting to sprout, remove the plastic wrap and water as needed.

    • Continue to keep the cup in the sun.

    • The cups may need to be put into some sort of tray so the water doesn’t leak.

Activity: Veggie Scramble

If time allows, hand out the Veggie Scramble worksheet. Allow the youth time to complete the word puzzles, then share the correct answers from the Veggie Scramble Answer Key.  This worksheet may also be sent home as an enrichment activity.

Conclusion

You can keep the cups in the classroom and note their progress. This provides great informal, ongoing opportunities to talk about nutrition and health. Or you can have the young people bring plants home and care for them there. In that case you can, if you like, ask for periodic reports on how they are growing. Either way, once their plant has grown big enough, young people can transfer their seedlings into a big garden or larger pot at home!

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue discussing fresh, healthy foods at home.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog(s)

Additional Instructor Resources

What Kind of Sugar is in Your Food? Handout – (Russian) – (Somali) – (Spanish)

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