Veg chopping can be so dull , don’t you think?
This might brighten it up a bit. This is part of the Shape Hunting series.
This can just be done while you are preparing dinner. It doesn’t have to be a lesson as such. If you want to make it into a lesson on kids geometry, that’s fine but there is no need to get bogged down in paperwork, this isn’t standardized testing!, its about the ‘seeing’, the discovery. As I mentioned in the last shape hunt post its about training the eye.
We are looking at shapes in fruit and veg which, of course, are plants.
If what you’re cooking contains any of the below just start with that.
onion, leek, melon, cucumber, apple, celery, pepper.
The only rule is, always cut through the ‘tummy’ of the vegetable. You know what I mean, the bit at the top of the tomato/orange/apple is where it would be attached to the plant or in the case of carrots the bit attached that sticks out of the ground. think of each food item having a top and a bottom. Therefore we always cut across the grain, seeing the shapes that naturally occur and grow inside.
You can see the circles in the onion, ask the children to identify the shape and draw the concentric rings if they want.
The leek is the same, they guessed what shape was inside and then we played with pushing the tubes up to create the cylinders, which seemed a subtle way of
introducing a 3D shape within our geometry in food exploration.
Ok, I know the pictures show them writing it all down, you don’t have to do that unless you want to make a lesson of it, I was just doing it for the purposes of this post. But I like just slotting the activity into the day. Kids geometry while packing up lunch boxes or preparing dinner.
Most have two shapes to be spotted, for example: the outside shape in a cucumber being a circle and can you also see the triangle in the centre where the seeds are?
The concept of the circle enclosing, or being the mother of all other shapes was an important philosophy in the ancient times. The parent of all shapes, the One, the Whole.
Help them by pointing it out if they struggle to see it. As I said its not about getting the right answer its about training the eye to spot it. Once you show them they’ll see it every time you cut the cucumber and they’ll tell you about it.
If you want you can use the printables from the previous shape hunt post to help you identify with the children and give them something to reference it to.
You could start an “I spy a …. triangle”, a geometry in food game at dinner time. They need to spot as many as they can in the vegetables.
Who would have thought you could find a square in a pepper? Actually I expected it to be a triangle, but as you can see this one demonstrated a square or a diamond more exactly. Maybe thats GM crops I don’t know.
As Richard Louv says in his book ‘Last Child in the Woods’ – “We can No longer assume a cultural core belief in the perfection of nature”, he goes on to describe the technology of the 21st century enables the blending of humans, animals and machines and what does this mean for the nature as we see and experience it in this age?
Anyway , that’s a bit of topic for today more about that another time, back to the shapes.
But the youngest children did identify the square and at this stage that is what is important.
Later another pepper did produce a triangle.
Why are the shapes there? actually the children didn’t ask that, there didn’t seem a need to explain, just a curiosity to find more. But it is a hard question to answer and hopefully the answer will develop over more study of these areas. What we are looking at here is the blueprint by which so many things in nature are constructed, following simple geometric laws.
Of course we didn’t want to forget the beautiful star to be found inside the apple, such a perfect gift!“Such a yummy present too!” they said.
And when we had a bit more time we got to printing with celery to discover the perfect five point star. I did have to point this one out to them the first time!
As with any natural thing it varies quite a bit.
Cut through the celery no more than about half way up the bunch from the base, using a ink pad, print off the end pattern of the stalks. It takes a couple of times practicing to make sure you get all the outer stalks.
If you mark the dots they can draw the lines between them and then they want to just draw the star again and again. Each time they naturally create the pentagon (5 sided shape) within the centre of the star.
Like the apple star the celery just makes me smile!
This star indicates the fivefold symmetry seen throughout nature so much. Look at the flowers of so many edible fruits where the petals determine the seed formation. Next time you have a bowl of blueberries, see if you can spot the perfect little star on the underside of each one. The pentagon and the number 5 is regeneration itself.
Further geometric concepts in vegetables to consider (maybe not during the preparation of dinner):
Fractals in nature, the repetitious geometric patterns that replicate the whole in smaller scales. For example a broccoli or the ever perfect romanesco.
Segments, do all oranges have the same number of segments?
Alternates, ever noticed how the peas line up on alternating sides of the pod? the same way leaves on some plants branch out on alternate sides in turn.
If you found this post helpful, interesting or fun, please share it with a couple of friends. Let me know in the comments below how you get on, which shapes and numbers did you find?