Fall is the time of year where we harvest food. Once the weather starts to cool down, it’s natural to grab a sweater and start up a pot of soup for warmth. Growing Vegetable Soup,by Lois Ehlert, presents the perfect opportunity to talk about the things that we naturally do at this time of year. Children benefit by learning from relevant events in their lives. Read this book with your child. There are SO MANY ways that you can extend this book into so much more than it is alone. You can develop vocabulary by talking about the names of vegetables, develop taste buds by sampling different kinds of vegetables, develop narrative skills and numeracy skills by making a pot of soup, and so on.
Here is an activity you can do with this book:
From the Garden to Soup
- Create vegetables using craft foam.
- Place vegetables in some dirt you may have left over from your garden. You can also use a blanket to simulate earth.
- Invite one child to be a “sounder” and another to be a “matcher.” Have the sounder secretly choose an item from the “dirt” and say the first sound of the item. For example, say “C-c-c” for carrot. Depending on your children’s ability level, you should be the sounder for the first few times that you model the game.
- Once the sound has been heard, the matcher finds an item in the “dirt” that starts with the same sound. If that item is not the item the sounder has chosen, you can help the matcher by giving clues. Continue until the matcher holds up the correct item. When the matcher selects the correct item, he can put it into a soup pot. Play again using another set of children as a sounder and a matcher.
- This activity can help younger children label things that grow in a garden. If you are working with younger children, you could ask them to find colors, “Can you please find me the white onion, orange carrot, red tomato….
- You could also add some foam alphabet letters to the soup to work on letter recognition. Say, “Can anyone find a letter ‘A’ and or the letter that starts with the sound /a/ to add to our soup?”
Different Ways to “Tell the Story” with children.
Retell the Story, Create a Recipe
- Recall the story with the children and write down the recipe for making vegetable soup
- Attach pictures to each step in the recipe
- With the children, follow the recipe and make vegetable soup
Flannel Board or Story Bag
- Retell the story with a flannel board or Story Bag.
- Place the object on the flannel board or in the bag and solicit vocabulary and story from children
- Pass out pieces to children and as you retell the story, invite the children to place the pieces on the flannel board on the story bag
- Place the flannel board or story bag in the reading area for children to recreate their own stories
Watch (or Make) a You Tube Video
- Watch the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOidUBm_ZEU
- Compare/Contrast the book to the video
- pictures VS drawn pictures
- Create your own video
- Assign children jobs to create video
- Camera man
- Assign children jobs to create video
What else would you do with this book?
MATERIALS (Needed per child and adult):
- paper plates
- small paper cups
- large bowl
- safety knives
- small cutting board
- 2 whole vegetables (don’t have to be the same for each child – have 6 types for variety)
Willie the Worm crawled into the vegetable bowl. Inch your forefinger along the table. “Which vegetable should I eat first?” he asked. Name the vegetables with the children. “His sharp teeth bit into the soft skin of a round, red tomato. He wondered what it was like inside of the tomato. Willie crawled in, and what do you think he found?” Cut the tomato, give each child a small piece and discuss their observations. Put extra pieces in the large bowl. “Willie ate ‘til he was so full he fell asleep. He didn’t try any other vegetables. But our stomachs are bigger so we can try them all and make a vegetable salad!” Distribute materials, and say, “I wonder what we’ll discover about our vegetables.” Remind children to use their own cup and only put untasted pieces in the large bowl to share later.
Encourage children to use all five senses as they explore the vegetables. Describe and encourage them to describe visual characteristics, sound, texture, smell and taste. Ask what the attributes remind them of. Encourage children to predict what a vegetable will look like or feel like inside and verify predictions when they cut open the vegetables.
Survey vegetables the children liked best and create a chart. Use information from survey to create a recipe. Send home the recipe with the children to re-create salad with their families. Encourage the children to represent the vegetable they cut up (draw or print). Create a book from their representations.
What’s For Snack?
MATERIALS (Needed per child):
- Small paper bag (lunch bag) with
- 1-2 vegetables per bag and stapled shut
- Drawing materials (crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc.)
Hand each child the paper bag. I made a snack for each of us last night that I thought we could enjoy today. I stapled the bags shut so the snack would not fall out as I brought them to school. But now I have forgotten what I put in the bags for our snack. Do you think you could figure out what is in your bag without looking?
Encourage the children to feel the bags. What is the shape of the item(s)? Encourage children to use descriptive words such as round, hard, soft, rough, smooth, oval, oblong, large and small. For those children who are struggling, open up the bags and invite the children to touch the object, without looking. What do they feel now?
Encourage the children to draw what they think the item(s) is in their bag. Open the bag. Were their predictions correct? Draw what was actually in the bag. Ask the children for suggestions as to what to do with the vegetables.
Where’s The Potato?
- 10 cups or pots numbered 1-10
- a potato
Hank was making vegetable soup in the kitchen, and he had a mess. He had pots, spoons, bowls and vegetables all over the kitchen. He needed the potato, but could not find it. There were 10 pots in the kitchen upside down and he thought the potato might be under one of the pots. Do you think you can help me find the potato for Hank so he can finish his soup? Invite the children, one at a time, to guess a number.
If a child chooses 3, emphasize that the child chose the third cup and that the 3 is in between 2 and 4. If the potato is not under that pot, offer a clue. For example, if the potato is under the 7, provide the clue: the potato is not under the 3. The potato is under a pot after the 3 but before the 8. Continue to use these clues, emphasizing before, after and between; what number the potato is not under; and using ordinal numbers to restate the child’s choice.
Place the game on a table for the children to play on their own at choice time. You could use colors, shapes, letters, symbols, or vocabulary pictures on the pots to reinforce concepts.
- Corn seeds, beans seeds, pea seeds, sunflower seeds
- 2×2 inch cards with pictures of seeds
- Large bar graph
- 1 cup measuring cups
Introduce the scale to the group. Ask if anyone knows what the scale is and what they would do with the scale. Take a measuring cup and scoop one cup of corn seeds on one side of the scale. Ask the children, What do you think will happen when I put this cup of bean seeds into the other side of the scale? Take one cup of bean seeds in the other side. Ask, “What happened? Why is one side lower than the other?” As children respond, restate their responses, emphasizing vocabulary that pertains to weight and measurement. “I have 4 different kinds of seeds – corn seeds, bean seeds, pea seeds and sunflower seeds. I wonder which seed is heavier?” Ask the children to guess which seed they think is heaviest. Ask the children to place a picture of the seed that they think is heaviest on the chart.
“How do you think we can do that? What would we do first to find out which seed weighs the most?” Write down the process for answering the question, “Which seed is heaviest?” Carry out the procedure with the children.
Invite the children to draw the steps they took to find out which seed was heaviest. Compare their prediction to their results. Discuss if and why their predictions did not match their results. Place other materials in the science area for the children to experiment with weight.
How to Make Vegetable Soup
- Broccoli, onion, carrots, potato, green beans, cabbage, tomatoes, green pepper, zucchini, ear of corn, pot, spoons, safety knives, cutting boards, water, peas, seasonings (parsley, marjoram, salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf)
- chart paper
- hot pads
Ask the children to recall how vegetable soup was made in the book. “What happened first? What ingredients do we need? What kitchen utensils do we need? What do we need to do to prepare the vegetables for the soup? What do we need to do to be safe in the kitchen?” Use the information to create a recipe with the children. Draw/Add pictures to the different steps in the recipe to help children “read” the recipe. Using the recipe, make vegetable soup.
While following the recipe, invite children to take turns reading the recipe and directing the class/group as to what to do next. Encourage children to talk about what they are doing, using vocabulary from the story.
Take pictures of process and create a book, documenting how children made vegetable soup. Solicit pictures from children of their favorite part of the process and include in the book. Include children’s comments in book. Send copies of the book home to parents or invite parents to come in and make vegetable soup with their children. Take a survey of the class – Did you like the vegetable soup? Yes or no? Graph their responses.
- Whole carrot
- Various vegetables cut into different sizes and shapes
Lay out a whole carrot (with leaves, stem and roots still intact). Discuss with the children the different parts of the carrot, naming the parts of the plant. Now, take the carrot and cut the carrot and clean the carrot. Lay out other various vegetables cut into various sizes. Invite the children to use the pieces to create a veggie person.
As they create their veggie people, encourage the children to describe their creations and how they are attaching pieces and what size, vegetable and shape they are using. Ask questions such as “who has a veggie person that has a round head?” or “does anyone have a person with a body made from a triangle shaped root?”
Display or take pictures of their creations. Invite children to dictate how they created their person – what pieces did they use, what shapes are the pieces, what parts of the plant were used?
- Recording of calming music
Ask the children, “Where does a plant come from?” As the children come up with seed, invite the children to pretend to be a seed. “What would that look like?” (put your hand into a fist or your body into a ball) “What happens next? The seed sends out root into ground below. Can you show me how a seed sends out its roots?” (put fingers out or stretch out legs) “Then the sprouts begin to push their way through the ground” (move your fingers or arms upward). “What does the plant need to grow?” (sun, water) Then the warm sun hits the plant, the rain sprinkles down, and it begins to stretch upward.” (reach your hands and arms up) “Then the breeze comes along and the branches of the plant are blown gently” (sway your hands and arms above your head) “Now we are ripe and ready to be picked.”
Encourage the children to make their own drawings of a plant growing from a seed to a plant. Place sequencing cards of a plant’s life cycle in the science area and invite the children to place the cards in sequential order.
I created an Activity Handout with a printable version of the listed activities
Want more ideas? I also created a handout with Other_Fruits_and_Vegetable_Activities.
Have a Great Week!
Kacey Deverell is the Mentor Supervisor at Early Childhood Alliance. She coordinates the mentoring team as well as provides mentoring and technical assistance for Paths to QUALITY programs. She has a Master’s degree in education from Ball State University. You can email or contact her at 800-423-1498 extension 2483.