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!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Potatoes - a follow up


  If you've been following my blog, you might recall that the kiddos and I planted potatoes in the spring.  I read a fantastic children's book, Two Old Potatoes and Me, and we planted old potatoes just like the father and daughter in the story.  You can see the previous posts about it here.

 It's fall now, and the plants had stopped growing, and looked pretty tired.  I decided it was time to dig into the soil around the potato plants, and to see what we might have grown.
 The first thing we all noticed when I dumped out the big bin full of soil and potato plants, was that there were hundreds of worms in the soil.  Big worms, little worms, middle sized worms... lots and lots of happy earth worms.  The children couldn't keep out of it, and happily dug in, searching for potatoes, and thrilled to find the wiggly worms.
 Our "haul" was pretty pitiful.  Only one of our potato plants had any potatoes, and they were very small.  We ended up with just over a handful of new potatoes.  I probably dug them up too soon, but even so, we had very few potatoes.
You are probably thinking that growing the potatoes was a waste of time - if you judge solely by the final yield, that would be true.  So how else could this activity have been of value?

The children spent a lot of time learning about potatoes, literacy, plant growth, and nature.  We read
almost every week, all summer and into the fall.  We learned what color is "periwinkle," and noticed that the child in the book has two homes, one with dad and one with mom.  For children whose home experience is similar, it's very affirming to find characters they can relate to.

The kiddos learned that potatoes have eyes, and that they can grow from them.  We saw some of the pieces of potato rot or get eaten, and then watched as the surviving plants grew.  The children added soil to the pot, burying the base of the plants frequently to encourage potato growth.  They even looked for potato beetles regularly!  They may not ever do it again, but the kiddos know how to grow their own food, and that's a powerful piece of knowledge!

When the children found worms this year, they put them into the soil around the potatoes, and watched as the worms dug down into the soil.  Obviously those worms survived and thrived, evidenced by the massive crop of worms we found. I dumped the soil and potato plants into the vegetable garden for us to dig through, so the worms and the soil is now nourishing the garden, ready for another crop.  We also learned that worms are not boys and girls, but hermaphrodites - they are both male and female! 

So no, this crop of potatoes is not going to go very far. I'm going to make mashed potatoes with them, but will have to supplement with store bought potatoes to make enough for us all to enjoy.  Still, I'm happy with the return on the investment:  we grew some children, right along with the potatoes!

2 comments:

  1. I love how you invested the time and energy into showing your kids about the process of learning. It is the journey that is the icing on the cake, not the destination or the end results. Your kids are blessed. You may want to do an extension potato growing experiment. Simply google "how to grow 100 pounds of potato in 4x 4feet". I haven't tried it yet, but it is on my list for my own boys!

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  2. Hi Bekki, thank you for stopping by! You are right, it really is the learning journey that matters, and your boys are blessed too! I would love to try growing potatoes again, and have had better results other years - although never 100 pounds, wow! Sadly, as you'll see in my latest post, I won't be able to grow my next batch with the kiddos, as I will be closing my doors and relocating soon. Still, there is hope. One child in particular collects and plants every seed she can find, so perhaps she will be the gardener that I wish I could be. Do let me know when you plant your potatoes, I'd love to know if the 100 pounds is really achievable!

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