Theme: Farm to Preschool

Fruit or Vegetable?


Objective: Children will explore fruits and vegetables, sort and classify them, and compare seeds.

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What You Will Need

  • An assortment of vegetables such as lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, celery, broccoli
  • An assortment of fruits such as pineapple, bananas, grapes, strawberries, peaches, kiwi, apples, pears
  • Sharp knife – adult use only
  • Cutting board
  • Paper plates – 1 per vegetable/fruit

What To Do

Note: Before beginning this activity, have the children wash their hands.

  1. Display the assortment of fruits and vegetables, and ask the children to identify them.
  2. Have the children state their observations as they compare the fruits and vegetables (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  3. Tell the children that some of the foods are fruits and some are vegetables, and that all of them grow from plants.
  4. Tell the children that the difference between fruits and vegetables is that fruits are the ripened part of a flowering plant that contains the seeds (see Did You Know?). Vegetables grow from plants, but they do not have seeds on or inside them.
  5. Tell the children that they will be sorting the foods and placing the fruits on one side of the table and vegetables on the other.
  6. Tell the children that you will cut the foods in half to find out which ones contain seeds.
  7. One at a time, cut each of the vegetables/fruit (except strawberries, whose seeds are on the outside of the fruit) in half, and look for the seeds.
  8. Enlist the children’s help with sorting the foods – fruits on one side of the table, vegetables on the other.
  9. In order to avoid any confusion with some vegetables that are actually fruits, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers, add a middle section to the sorting. Explain to the children that some fruits are used as vegetables when we cook, but they are actually fruits.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Tell me how all of these things are alike.
  • Describe how they are different.
  • Explain some ways that we could sort them.
  • Explain how you know which foods are fruits.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • As seeds are found, place the seeds on small paper plates, and label them. Place each plate of seeds in a zip-closed bag, and place the bags in the discovery area. Children can use magnifying glasses to inspect the seeds and discuss their observations.
  • Have a tasting party with the fruits and vegetables by cutting them up into bite-sized pieces. Give children a piece of each on a plate. Provide a veggie dip and/or a fruit dip, and cups of water for children to clear their taste buds. Have the children vote for their favorite fruit and their favorite vegetable. Have a discussion about why these are their favorites.
  • Allow the children to assist with making a vegetable and/or fruit salad. Give them plastic knives and clean plates to use for cutting up the vegetables and fruits. As the foods are cut, have the children put vegetables in one bowl and fruits in a separate bowl. When finished, mix, and eat the salad(s) as a snack.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children tell that all of the foods are alike because they are edible?
  • Could children describe the differences in the foods?
  • Could children explain that the foods could be sorted by size, shape, or color?
  • Could children explain fruits as having seeds?

Did You Know?

Scientifically, a fruit is the ripened part of a flowering plant that contains the seeds. Plants develop fruit to help them spread seeds and multiply. When we think about fruits, we usually mean apples, peaches, watermelons, and so forth. However, there are many fruits—such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and pumpkins—that are often identified as vegetables but are technically fruits.

A vegetable is a part of a plant that is edible. Vegetables are the leafy, stem, or root part of a plant that we eat. Vegetables include leaves, stalks, flowers, fruit, seeds, roots, and bulbs. All fruits and vegetables come from plants.

Did You Know?

Scientifically, a fruit is the ripened part of a flowering plant that contains the seeds. Plants develop fruit to help them spread seeds and multiply. When we think about fruits, we usually mean apples, peaches, watermelons, and so forth. However, there are many fruits—such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and pumpkins—that are often identified as vegetables but are technically fruits.

Learn More

Vocabulary

  • fruit – the part of a plant that has seeds and flesh.
  • vegetable – the stem, leaves, or roots of a plant that is used for food. A potato is a vegetable.
  • sort – to separate by kind or type.
  • ripened – finished growing and ready to be picked and eaten.
  • scientific – having to do with a method of studying and learning about things in nature.
  • seeds – the small part of a plant with flowers that grows into a new plant.

Vocabulary

  • fruit
  • vegetable
  • sort
  • ripened
  • scientific
  • seeds

Child-Friendly Definitions

Lesson Tips

  • This lesson is best presented after the lesson, Plant Parts We Eat, available on this website.
  • Some of the children may be hungry. Prepare extra fruits and vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces, and allow children to eat them as a snack.
  • Be sure to wash the vegetables before cutting into them.
  • Remind the children to wash their hands before handling food.

Books

  • Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
  • The Fruits We Eat by Gail Gibbons
  • The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons
  • Ten Apples Up on Top! by Theo. LeSieg

Common Core State
Standards Initiative

These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.[2]

Visit the CCSS website

Important Legal Disclosures & Information

  1. While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed. 

  2. There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.