- Extend their vocabulary
- Observe changes
- Use their fine-motor skills
- Sweet potatoes and a few regular potatoes (red skin and white)
- Plastic knives and forks
- Two large plastic bowls
- Three pots
- Small plastic bowls
- Plastic measuring cup
- Paring knife or vegetable peeler, sharp cutting knife
- Cooking oil
- Butter or margarine and milk
Step 1: Show the children different kinds of potatoes. Encourage them to tell what they know about each variety, including the various names. Pass the potatoes around for the children to touch and ask them to observe the potatoes' different shapes, colors, and textures. Show the children the bits of dirt that are on the potatoes and explain that potatoes grow under the ground, in the dirt.
Step 2: Most children will have tasted potatoes cooked in a variety of ways. Ask: Who likes French fried potatoes, baked potatoes, and mashed potatoes? How many children like sweet potato pie? Explain that now they will cook and taste mashed potatoes!
Step 3: After the children wash their hands, show them how to clean the potatoes. Explain how you will use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to peel the skins off the potatoes. Each child can have a turn holding a plastic bowl that catches the potato skins. Then give each child a plastic knife and help them cut each potato into several small pieces. Place each type of cut-up potato into a separate plastic bowl.
Step 4: Ask the children to place the sweet potatoes into one pot and the white potatoes into another pot. Next, they can fill the measuring cup with water and pour the water into the pots so that it covers the potatoes. Place the pots on the stove to cook.
Step 5: Give each child two small plastic bowls and a plastic fork. Place a few cooked pieces of sweet potatoes in one of the bowls and a few cooked pieces of white potatoes in the other. Fill the plastic measuring cup with milk and help the children pour a little bit of milk into each bowl. Offer children the choice of adding butter to their potatoes. Invite the children to use their forks to mash their potatoes.
Remember: Discuss important safety and sanitary rules before cooking with children. Safe and successful cooking activities require diligent adult supervision.
Play Hot Potato! Invite the children to sit in a circle. Play recorded music as the children pass a real potato around the circle. When the music stops, the child with the potato leaves the circle. Each child who leaves the circle gets a turn to start and stop the music.
I Smell Honey by Andrea Pinkney
Miss Spider's Tea Party: The Counting Book by David Kirk