Life lessons you can teach your child through a vegetable basket

By: - 8th May 2019

Your little bundle of joy grows up fast! Now they are taking their first steps, mumbling their first words, sleeping less and pulling everything! They might even wander to the kitchen to have a curious peek at the vegetable basket. When they do this, don't chase them out mum! You might not want them to touch the vegetables because you’re afraid that they will create a mess or worse, eat them raw, or you might even be worried of the dust and germs they might carry. These are valid concerns but if you can take proper precautions, there are lots of things you could teach their curious little minds from something as simple as your vegetable basket.

Grouping things that are similar

Vegetable baskets have multi-coloured vegetables. Older children can easily identify what they are and sort them out but a little one who is just over a year will not have any clue. However, if your child has passed the age of two years, they will be able to grasp the concept of grouping similar objects and you can use your vegetable basket to teach them to reinforce this skill. For example, your little one might collect a few beans together or pick a few carrots. By the time your little one is about three years old they will be able to identify basic vegetable types. When they are this age, give them bags or containers and ask them to sort the vegetables by type. Be prepared to be impressed as your little genius goes about skillfully handling the task ahead. Mum, you have taught them a very good concept through this simple exercise.

Strengthen their motor skills

Mums are usually scared to send their little ones out to play in the garden. After all, they end up getting dirty and messy as who knows what they do with sand! But did you know that psychological studies have shown that when little ones play with water and sand, their motor skills grow by leaps and bounds! This is based on all the types of sensations their senses are exposed to and experience as they play with water and sand. Likewise, when your little one starts playing around with an assortment of vegetables, each with their unique textures, they will learn and understand textural differences of a tomato vs. a carrot and will begin to understand which ones you can hold tightly, and which ones you need to handle more delicately. Your child’s fingers will understand all these differences as they play and test it out, becoming more skilled as they explore the vegetables.

Develop understanding of colours

Nature provides us with such a diverse range of colours and is an ideal platform to help your little one identify and enhance their understanding about colours. It's almost unimaginable who could give so much colour and diversity to the things in this world. As your little one plays around with vegetables they will identify and see various colours. Children normally like red and yellow as these are bright colours. If your child is three years or more they would be easily able to relate that a tomato is red and a brinjal is purple.

Teach mathematical concepts effectively

Who teaches little children maths even before they go to preschool you might think! But did you know you could teach them concepts of mathematics through a little vegetable basket. Do this simple little activity. Give one carrot and say one… give another brinjal and now say two.., do this up to three. Repeat this whenever possible. This might seem too simple and of little value but understanding quantity through actual interaction with these vegetables could give your kids a head start and a solid foundation to understand mathematics.

Expanding their vocabulary

Little ones have their own cute words for everyday objects. This includes ‘moo’ for a cow , ‘joo’ for water and ‘tootoo’ for the bird that sings in the morning. As parents we love to hear their own versions of these words spoken in their own baby accents. Your little one probably won’t be able to say ‘red tomato’ but they will learn to associate red with tomatoes and will even start associating red with the red car that they see next. The more they start speaking these words and associate things, the better they will become at pronouncing and understanding the meaning behinds words. Be warned, they might see a green bean and after some time ask you to buy them a green gown or suit or toy

Identifying things of nature

Your garden might have various plants and hopefully some vegetable plants such as a chilli plant or a brinjal plant. As your little one sees the same vegetables growing in the garden as in the vegetable basket, they will begin to understand that these vegetables come from plants. This will help them grow a healthy appreciation of trees and nature, which is a valuable life lesson.

Understanding sensations

Psychologists often mention that warning a little child that "fire will burn you" will probably not have much impact because they do not understand the concept of burning. However, if your little one has experienced the slight tingling burning sensation of a chilli that touches their skin or the prickly nature of a Bitter gourd, then explaining senses or dangers to your child will become easier as they will have had some experience.

Now you really didn't think all these life lessons could be taught through a simple vegetable basket, right? So why not let your child learn vital lessons and expand their knowledge through your vegetable basket.

Punya Chandani de Silva
Mahaweli National College of Education

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