Have you ever forgotten about potatoes then found them several weeks later full of sprouts? In this article I’m going to give you several lesson ideas all sparked from finding sprouted potatoes in my pantry. What better way to learn science then to turn a forgot food item into a fun learning opportunity.
Finding Sprouted Potatoes
To complete this activity you will need some sprouted potatoes. If you don’t have any ask around to friends and family. Or visit a local farm stand and ask if they have any left over from last year that have sprouted.
You can even place some in a dark place like I did and forget about them for a few months. Turning this into a long term data collection activity. How fun would it be to hide away a few different varieties of potatoes and compare the growth of each!
Sourcing Seed Potatoes
Seed potatoes can be found online or at a local nursery or farm store. I purchased some online to plant in my garden this year. You can use seed potatoes for this activity, you just might want to do a process called chitting first. Where you place the seed potatoes in a sunny windowsill. After a few weeks they will have sprouts. Then you are ready to start observing sprouted potatoes.
Don’t Stress About the Content
If you are excited to teach your child science, but feel overwhelmed by the content, do not stress. As a parent or teacher, you do not have to have all of the answers. I repeat, it is okay to learn alongside your child.
Sharing your love of learning is one of the most important skills that you can impress upon a young child. It has taken me a while to figure this out, but trust me, there is value in learning as you go.
Integrating Math, Art, and Language Arts
Lets say you found some sprouted potatoes and you are looking for something to do with them. Turing your discovery into a science themed lesson for your children can be a great way to turn an accident into a learning opportunity.
Observing sprouted potatoes, not only integrates science, but math, art, and even language arts. Children benefit from learning science, when it happens organically. Some kids will find sprouted potatoes fascinating while others will think of it has down right gross.
Either way, they are making that connection between the food that they eat and how it is actually grown in the real world. Guaranteed the next time they see one at the grocery store or farm stand they will remember that a potato is actually one part of a plant.
Lessons and Activities
Each of these activities can be adapted for children of all ages. Toddlers up to high school aged kids can benefit from these lessons. There are no hard and fast rules for how to do this. You have the freedom to make these activities as formal or informal as you would like.
Make a Drawing of the Sprouted Potato
Never underestimate the power of stopping and making detailed observations in science. Noticing fine details is not only a science specific skill, but an important life skill.
Take out the colored pencils or paint. Abstract drawings can be a fun way to conduct this activity without making it too formal. Even if their drawings are not a perfect representation of the sprouted potato, children are still practicing important skills.
Very young children up to high school aged kids can benefit from this activity. Older children can make a more formal sketch. Or keep it simple and let them get creative and make an unique art piece.
If you are looking to tie in those science specific vocabulary terms, research and add labels to your drawings. Typically, scientific sketches are created using pencil then colored pencils are used to add color. Labels are then added along with lines pointing to the part.
You may be surprised to find out that a potato, which is typically called a root vegetable, is actually an enlarged stem. A potato is not a root, but a tuber.
I eat potatoes all the time, and I just figured that out recently. Again, learning is a life long skill! Don’t shy away from an activity, just because you do not know all of the information.
Labels such as tuber, eye, stem, and leaf can be added to the sketch. Researching and finding more out about the function of a tuber would be a great way to extend the activity.
Using a ruler is an easy way to integrate math skills. Estimating, making accurate and precise measurements are skills kids can be practice. Younger kids can compare the size of the parts to other every day objects. While older students can strengthen their ruler reading skills.
If you have some string on hand, you can measure circumference. The possibilities are endless. Don’t feel that you have to provide all of the instruction. Ask your children to come up with ten measurements and see what they can come up with on their own.
- Comparing the size of the stems and finding an average length can also be done.
- The number of sprouts or eyes can be counted.
- If you have more than one sprouted potato, you can collect some data from each.
- Count the number of sprouts and find the average number of sprouts per potato.
Write a Story or Creative Writing Piece
Kids of all ages love to create stories. Again, there is freedom with this and I would encourage you to take your child’s lead. Some kids will want to focus on a creative writing piece where they write a fictional story. While others can write the process that a potato goes through while completing its life cycle.
I can picture a comic book style writing piece were the potato has come to life as a creature. Or a more realistic piece were a child writes about their experience growing and planting potatoes.
Extend the Activity with Research
To extend this activity I would suggest conducting some research to find out more about the growth of a potato plant. Ask around, a local farmer or gardener would be more than happy to explain to an interested child the parts of a potato plant.
Libraries or online articles are also wonderful resources. Online articles might require some decoding from an adult. As I had a hard time finding a kid friendly article that discusses the structure and function of the parts of a potato plant.
Here are a few article that I found online:
Making the Connection between the Food Kids Eat and the Garden
No matter what direction you and your child take when conducting this activity, there is opportunity to connect with the larger picture. Getting kids comfortable with growing food and knowing where their food comes. Even if your main focus is to make use of some sprouted potatoes in your pantry. Children will begin to make that connection.
An excellent way to extend this activity is to try growing some potatoes. Either use seed potatoes or give it a shot and try growing your sprouted ones. Potatoes can be grown on a balcony or in a small garden using pots. You never know, observing a sprouted potato may make a child interested in growing their own food.
Video resource for growing potatoes in pots by Homegrown Garden.
Thinking about observing sprouted potatoes with your kids? Let us know in the comments below.
Other Garden & Homesteading Themed Activities for Kids
- Learning Shapes with Backyard Chickens
- How to Practice Literacy with Kids: Reading a Seed Packet
- Starting Seeds with Toddlers