On October 26, our early learning center students headed out to the farm for the yearly sweet potato harvest. The sweet potato digs are an ELC PTA-sponsored tradition that students look forward to every year as the weather cools and leaves start to turn shades of red and yellow, giving them a chance to learn about and experience a seasonal Japanese cultural tradition.
Our young learners traveled by bus to a traditional family-owned farm where they dug up sweet potatoes to bring back to school. The dirt, mud, vines and the struggle to pull the potatoes out of the ground provided rich, authentic sensory experiences. Students must work together to harvest the potatoes, also offering an opportunity to exercise social and cultural awareness, empathy and understanding through their shared efforts. This is their most memorable field trip of the year and students place a lot of pride in their potatoes.
The potato dig has worked its way into every part of our students’ learning. In science, they learn of the life cycle of plants, seeds and parts of the plants, students develop their vocabulary and narrative in writing about the experience and mathematics also comes into play as students count, measure and compare the potatoes.
When they brought back their potatoes and vines, every part was put to use. Students measured and then used the potatoes for art—drawing still life and making potato stamps. They then exercised their fine motor skills when washing and cutting the potatoes to cook. Students even wove the vines into wreaths! Finally, they cooked and baked the potatoes into delicious fries, pies, muffins and cookies.