Welcome to Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten! My class blog is the place I share information about some of the fun learning activities we are doing at school. I hope to provide parents with insight into what we are doing, and why, and to share ideas with other early childhood educators. Please don't use the photos or text of this blog without permission, but please do use any ideas you find useful. Thank you for stopping by!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

In the vegetable garden this week...

 I recently discovered an awesome gardening book (fiction) for children, and had to get a copy for our class.  Two Old Potatoes and Me was written by John Coy (see it on his website here) and illustrated by Carolyn Fisher, and it is perfect for our farm theme.

I found some old potatoes growing in my pantry this morning planned ahead and let some potatoes sprout in the pantry, so we could observe them, read the book, and plant our spuds like the characters in the book.  We compared a sweet potato, a russet, and some sprouting baby yukon golds.  The children noticed a lot of similarities and differences between the potatoes, as well as discovering the eyes, and of course the growing sprouts and roots.

When we went outside a little while later, we put a layer of potting soil in a large tub...

 ... and started our own potatoes growing.  We'll add layers of soil as they grow, to hill up around them, and hopefully in a few months we'll have potatoes to eat!

 We won't have to wait that long for our green beans - they have sprouted!  We had a hard, soaking rain earlier this week, and the following day the beans began peeking through the soil.  The children are fascinated by the seed coat falling off,  and tiny leaves growing.
 We're observing them every day, watching their progress. 

This week our pumpkins - the ones that have sprouted from our old jack-o-lanterns (read previous posts about that here), have started to bloom. 

Unlike most flowers, squash blossoms are either male or female.  This is a male blossom, it has a single stamen in the center, female squash blossoms have a ring of five stigma, and a baby fruit growing from the base.  Once you see them side by side, you'll have no trouble differentiating!  The male flowers always start first, and are prolific.  These are the ones we eat!  We're careful to leave the female flowers, so they can bear fruit for us.  Want to know more about eating squash blossoms?  Here is a link.

See how many I picked on just this one day?  We have about a dozen flowers each day right now, and they are best in the early morning.  My friends come running to get a taste of them!
I tear off the petals, and discard the stamen and stem areas.  Squash blossoms remind me a little of the flavor of cucumbers - very mild, but slightly sweet.  Yummy!

There's one more fun thing we've been watching in the veggie garden this week - lots of ladybugs!  One of my kiddos is very into ladybugs, and knows that they eat aphids - and the children wanted me to show them what aphids look like.  When they asked a month ago, I hadn't seen any, but this week I found them swarming on our old cabbage plants that have gone to seed - we ate those blossoms too by the way!  Here's what these aphids look like - tiny little gray-green bugs.
 Now I understand why there are also ladybug pupa on the cabbage plants, as well as adult ladybugs!  I'm hoping to find some larvae and maybe some eggs too, so I can show the children the whole life cycle!

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