Potato Activities for Little Tots

By Lisa King

Children love learning about one of the most important vegetables known to man--potatoes. Engage your preschoolers in some fun potato activities that will make your little tater tots smile. Come on, dig in!

Introducing the Spud

Prior to beginning these games and activities, show students different types of potatoes. Tell them that the potato is one of the most  important vegetables in the world because so many of our foods are made from them. The teacher then will name several different foods that come from potatoes. Explain how potatoes grow under the ground and have to be dug up; cultivating potatoes is like digging for treasure.

Objectives

Students will be able to:

• Name at least two foods that are made with potatoes
• Create sequential patterns (AB, ABA, ABC, etc.)
• Sequence numbers one to ten
• Sort groups by size and color

Digging Up Potatoes Race

Children love treasure hunts and digging in the sand. Here is a potato activity that will help them correctly sequence numbers and give them a peek at cultivating potatoes. The teacher will hide several small red potatoes with the numbers one to ten written on them with a black marker, in two separate sand tables. One child will work at each table. The two children will race to dig up the potatoes and put them in the correct order. The one who finishes first may choose a prize from the treasure box.

Spud Patterning

Patterning is an important math skill for preschoolers to learn before they can grasp more difficult math concepts such as addition and skip counting. Spud Match will introduce them to patterning while helping them realize how many foods are made from potatoes. The teacher will print out several copies of ten french fries, ten tater tots, and ten potatoes to give to the students.The students will color them and cut them out to make AB, ABA, and ABC patterns.

Hot Potato Sounds Game

This Hot Potato game is an exciting way to teach listening skills, work on reflexes, and reinforce beginning sounds. The children will form a circle. The teacher will play the music as the children pass a real or plastic (if you can find one) potato around. Tell students they are going to pretend that the potato is hot. The first child will name something that starts with the letter A as quickly as possible before passing the potato to the next student. The next child must name something that starts with B. When the music stops, the child holding the potato must return to their seat. Continue until there is one child left in the circle. If children are just starting preschool or this game is too difficult for them, it can be changed to fit their skill level. One option would be to name things that are hot or spell their name instead.

Mr. Hairy Spud

Kids will learn about germination while participating in this fun, growing project that will give their potato man - hair!

Materials

Large potato

Cotton balls

Bowl

Grass seed (fast growing)

Knife

Spoon

Googly eyes (different sizes)

Glue

Markers or paint

How to Make Mr. Spud

The teacher will cut the top off the potato, use a spoon to scoop out the top of the potato and put a few cotton balls inside the hole. The students will make a face on their potato using markers, and glue on the googly eyes. Sprinkle the cotton balls with grass seed and place in a bowl that contains a little water. Set the potatoes by a window, but not in direct sunlight. Keep the potato watered. In a few days Mr. Spud will have a full head of hair.

Funky Potato

Students will learn about germs, how bacteria grows and the importance of hand washing while participating in this science experiment. Discuss with children how easy it is for us to spread germs when we are sick and how important it is to wash our hands. Tell them they are going to make a funky potato. Peel two potatoes, rinse, and store them in cold water. The teacher demonstrates hand washing and washes her hands prior to touching the first potato. The teacher will place the potato in a Ziploc bag and label it "control." The teacher will pass around the second potato and let the children rub their hands on it. The teacher will then place the potato directly in another Ziploc bag. Label this bag "test." Within a few weeks the potato that the children touched without washing their hands will have funky black bacteria growing on it. The control potato will not. Have children observe both potatoes.

The Great Potato Hunt

Preschool children will learn how to compare, order, arrange, size, and count with this potato activity. The teacher will hide several different sizes and colors of potatoes around the room. The children will take a brown lunch sack and go on a potato hunt. When all the potatoes have been found, the students will return to their desks and sort them in groups by size and color, counting the number in each group.

Your little tater tots are sure to be amazed while participating in these fun potato activities and games that reinforce learning in several curricula areas. Enjoy!