Eat 'Em Up
In this lesson, students will review the plant parts that they eat, including roots, stems, flowers, leaves, fruit, and seeds. Students will choose a favorite fruit or vegetable to feature in a healthy recipe and prepare it with their families.
Essential File (map, chart, picture, or document)
agriculture: the science and business of growing crops and raising livestock
commodity: fruits, vegetables, nuts, or grains as a unit that are bought or sold
farmer: a person who produces food, fiber, or plants for others to use
nutrient: a chemical component of food that is essential, in some quantity, to a living organism
Background Agricultural Connections
This lesson is part of a series called, Edible Plant Parts. These lessons allow students and teachers to examine the six basic plant parts—roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds—in a unique way. Through hands-on activities, students will learn about the different plant parts, as well as how to include fruits and vegetables into their daily meals as part of a healthy diet. Students will also learn about agriculture and the people who produce our food. The remaining lessons can be found at the following links:
- Why People Need Plants
- Dig 'Em Up
- Snappy Stems
- Luscious Leaves
- Fabulous Flowers
- Freshest Fruits
- Supreme Seeds
- Edible Plant Game
- Eat 'Em Up
Farmers produce an abundance of fresh produce that provides us with many options for healthy meals. Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of the nutrients students need for healthy growth and development. In order to get the recommended daily value of fruits and vegetables, the USDA recommends that children between the ages of 4 and 8 consume approximately 1-1½ cups of fruit and 1½ cups of vegetables per day. For children between the ages of 9 and 13, the USDA recommends 1½ cups of fruit and 2-2½ cups of vegetables per day. A visit to the supermarket or farmers market will showcase the variety of produce that is available and the different plant parts that are harvested for consumption.
The following list provides some examples of edible plant parts:
Interest Approach - Engagement
- Review with your class what the purpose is of each plant part. Review roots, stems, flowers, leaves, fruits, and seeds.
- List each of the plant parts on the board and ask students to list a food for each plant part. Use the table in the Background Agricultural Connections section of the lesson as a guide.
- Visit your local produce department and ask if there are any items that could be donated or purchased at a discount for display in your classroom. Gather a variety of vegetables that fit into the root, stem, flower, leaf, fruit, and seed categories. Spread these fruits and vegetables out on a table in your classroom. Invite students to inspect the samples. As a class, organize the produce into categories based on what part of the plant we eat.
- Discuss USDA nutrition recommendations with your students. A healthy diet for children between the ages of 4 and 8 includes approximately 1-1½ cups of fruit and 1½ cups of vegetables per day. For children between the ages of 9 and 13, the USDA recommends 1½ cups of fruit and 2-2½ cups of vegetables per day. Emphasize to your students that they have many choices to help them meet the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables, and that healthy eating makes us feel good and gives us energy to grow, learn, and play.
- Explain that the class will be going to the computer lab so each student can look up a recipe featuring a favorite fruit or vegetable. Once they have found their recipe, students will go home and prepare the recipe with an adult family member and share it with their family during a meal.
- In the computer lab, give students the following step-by-step instructions once they have logged on to http://harvestofthemonth.cdph.ca.gov/
- Click on the large purple icon called “Download Monthly Elements” in the upper-right corner.
- Choose a favorite fruit or vegetable from the fall, winter, spring, or summer column and click on it.
- Click on the PDF for “Family Newsletter” (Choose English or Spanish).
- Find the recipe on the Family Newsletter.
- Print or write down the recipe to prepare at home.
- Provide students with the Edible Plant Parts Parent Letter and the printed recipe instruction sheet for preparing their recipe at home. The parent letter will need to be signed by an adult family member to show that the recipe was prepared and served to the family.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Farmers grow many different types of plants that we eat.
- Fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy diet.
- We eat many different parts of a plant, including fruit, leaves, stems, flowers, seeds, and roots.
- Instead of buying fruits and vegetables for display, draw columns on the board for roots, stems, flowers, leaves, fruits, and seeds and ask students to help you fill in examples of each.
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In the computer lab, allow your students to explore the “Kids’ Place” section of MyPlate. There are a number of fun and educational games and activities that teach students about the benefits of healthy eating and exercise habits.
This lesson update was funded by a grant from the Network for a Healthy California.
Executive Director: Judy Culbertson
Illustrator: Erik Davison
Layout & Design: Nina Danner
Copy Editor: Leah Rosasco
Suggested Companion Resources
- Edible Plant Game
- Fruit Bowl
- Good Enough to Eat: A Kid's Guide to Food and Nutrition
- Grandma Lena's Big Ol' Turnip
- How Food gets from Farms to Store Shelves
- Las calabacitas de Zora (Spanish Edition)
- Las espinacas de Sylvia (Spanish Edition)
- Oliver's Fruit Salad
- Plants Feed Me
- Sylvia's Spinach
- The Fruits We Eat
- The Giant Carrot
- What's in the Garden?
- Zora's Zucchini
- Dig In! Posters
- Parts of a Strawberry Plant Poster
- Plant Part Chart
- From the Field to the Farmers Market
- Edible Gardening: Growing Your Own Vegetables, Fruits, and More