Spring is my favorite time in the classroom. We learn about plants, insects, birds, and pond animals. We plant beans and marigolds. We raise butterflies. We make bird treats. We taste fruits and vegetables. We read lots of wonderful stories like Tops and Bottoms, The Surprise Garden, and The Gardener.
I also learn so much about my students and their experiences with the outdoors. We talked this week about gardening, even though the ground is too wet for most of us to be out in the garden! My students all have experience with gardening and most have favorite vegetables, fruits, and flowers- which always prompts an interesting discussion. Yesterday I asked my students to tell me about their favorite vegetable. Most named broccoli, carrots, or corn. However, two students said grapes, one said apples, and another said watermelon. I watched several frowns appear and one student even said, “That’s a fruit!” I cautioned her to be polite and stop interrupting someone else’s turn. After the last student had spoken I asked the magic question, “What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?”
Classic answer #1- Vegetables are green!
Classic answer #2- Vegetables are like in your salad!
Classic answer #3- Vegetables are leaves!
“Well, then what is a fruit?”
You’re getting a good laugh, aren’t you? But now tell me your answer! Most adults can’t give me a defining difference either! J
Here are the results from an online dictionary:
1. any plant whose fruit, seeds, roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, leaves, or flower parts are used as food, as the tomato, bean, beet, potato, onion, asparagus, spinach, or cauliflower.
2. the edible part of such a plant, as the tuber of the potato.
3. any member of the vegetable kingdom; plant.
1. any product of plant growth useful to humans or animals.
2. the developed ovary of a seed plant with its contents and accessory parts, as the pea pod, nut, tomato, or pineapple.
3. the edible part of a plant developed from a flower, with any accessory tissues, as the peach, mulberry, or banana.
Doesn’t THAT just clear it right up for us?? Good grief! Notice that tomato is in both definitions?
Here is a little saying that I learned many years ago: if you can seed a seed in the part that you eat, it’s a fruit! Yes, that means that cucumbers, squashes, and peppers, among others, are technically fruits. And rhubarb is a vegetable. What we have accepted socially is that fruits are sweet!
So…our lesson time for today is over and I must go to school. Yesterday one of my students said, “Mrs. Maurer, may I check on my beans? I want to make sure they are okay.” Can’t wait to see if we have sprouts today!
Go eat something green.