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Yum! What Part of the Plant am I Eating?

Would you ever eat the root, stalk or leaf of a plant?  Let's take a closer look at the vegetables we like to eat and what part of the plant they come from! 


Lesson Type:
Open Inquiry

Relevant Standard:
NSTA LS1.A: Structure and Function Plants and animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions in growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction.



The students will understand the structure and function of roots stem and leaves of a plant.

The students will identify parts of a plant by looking at a whole plant or part of a plant.


Nutritional Objective:

(Insert Nutritional Obj. Here)

  1. Fresh Basil from the supermarket, or home garden with the roots still attached.

  2. Vegetable Classification Worksheet

  3. Chalkboard/Dry Erase Board

  4. For this activity you will want a variety of different vegetables that are roots, stalks and leaves of plants. (For a more challenging lesson, you can also include flowers as a part of the lesson, but since most flowers of a plant are fruits, we skipped this.)


Root Vegetable

(Choose 3)

Stalk Vegetable

(Choose 3)

Leaf Vegetable

(Choose 3)

  • Potato

  • Carrot

  • Radish

  • Beet

  • Asparagus

  • Celery

  • Rhubarb

  • Lettuce (you can use a variety)

  • Spinach

  • Cabbage



Learning Activities:

1. On the board draw a simple diagram of a plant, ask students to identify parts of a plant and label the three main parts: Root, Stem, and Leaf. Describe the function of each part.



Root: Is underground and absorbs water and nutrients (food) from the soil.

Stem: Another name for the stem is a stalk, transports water through the plant.

Leaves: Takes in sunlight to help make food for the plant. It also takes in The Brainstorm the name of different plants with your students. Lead to students to ask themselves if they can name any vegetables that are plants.


2. As a class discover a Basil Plant and break it down into the three main parts of the plant: Leaf, Stem (or stalk) and the Root. Allow students to touch the plant and you can break the plant so students can see each part separately.


3. Tell students that they will now get to discover and classify vegetables and which part of the plant is the vegetable that we eat.


4. Using the Vegetable Classification Worksheet, draw the same chart on the board for students to see. As a class identify one vegetable together.


Example using Celery as a Stalk Vegetable:

  1. Show the vegetable to students and encourage them to touch the vegetable.

  2. Can they name the vegetable?

  3. Have students point to which part (Stalk) of the celery we eat.

  4. Knowing the three parts of the plant that we just learned about, can you guess which part of the plant is what we eat? Students should identify the stalk.

  5. On the board, and on the students’ worksheets fill out the chart and put Celery in the Stalk column.

  6. Repeat these steps with one Root vegetable, and one Leafy vegetable.

5. Now that the class has identified one example of each a Root, Stalk and Leaf vegetable let students continue the activity in small groups or in pairs. Show students the remainder of vegetables they will be identifying as parts of a plant. Name the vegetable and write a word bank on the board. Have students pass around the remainder of the vegetables and have them finish completing the chart. Once completed, collect vegetables and go over with the completed chart with students.




Begin a class discussion about plants. Who eat plants? Animals? Humans? Do they eat plants? Would you ever eat the leaf, or root of a plant? Explain to students that vegetables are all parts of a plant.




Discuss with students what part of the plant they eat the most; is it a root, stem or leaf? Ask students about their favorite vegetable and why vegetables are important for their health.



Use the “Is it a Fruit or Vegetable? This is bananas!” lesson as an extender for an inquiry based lesson for differentiating between fruits or vegetables.