Head Start Healthy Start Curriculum

My First Garden

Where Food Comes From

Lesson Overview

Students will learn the connection between plants, animals and food that we eat. What do plants and animals need to survive? What are the different parts of a plant? What does organic mean? All questions to explore in Lesson 1: Where Food Comes From.

Preview Lesson
Farmer boy with basket

Activity 1
What Plants Need

Draw diagram of plant on white board. Hand out flash cards with pictures of different things that plants may or may not need to grow. Children place them either with the plant or away from plant diagram depending on whether it is a plant survival need. The coloring page reinforces the lesson.


  • Magnetic white board
  • Dry erase markers
  • Magnets with adhesive back for cards
  • Downloadable Flash Cards: 
Plant Food »
Additional Lesson Content

This activity is meant to help children understand that plants are alive (like they are!) and that they need similar things to survive such as food, water, and air. The students will become stewards of plants’ lives through their garden. This lesson will help them understand what is essential for plants to thrive.

There are four main elements to plant survival that the children should be able to identify and why.

  1. Sun
    Plants need food to grow, just like us. Where do they get this food? Plants have a special relationship with the sun. When the sun shines on plants’ leaves, the plant uses special organs that help to change sunlight into food that the plant needs to grow. This is called photosynthesis.

    If a plant was in a dark closet, it would not be able to make the food that it needs grow and it would not grow strong.

  2. Water
    Like people, plants need water to drink! When we are out playing in the hot sun, we get thirsty; water helps to refresh and replenish the liquids that we need to feel energized and happy. Plants need water in this same way; on a very hot day, a plant without water will start to look and feel droopy, it needs water to be refreshed and happy.

    When we eat a meal, we need a drink of water to help our body use the food for the energy we need. Plants need water in this same way; water helps a plant to process sunlight into food.

    Ever notice how juicy some fruits are? This comes from the water that the plant drinks while the fruit is forming!

  3. Soil
    Healthy soil illustration
    Soil is not just dirt. Soil is also made up of food/nutrients, minerals, and water that the plant needs. Soil is the place where a plant’s feet or roots are buried helping the plant to stand up strong. Plant roots also have a special ability to absorb water or food from the soil that the plant needs to be healthy.

    The soil is also full of life! Some living creatures we can see like earthworms, and some are so small that we can only see them when we use a special tool called a microscope. But all of these creatures in the soil help to make plants happy and healthy. They can create air space and food underground that the roots send to the rest of the plant.

  4. Air
    Plants are living things and they need to breathe air just like we do. They breathe through their leaves. If you put a plant in a glass jar with no air holes, it would not survive when the air is used up.

    Plants also need air space around their roots and their bodies to be healthy. If plants are too crowded together, they may get sick or diseased.

Activity 2
Eating Plant Parts

First, draw diagram of plant on magnetic white board. Discuss different parts of plant and label with children: root, stem, leaf, fruit, flower, seed.

Then, hand out magnetic cards with images of different vegetables and fruits* (can include words in English/Spanish to describe). Children will identify picture, then post it up on the plant diagram to indicate what part of plant the food is that we eat. Discuss other ideas of different foods that relate to different plant parts.

*You can also use pictures from seed catalogues for variety and quality photos for flash cards — an inexpensive way to make quality resources!


View Guide to Edible Plant Parts
Beets, Carrots, Garlic, Onions, Potatoes, Radish, Scallions, Sweet Potatoes
Asparagus, Celery, Scallions
Cabbage, Kale, Lettuce, Parsley, Cilantro, Collards, Spinach
Broccoli, Cauliflower, Artichoke
Peppers, Cantaloupe, Cucumber, Eggplant, Pumpkin, Squash, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Zucchini
Corn, Green Beans, Peas, Sunflower Seeds, Popcorn, Chickpeas / Garbonzo Beans

Activity 3
Where Does Food Come From?

Discuss with children how a lot of our food comes from animals. Then play a game that matches images of different animal products to their source (eg. chickens/eggs; cows/milk; bees/honey). Use magnetic flash cards. Tack up pictures of animals and pictures of their products. Invite children to come up and draw a line between the animal and the food that they give. Use different colors for different animals.


Activity 4
What Does Organic Mean?

Healthy soil = healthy food = healthy people.

Healthy soil illustration

Look at the cutout of healthy soil and talk about the life in the soil that helps everything grow: microscopic organisms, worms, insects, etc. Can also download an example of close up of healthy soil from the internet. Clip art works well. Explain the idea of using poisons to kill bugs or weeds, but how that also kills the “good” organisms too.

Additional Lesson Content

We have already discussed how important healthy soil is to the life of plants. Healthy soil is more than just dirt, remember it contains all kinds of life and living creatures that work together with plants to help them grow to be healthy. Healthy plants growing in healthy soil produce lots of healthy food for people and other animals.

Some farmers and gardeners spray bug killers on their plants because they think they are protecting the food they are growing. The problem with this is that these sprays not only kill the bugs that eat the plants, but they also kill the creatures that help the plants to be healthy both in the soil and the air.

Earthworms create air and add nutrients to the soil to help the plant grow to be healthy. Bees and butterflies visit and pollinate flowers, which helps the plants to produce their fruits. If we spray these plants with “bug killers” these important creatures could also be harmed.

Recommended Books

The Tiny Seed book cover

Eric Carle

The Tiny Seed

This classic is the story the life cycle of a flower told through the adventures of a tiny seed.

Read More On Amazon

Diary of a Worm book cover

Doreen Kronin

Diary of a Worm

Written in diary form, this truly hilarious picture book tracks the ins and outs of a worm's life from the perspective of the worm family's young son.

Read More On Amazon


Connecting Plant Parts

Cut out different parts of plants (roots, stem, leaf, flower, fruit). Children will glue them together, and can label parts as time permits.

Craft Enhancements
  • Use wax “Wikki Stix” or pipe cleaners to make different parts of plants, then glue to paper.
  • Glue bean seed to paper/paper plate. Students will draw roots, stem, leaves, flower, fruit.


  • Paper Plates
  • Construction Paper
  • Crayons
  • Bean Seeds
  • Wikki Stix
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Glue Sticks


Tasting Plant Parts

Taste different foods that come from different plant parts. For example: celery/stem; carrot/root; snap peas/seed; lettuce/leaf.

Note: Remember to always check in with student allergy limitations before making snack!