What Is an Avocado?
Show the class an avocado and ask if anyone knows what it is. Who has tasted an avocado? Allow the students to feel the rough outside skin. Tell the class that an avocado is a green-skinned, pear-shaped fruit. Avocado trees are native to Puebla, Mexico and grow in tropical climates around the world. Tell them the class is going to plant an avocado seed, care for the plant, and watch it grow.
The students will learn about:
- Preparing an avocado for planting.
- Planting an avocado seed.
- Caring for the avocado plant.
- Texture and taste of an avocado.
- Common recipes using avocados.
Planting the Seed
Materials needed for this activity are: avocados, toothpicks, a glass, soil, planter/ pot and water.
New avocados can grow from planting an avocado seed. Tell the class you need their help to prepare an avocado seed for planting. Each day the students come to preschool, have them check on the seed and care for it as needed.
- Carefully cut the avocado in half and remove the seed. Wash the seed under running water.
- Use three toothpicks to suspend it above a water-filled glass with wide end of the seed down to cover about an inch of the seed in water.
- Place it in a warm place away from direct sunlight and refill the water as needed. In about two to six weeks roots and stem will sprout.
- Watch the seed until the stem is six to seven inches long, then cut it back to about three inches.
- When the roots have become thick and the stem has leafed out again (note: this may take a few months), plant the seed in a rich humus soil in a 10-1/2" diameter pot. Leave the seed half exposed.
- Water lightly and frequently with an occasional deep soak. Keep the soil moist, but not overly wet. If it is watered too much the leaves may turn yellow. If this happens, allow the plant to dry out for a few days.
- The plant should get plenty of sunlight. Help the children move it near a window.
- If the leaves turn brown and become fried, there is too much salt in the soil. If this happens, let the water run freely into the pot for several minutes.
- When the stem is 12 inches long, cut it back to 6 inches. This will encourage the growth of new shoots.
- An avocado makes a good preschool plant. Avocados can grow into a tree from the seed, but can take 7 to 15 years to start producing fruit. The fruit may have a different flavor or characteristics than the one planted.
Caring for the Plant
When preparing the avocado seed for planting, it needs to be in a warm place and be above water. After it is planted in soil it needs a lot of sunlight and adequate water. How do the sun and water help the plant grow? A plant absorbs sunlight and water similar to our bodies as we eat food and drink water. If we didn't eat enough healthy food, our bodies wouldn't be able to grow well. Plants need to be fed sunlight and water to grow.
A Tasty Recipe
Preparation for this activity: Peel and slice an avocado for the kids to taste, make guacamole to serve with tortilla chips.
Give the students small pieces of an avocado to taste. Ask them to describe the taste and texture. Avocados have a soft and slimy texture that is mushy. They taste bland but rich, similar to a potato or a mushroom. Discuss how it is often prepared for eating. Avocados are commonly used to make a guacamole dip or to add flavor to foods like rice, beans, meat, burritos, hamburgers, sandwiches and salads.
Mention the health benefits of avocados. Although an avocado is a fruit, it is high in fat. About 80% of calories in avocados are from fat, but it is mostly healthy fat. Avocados are a good source of potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, copper, fiber, and folate.
For the preschool snack, serve guacamole with tortilla chips.
Review all the components of the lesson plan. Ask the class what they learned about avocados. Answers may include, they are green, grow in tropical climates, taste mushy and bland and are used in a lot of recipes. As they continue to care for the avocado plant, they can remember things they know about avocados and caring for a plant with adequate sunshine and water.