Earlier in the week, we requested that the students bring in carrots, apples, and tomatoes to further our study on fruits and vegetables. One day in class, we cut the carrots, apples, and tomatoes in many different ways and placed them on the light board. Our goal with this activity was to encourage the students to investigate and question the qualities of these fruits and vegetable.
The questions the children asked are as follows:
“Do carrots contain seeds?”
“Do apples have seeds?”
“Can you eat tomato seeds?”
After looking at the carrots on top of the light board and seeing that they don’t have seeds, the children were inspired to find out the source of the carrot. “If carrots do not have seeds, how do they grow?” We included a few of the responses below:
“Carrots grow underground.”
“They grow from the dirt.”
“They grow from the rain.”
“They grow from the water.”
After receiving all of these responses, we placed a long sheet of white paper and provided pencils for all of the children. We asked them to show us how carrots grow. As they drew, we practiced sounding out and spelling the word “Carrot”. (These drawings are now located above the block area in the classroom.)
The children brought four different sizes of apples as well and we wanted to incorporate them into the light board investigation. The children were able to compare and contrast the different sizes by observation. The children took this study on size a step further by lining the apples next to each other in the hallway and creating a chart with their hypothesis of the size of each apple. The children used descriptive words to describe the size of the apples, some included: BIG BIG BIG, BIG, LARGE, TOO BIG, MEDIUM, SMALL, LITTLE, and SHORT. Feel free to view this piece of work in the hallway by the mosaic area!
To continue on this measuring and documentation expression, we created four different kinds of charts. These four charts were inspired by all of the different things the children learned about throughout this activity. The questions included:
“Which fruits and vegetables contain seeds?”
“Which fruits and vegetables do not contain seeds?”
“What seeds can you eat, what seeds can you not eat?”
“What seeds are soft? Which seeds are hard?”
“What seeds are small? What seeds are big?”
While a handful of our food-related projects and activites focus on the taste of the foods, we tried to get the children to focus on the qualities of the foods themselves and encourage them to expand their vocabulary by describing them. During this activity, we worked on sounding out words, spelling, grammar (tomato, tomatoes), writing, and drawing each of the fruits and vegetable.
The children engaged in a collaborative effort to explore these foods by asking each other questions and discussing the answers. The incredible part was when one question sparked two or three more questions! The Reggio Emilia approach places a strong focus on social collaboration with each child having his or her own thoughts and questions valued, (where the adult is not the giver of knowledge). This allows children to search out the knowledge, develop hypotheses, test their hypothesize, and discuss with other children the results.
Moreover, this activity introduced the foods in a new way through sensory play. An apple is no longer a red fruit, but it’s a red fruit that has seeds, a white inside, but it’s different from a tomato that is red and has seeds too. An apple is harder than a tomato and can be really big, kind of big, big, medium, small, short, and tiny. The children came to these conclusions by observing the foods, playing with apple slices and apples in their whole forms, rolling the seeds around in their fingers (which improves fine motor skills) and seeing how tomatoes leave a trail of “juice” while apples leave none!
We encouraged the children to express their knowledge of the carrots, tomatoes, and apples in order to reflect on their experiences. By drawing, writing the word, and practicing sounding it out, it forms a connection between their questions, observations, and how they can use language to investigate and explore.