If your child is learning about plant parts in school, he might come home eager to explore your garden, or he might have a curiosity about plant roots that are edible. You can reinforce lessons on plant roots with educational and engaging interactive activities that enhance his understanding of how plants grow.
Reading About Plant Roots
Reading with your child about the roots of plants can help your child better understand how they work. For kids ages 4 and older, "Roots (Plant Parts Series)," by Vijaya Bodach, provides an introductory look at how roots help plants grow. For kids ages 6 and older, "Plant Stems & Roots," by David M. Schwartz, teaches kids about plant roots that we can eat, such as carrots, radishes and yams.
Exploring the Garden
Take your child to dig up edible plant roots from your backyard vegetable garden. If you don't have a garden, find a community vegetable garden or visit the garden of a friend who will allow you to dig up a few plants. Give your child a child-size gardening tool and show her how to dig up some of the plants to expose the edible roots. Show her the nonedible roots of other vegetables as well, such as lettuce and celery, so she can see how roots grow.
Roots in the Kitchen
Bring some edible plant roots home to get cooking in the kitchen with your child. You can make any number of dishes using plant roots such as carrots, potatoes, radishes, beets, turnip and sweet potatoes. Choose kid-friendly recipes that your child can help you make. One idea is cut up a bunch of root vegetables into bite-size pieces and let your child help you toss them with seasoning, olive oil and a little honey. Roast the vegetables until tender at about 375 degrees Fahrenheit. When they cool slightly, you can serve as a side dish or as a finger food snack. You could also make sweet potato fries by helping your child to peel and slice the potatoes into thin strips. Ensure that your child already knows how to use a small kitchen knife and supervise him closely. If he has not handled kitchen knives yet, cut them up yourself. Your child can help toss the fries in a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper or cinnamon before baking them at 450 F until they are crispy and golden brown.
Plant Root Learning Activities
Create games that help him remember the importance of plant roots and also what plant roots are edible. One idea is to set up a matching game where your child has to match the name of a plant with the picture of the plant's edible roots. Use index cards for the words and cut out pictures of various plant roots. For a hands-on activity, give your child a packet of seeds and a pot of soil to grow his own plant. Use a clear plastic container, with holes poked into the bottom, if possible. That way, your child can see the root system grow. If you choose an edible plant, choose something that grows in a pot well, such as cucumbers, peas, tomatoes and strawberries.