Teaching Children About Foods That Come From Plants
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables (plant-based foods) is an important nutrition concept to teach young children. Re-growing a carrot top is an easy and inexpensive project that captures children’s interest in learning about fruits and vegetables.
Growing carrot tops takes up very little space and offers children nice visual results – a leafy green sprout that usually grows in 7 – 14 days. As children take care of their carrot tops, talk with them about healthy foods like fruits and vegetables which look almost the same when they are eaten as when they were growing.
Note: The following carrot top project is included in the Healthy Al, Healthy Me program, a 7-lesson curriculum that teaches young children about healthy eating and physical activity. Several lessons teach children which foods are healthy choices that will help them grow strong and feel great.
Growing Carrot Tops Can Spark Scientific Exploration
Begin with at least 4-5 carrot tops, rather than just one. Occasionally, a carrot top will not sprout. Having several carrot tops better ensures that children will see a sprout even if one carrot turns out to be a dud. Some carrot tops sprout much more quickly than others. Predicting, tracking, and charting the differences in growth create valuable learning opportunities for children.
Instructions for Growing Carrot Tops
- Full-size carrots with visible brown circle at the top (not baby carrots)
- A knife
- A cutting board
- Clear plastic cups or jars
- Marbles or small stones to cover the bottom of each cup or jar
Cut a 1 to 2 inch piece off the top end of each carrot that includes the brown circle. Slicing the carrots ahead of time can interfere with sprouting. Children can arrange the stones to line the bottom of the containers and add just enough water to cover the stones. Place the carrot tops on the stones with the brown circle facing up. Make sure the bottom of each carrot piece is in water. Assembly is complete!
Carrot tops need light in order to sprout; a window sill is ideal. Keep the water level fairly consistent – just enough water to cover the stones or marbles. Sometimes if a carrot top goes without water for several days it can be revived by adding water, although its growth slows down. Once a carrot top gets completely dry and shriveled, growth is quite unlikely.
Working Together to Grow the Carrot Tops
Carrot top projects require adult help and supervision, but include plenty of hands-on learning for children. Groups of 2 or 3 children can assemble and look after their own carrot top. Children can label their cups and help each other remember to check the water level daily. Encourage children to watch for tiny roots that look like white threads growing from the sides of the carrot. This is a sign that sprouting is on the way! As the carrot tops sprout and grow, remind children that many of the healthiest foods grow on or are a part of plants. Discuss other foods that come from plants.
More Projects To Encourage Children’s Interest In Healthy Foods
Other ideas for sparking children’s interest in learning about foods that grow on plants or are parts of plants can be found on our AcornDreams Healthy Al, Healthy Me Pinterest board. There are other fun and educational projects there, too. Edible plants like lettuce, wheatgrass, and bean sprouts are also quick-growing and interesting for children.
We’d love to see pictures or hear about your projects that teach children about healthy foods that come from plants. Happy growing!