Teaching Life Cycles with Potatoes and Pirates

"I have seen first-hand the impact that learning about growing food can have on kids. Once children understand that our most nutritious food comes directly from the earth and from farms, a new world of connection with their bodies and their surroundings opens up."

 

 

 

By Jennifer Concepcion, author of Potatoes for Pirate Pearl

My inspiration for writing Potatoes for Pirate Pearl came from...kids! And potatoes of course. As a kindergarten teacher I’m always looking for new ways to engage my students in the content that I’m teaching. Plant life cycles, while pretty cool from my perspective, sometimes present a bit of a challenge to student interest. I wanted to grow plants in my classroom so that the kids could observe the growth of, be engaged in the growing of, and ideally actually eat at the end of the process!

Potatoes checked the boxes in all three categories. I was thinking of fun ways to introduce the unit, and a silly story about a pirate who gets sick from not eating fresh food popped into my head. Once I discovered that potatoes really could be grown in barrels at sea (and are) and that a pirate really could cure her scurvy by eating potatoes, there was no turning back.

My students LOVED the story, and we continued it through the whole plant life cycle unit. It was so successful and fun that I decided to write the story down—THEN I decided hey, why not see if someone might actually publish this. Feeding Minds Press, with their goal to help young readers understand where their food comes from, seemed like a natural fit.

I have seen first-hand the impact that learning about growing food can have on kids. Once children understand that our most nutritious food comes directly from the earth and from farms, a new world of connection with their bodies and their surroundings opens up.

Getting their hands dirty and understanding the process of sprouting, growing, observing, and harvesting allows kids to fully engage in their learning process! This is truly a STEM learning opportunity. Understanding the importance of food production also gets students curious about all the amazing careers in farming available to explore.

Potatoes for Pirate Pearl is about farming and understanding where our food comes from, but it’s also about unlikely friendships and forming bonds with someone whose perspective is wildly different from our own. Pirate Pearl and Farmer Fay have very little in common when they first meet, but by the end of the story they have created a friendship based in curiosity, generosity, and forgiveness. Pearl, Fay, (and Petunia of course) will have many more adventures together, I’m sure of it!

Potatoes for Pirate Pearl includes lots of great information about potatoes, recipes to try out, and instructions for how to grow potatoes at home or in a classroom! The book will align well with most kindergarten and early primary curriculums—I encourage caregivers and educators to give potato growing a try.

Potatoes for Pirate Pearl publishes on National Talk Like a Pirate Day—September 19th. Learn more at https://www.feedingmindspress.com/our-books/potatoes-for-pirate-pearl


Jennifer holds a Bachelor's degree in International Studies, and a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. She teaches bilingual Kindergarten and writes for kids of all ages. In her spare time she can be found building pirate forts at the beach or hammock-swinging under the mango tree, lost in a good book. Jennifer Concepcion lives in Costa Rica with her three children.

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