National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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Plant Tops and Bottoms
K - 2
Students will identify where fruits and vegetables belong on a MyPlate diagram and describe the major parts of plants - roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruits according to if they are produced on the top or bottom of a plant.
- Variety of produce items (asparagus, strawberries, carrots, cabbage)
- USDA's MyPlate Diagram
- Picture of a plant (the Dry Edible Bean Card would be a good example)
- Variety of vegetable and fruits that are roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits. If actual vegetables and fruits are not available use pictures.
- Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens
- Plant Parts We Eat worksheet
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
roots: absorb water and anchor the plant; examples include radishes, beets, carrots, parsnips
stems: transport water and food throughout the plant; examples include asparagus, celery
leaves: soak up the sun's energy and produce food for the plant; examples include lettuce, cabbage, spinach, mustard greens, kale
flowers: allow the plant to reproduce by producing seeds; edible examples include broccoli, cauliflower
fruit: hold the seeds of a plant; examples include eggplant, tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- A good diet and regular physical activity can build strong bones and a strong body. Completing chores such as taking out the trash, walking the dog, and raking leaves can count as physical activity to help strengthen your bones.
- Replacing sodas and sugary drinks with water will help you reduce calories and become fuller to create a healthier diet. Cans of 12-ounce sodas can contain as much as 10 teaspoons of sugar.
- Selecting vegetables that are bright in color such as red, orange, or dark green provide more essential vitamins and minerals. Eating foods such as spinach, acorn squash, cherry tomatoes, and sweet potatoes will brighten up your plate with these vivid colors.
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Collect a variety of produce that represents different parts of the plant. Items could include asparagus (stem), strawberries (fruit), carrots (root), and cabbage (leaves). More food items are listed in the Background Agriculture Connections.
- Display these vegetables and fruits and ask the following questions.
- "Where have you seen these items before?" (grocery store, farmers market, gardens, fields)
- "What fruits and vegetables are your favorite to eat?" (answers will vary)
Activity 1: Plants = fruits and vegetables
- Display the vegetables and fruits used in the Motivator. Emphasize that these fruits and vegetables are grown and harvested by farmers.
- Display the USDA’s MyPlate diagram. Ask the following questions
- "Where do these food items fit on the MyPlate diagram?" (vegetables and fruits0
- "Why should we eat vegetables and fruits instead of candy bars or ice cream? (vegetables provide nutrients that help keep us healthy and keep the systems in our body working well. Vegetables can also help us fight disease and illness)
- Inform students that vegetables and fruits are plants. Draw or show a picture of the common parts of a plant
- Note: The dry edible beans card that is part of the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Commodity Cards is also a good example.
- Help students understand the major purpose of each part:
- Roots – absorbs water and nutrients, anchors plant, transports nutrients, & stores food
- Stem – transports water and food
- Leaves – soaks up the sun's energy, makes food
- Flower – produces seeds
- Fruit – holds seeds
- Go back to your display of vegetables and fruits. Ask for student volunteers or call on students to identify which part of the plant each vegetable or fruit represents. (Example: lettuce is a leaf, beets are roots, etc). Sort the vegetables and fruits into the five clear containers labeled with the major plant parts.
- Ask the students how we get all of these different plant parts to eat. (Farmers plant seeds, provide the seeds with water and sunlight, and the plants grow. Once the plants are fully grown they are picked or harvested. We can buy these plant parts at grocery stores, farmers markets or we can have a garden where we grow them ourselves.)
Activity 2: Plant Tops and Bottoms
- Show students the book Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens. Tell students that this book is about a rabbit and a bear who decided to grow some plants to eat. The title is Tops and Bottoms. Ask the students:
- "Which vegetables would be tops?" (stems, leaves, flowers)
- "Which vegetables would be bottoms?" (roots)
- Read the book Tops and Bottoms. At the conclusion of the book, ask the students:
- "What are some plants that have good “bottoms” to eat?"
- "What are some plants that have good “tops” to eat?"
- "What are some plants that have good “middles” to eat?"
- "How is the Hare similar to farmers who grow plants that we eat?" (The hare knows about the different parts of a plant and which ones we eat. He also knows how they should be grown and harvested.)
- "What lessons can we learn from the Bear?" (He is not knowledgeable about plant parts so he does not get as much healthy and tasty food as the Hare. He is also lazy. The story suggests that laziness will harvest little.)
- "How do the decisions that the Hare and Bear make impact their lives?" (Listen to students observations!)
- Have students complete the Plant Parts We Eat worksheet. This can serve as an assessment to determine the level of understanding the students gained on plant parts.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation:
At the conclusion of this activity, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits of some plants are edible. These plant-based foods need soil, water, and sunlight to produce their delicious and healthy food items.
- Farmers grow and harvest vegetables and fruits for us to eat.
- Eating vegetables and fruits provide a healthy diet labeled on the MyPlate diagram.
- Some plants have edible tops, middles, and bottoms.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Wash the vegetables and fruits thoroughly and have the students also wash their hands thoroughly. Prepare a plant parts salad or other healthy snack with the vegetables and fruits used in the lesson.
Obtain a variety of vegetable seeds representing the parts of a plant and have students plant them in small pots or cups with drainage holes. All that is needed is water and light and the seeds should sprout in one to two weeks.
Distribute copies of the school lunch menu for the week or month to the students. Ask them to identify the vegetables and fruits being served and determine whether they are a root, stem, leaf, fruit, or a flower.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Edible Plant Game (Activity)
- Jack & the Hungry Giant Eat Right with MyPlate (Book)
- Plants Feed Me (Book)
- The Apple Orchard Riddle (Book)
- The Reason for a Flower (Book)
- The Vegetable Alphabet Book (Book)
- Tops & Bottoms (Book)
- Food Models (Kit)
- Parts of a Strawberry Plant Poster (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- Plant Part Chart (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- What is a Fruit? What is a Vegetable? Bulletin Boards (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- Food Doesn't Grow in the Supermarket! (Multimedia)
- Jr. Sprout - Gardening (Booklets & Readers)
- Jr. Sprout - Healthy Eating (Booklets & Readers)
- Grow it Again (Teacher Reference)
- Junior Master Gardener Handbook (Teacher Reference)
- Junior Master Gardener Teacher & Leader Guide (Teacher Reference)
- Learn, Grow, Eat, and Go! (Teacher Reference)
- Steps to a Bountiful Kids' Garden (Teacher Reference)
- Producepedia (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Culture, Society, Economy & Geography
- Identify plants and animals grown or raised locally that are used for food, clothing, shelter, and landscapes (T5.K-2.d)
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
- Identify healthy food options (T3.K-2.a)
Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy
- Identify examples of feed/food products eaten by animals and people (T2.K-2.c)
Agriculture and the Environment
- Describe how farmers use land to grow crops and support livestock (T1.K-2.a)
Education Content Standards
Economics Standard 1: Scarcity
ObjectiveIdentify what they gain and what they give up when they make choices.
Economics Standard 2: Decision Making
ObjectiveMake effective decisions as consumers, producers, savers, investors, and citizens.
Health Standard 1: Comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health.
1.2.1Identify that healthy behaviors impact personal health.
1-LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
1-LS1-1Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.
K-LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
K-LS1-1Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.