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Plant Parts You Eat

Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, and Barbara Tharp, MS.


Have students work in groups of 2-4 to conduct the activity. 

Materials per Student Group

  • Crayon or marker
  • Plastic, serrated knife  Piece of whole fruit, vegetable or grain (see Set-up)
  • Sheet of white construction or drawing paper, 9 in. x 12 in.


Bring enough different fruits, vegetables and grains to provide a different sample to each group of 2–4 students. Try to include at least one representative from each of the categories listed below. Fresh, whole examples are best.

  • Roots: examples include carrot, beet, radish, or sweet potato
  • Leaves: lettuce, spinach, or scallions (Students can observe that the fleshy bulb of the scallion or green onion is made up of overlapping leaf bottoms.)
  • Stems: asparagus (potato is a confusing example, except to discuss with students afterwards) or celery stalks (leaf stem)
  • Flowers: broccoli, cauliflower, or artichoke
  • Fruits: apple, orange, peach, tomato, or zucchini (example should have observable seeds)
  • Seeds: dried beans, peas, or lentils
  • Whole grains: popcorn or wheat berries (white rice has most of the grain removed).

Soak examples of grains and dried seeds overnight before bringing to class, so that they will be soft enough for students to split open.

Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

My Health My World: National Dissemination
Grant Number: 5R25ES009259
The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Number: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932