In the previous lesson, students learned that a plant’s life begins as a seed. Some students may have even watched their seedlings emerge from beneath the soil surface and sprout leaves. With this previous experience and knowledge, students will make an educated guess of how long it takes a seed to complete its life cycle. They’ll then investigate various fruit structures that hold seeds and create a life cycle sequence using a set of cards. Finally, students will engage in a food preservation exercise by pickling and tasting an assortment of vegetables that are actually fruits.
Note: I changed the recipes for Lessons #4 and #5. Since lesson #4 is about seeds, the bean salad was moved there. Since Lesson #5 is about the whole life cycle and ends with a discussion about fruits, pickling has been moved there with a discussion about how many foods that we call vegetables are actually fruits (cucumbers, zucchini, peas, peppers, and tomatoes).
The life cycle of a plant includes seed, seedling, plant, flower, and fruit.
Food can be preserved through pickling.
Pickling changes physical and chemical characteristics of the food.
SWBAT describe the lifecycle of a plant.
10 (D) observe changes that are part of a simple life cycle of a plant: seed, seedling, plant, flower, and fruit
Print plant life cycle sequence cards, 1 per student, and cut out.
Sterilize mason jars by dipping them in boiling water or steaming them in the dishwasher.
Timeline (1 hour total):
10 min Lifecycle Introduction
10 min Fruit Examination
15 min Life Cycle Sequence Card
15 min Make It – Pickling
5 min Taste It – Sun Pickles (optional)
5 min Clean-up
Note: Depending on the preparedness of your class, you might want to pre-chop vegetables and just have them fill the jars. Have students work in groups of 2-3.
In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are the means by which angiosperms disseminate seeds. Therefore, there are many “vegetables” that are actually fruits, botanically speaking. These fruits include cucumbers, green beans, zucchini, peppers, etc. Share this information with the students and before beginning to prepare the pickles.
You will need a gallon jar with a lid and pickling cucumbers to fill jar.
Wash cucumbers well and prick with a fork
In the bottom of the jar, place a large stem and head of fresh dill and one or more large peeled garlic cloves..
Pack the cucumbers into the jar (along with a large grape leaf, optional, but increases crispness).
Mix together well:
6 ½ cups water
3 ¼ cups white vinegar
⅔ cup pickling salt (Not Table Salt)
Pour the above mixture over the cucumbers. Seal the jar and place in the sun for 5 days. once opened, refrigerate. It is best to always remove the pickles with a clean fork.
5. Taste It – Pickles.
If available, have students sample locally made pickles, or even vinegar pickles. Distribute a small amount of pickles to each student for them to taste and compare. Have them pay special attention to texture and crispness so they can compare them to their pickles the following week. If pickles aren’t available, have students try fresh cucumbers.
OPTIONAL: Planting Seeds. At the end of class, have the students plant some seasonally appropriate seeds to take home. Show the students how to fill the small cup with soil and have each student fill their own cup and gently tap the cup to settle the soil. Demonstrate how to measure seed depth using your finger, then add the seed and more soil. Have students wait to water their seed until they get home.
6. Clean-Up – Students will return the classroom to its previous state, including washing cutting boards and knives, and wiping down tables and floors as necessary.