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Edible Plant Parts Relay

Students play a game to learn the different parts of different types of common food plants.

What humans eat as different fruit and vegetables are actually parts of plants:

  • Roots hold the plant in the ground, especially when it’s windy. They also soak up water and nutrients for the plant. Examples: carrots, turnips, radishes.
  • Bulbs are underground stems that store lots of food in their leaves. Examples: leek, onions, garlic.
  • Tubers are underground stems that are swollen with stored nutrients. Examples: potatoes, sweet potatoes.
  • Leaves catch the sunlight and make food for the plant. Leaves also let water and gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of the plant. Examples: lettuce, cabbage, spinach.
  • Fruits are made by the flower parts and have seeds inside them. Examples: tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, oranges, apples, grapes, string beans.
  • Seeds store food inside for the plant embryo and grow into mature plants. Examples: sunflower seeds, coconuts (one of the world’s biggest seeds), sesame seeds, poppy seeds, coffee beans, lima beans.
  • Stems help plants stand up and move food and water to all of the other parts. Example: asparagus.
  • Petioles are special stems that hold the leaves. Examples: celery, rhubarb.

Objectives

  • Identify the parts of a plant.

Materials

  • Per Class:
    plant parts (or photos): at least 5 different kinds (one tuber, one stem, one leaf etc.)
    plastic bags
    5 bins (or 1 bin per plant part type)
    plant part labels
    open area to run

Key Questions

  • What does each part do for the plant?
  • Why are stems longer in some plants?
  • Why are some leaves different shapes?
  • Do we eat more than one part of some plants?

What To Do

Preparation

  1. Make up five veggie bags. Each bag should contain at least one plant part from each category.
  2. Mark a start line at one end of the room.
  3. At the other end of the room, put the bins out on tables. Label each bin with a different plant part.

Relay Game

  1. Divide the class into five teams. Each team gets a veggie bag.
  2. Give the teams a few minutes to discuss the plant parts that they have been given.
  3. Each group lines up at the start.
  4. The first student in each line takes a plant part from the veggie bag and races to put the plant part in the appropriate bin.
  5. These students return to the start line to tag the next student on their team.
  6. The relay continues until all the plant parts have been sorted into bins.
  7. Review the contents of the bins with the students and discuss the placement of any confusing items.
  8. Have students taste the fruits and vegetables (or make a salad or a stew).

Extensions

  • Visit a produce store and identify the plant parts that you see.
  • Create silly fantasy plants by combining plant parts. For example, broccoli flowers with celery stems, spinach leaves with beet roots. Snack on your creations
  • Explore local edible native plants in your area.

Other Resources

“Going Wild! Teaching about Wild Products” from BC’s Coastal Rainforests.

Tomatosphere | Parts of a Plant