To celebrate the fall and Thanksgiving season, the children had an opportunity to explore sweet potatoes! We wanted to expose them to several forms of sweet potatoes, so we boiled the potatoes, cut them in half, and served them to the children.
We love any opportunity to let the children explore, and lately we’ve been focusing on food exploration by encouraging the children to play with whole, sliced, and diced foods! We like to give the children the opportunity to sample different types of fruits and vegetables because this helps them become open to try new things and experience and appreciate the different tastes and textures of foods.
Some of the children immediately began smushing the sweet potato in their hands by making a fist and letting the orange potato ooze between their fingers. The majority of the children tasted the sweet potato and enjoyed it, while some added butter and said they liked it better that way. The children soon began discussing how the color of the inside of the potato is orange and the outside is brown, noting on how the inside tastes “better” than the outside. Together we discussed where sweet potatoes come from, what they taste like, how to prepare them, and described the texture of the potato in depth.
This activity was a wonderful sensory experience for the children. They were able to feed themselves using spoons, break the potato, and work on their fine motor skills during this process. Moreover, this exploration was a unique opportunity to compare and contrast potatoes we are used to seeing (white insides) with sweet potatoes and talk about the differences. We used this as an opportunity to work on their language acquisition and encourage them to describe what they were feeling, seeing, tasting, smelling, and more! It’s amazing because without visually seeing the orange sweet potato, experiencing the sweet taste, or feeling it’s softness, the children wouldn’t have had an opportunity to compare it with the potatoes they’re familiar with. An important aspect in the Reggio Emilia philosophy is that children are encouraged to have a relationship with other children and with material items. This relationship allows for peer teaching through verbal and non-verbal communication.
By creating a community for them to discuss their ideas, reactions, and thoughts to this new vegetable, the children were able to bond and engage in social interactions while learning and collaborating together. It’s always rewarding to hear a child describe something and have another chirp in and agree, or to have another child become inspired by hearing someone else’s thoughts.