Download This Full Lesson: Lets Grow Potatoes
Lesson Description: Students will work in small groups to research the life cycle of potatoes and learn about the growing process from a local farmer. They will plant, care for, measure growth of plants and chart the growth of the classroom potatoes.
The student will:
- Use at least two resources, including Potatoes for ME, to research potatoes. Be sure to note:
- Soil & climate requirements
- Growing cycle
- Plant requirements
- Participate in planting, watering, monitoring and harvesting potatoes.
- Take weekly measurements of potato top growth to the nearest ¼ inch and show on a line graph.
- Write a paragraph about one of the steps in the planting, growing, or harvesting of potatoes including an illustration.
Note to Teachers:
- Potatoes are not grown from seed. You will need “seed potatoes” that will have “eyes”. Seed potatoes are available from farm and garden stores at the time of year for outdoor planting in your area.
- Potatoes may be grown anytime in the classroom. Potatoes with “eyes” will usually sprout if kept in a warm light place and then planted after sprouting. You can use small potatoes from the supermarket as seed potatoes, although they may have been sprayed to delay sprouting. Using supermarket potatoes allows you to grow potatoes at a time of year that does not coincide with local farmers.
- For growing potatoes in an outdoor garden in Maine, seed potatoes become available from seed companies or farming stores in April. The crop will not mature until late summer or early fall depending on variety.
- Potatoes may be grown in 5 gallon buckets, potato grow bags, boxes, or any container that will allow for the roots to spread. Cardboard or any similar material needs to be lined with a plastic bag with drainage holes in the bottom. The earliest varieties of potatoes take about 90 days to mature.
- Explore a possible partnership with a local farmer. Find one will willing to visit your classroom and talk about planting and harvesting potatoes on a farm.
- Gather research materials about potatoes.
- Gather supplies for growing potatoes in the classroom.
- Gather several potato recipes for potato dishes that the school food service may provide.
- Large bucket/containers with drainage holes drilled in the bottom, plastic saucers, potting soil
- Seed potatoes cut into “eye” chunks, or small potatoes with “eyes” from the grocery store
- Rulers, yard sticks/meter sticks
- Potato resources
- Begin by having class brainstorm the different ways potatoes can be eaten (baked, mashed, potato salad, fries, chips, etc.)
- Give each student one How Many? potato survey form and ask that they record the types of potatoes they eat in a week. After one week, the results can be used for a number of math activities. Possible math activities: create potato word problems, tabulate and graph survey results, and See Potato for ME Activity Planning Book, page 5, for a math activity.
- Students will work in small groups to research potatoes. They will find information about:
- Soil and Climate requirements
- Potato growing in their state
- Life cycle (or growth cycle) of a potato
- Uses of potatoes (including non-food uses)
- Record findings on chart paper
- Following teacher directions, prepare container and plant seed potato pieces. Be sure containers are labeled. Containers should be kept in a sunny place and watered when needed.
- Have students label the parts of a potato plant, See Potato for ME Activity Planning Book, page 13.
- After leaves appear, measure the tops (the part above ground) once a week, on the same day each week and record growth progress.
- Plot measurement information on a line graph.
- Have local farmer come to the classroom to talk about growing potatoes, problems that potato farmers encounter and how they are managed.
- Participate in the harvest of the classroom potatoes.
- Students should be able to explain how their harvesting techniques may be different from the farmer’s way of harvesting.
- Demonstrate food safety techniques (cleaning and storing the potatoes).
- Investigate some potato recipes and choose one to ask the Food Service department to make. See Potato for ME Activity Planning Book, page 7, for recipes.
- Identify the steps of growing potatoes and in small groups, write about and illustrate one of the steps of planting potatoes. Each group should write about and illustrate a different step.
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds at johnnyseeds.com
- Burpee Seeds at burpee.com
- Parks Seeds at parkseed.com
- Maine Potato Board at mainepotatoes.com
|Common Core ELA:
W.3.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
W.4.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
W.5.7 Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
|Common Core Math:||
3MD.B.4 Generate measurement data by measuring lengths using rules marked with halves and fourths of an inch. Show the data by making a line plot which is marked of in appropriate units – whole numbers, halves, or quarters.
4.MD.A.1 Know relative sizes of measurement units within one system of units including km, m, cm; kg, g; lb, oz; hr, min, sec. Within a single system of measurement, express measurements in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Record measurement equivalents in a two column table.