July 7, 2017 Vegetables

At my nursery, we have been using real fruit & vegetables in the home corner for years.

The reasons – using real items gives children so many more opportunities than handling plastic representations. Opportunities to peel leaves back and explore the numerous layers beneath.

Opportunities to smell the items, investigating the array of smells that fill their noses.

The touch & texture of rough cabbage leaves or the sound of peas popping out the pod.

The opportunity to hold small sprouts in tiny hands or feel the weight of a pumpkin.

Inspiring curiosity as children handle or taste items that they have never encounter before.

How many children have been given time and space to unwrap a red cabbage layer by layer?

To use spoons, scoops or tweezers to ladle out a stringy pumpkin?

Or simply to use the real items when playing; providing opportunities for conversation, language and thinking critically. To count and explore mathematical concepts; weight, size & measure.

Using real vegetables & fruit provides endless opportunities for curiosity, awe and wonder. To explore and investigate, to develop following a holistic approach.


Real versus plastic: 

Plastic feels the same, smells the same, same weight, same size, same glossy appearance both inside and out.

When have you ever seen a watermelon the size of an orange with Velcro inside?

Yes, it encourages cutting skills, but so does cutting carrots or chopping up a cucumber!

Let children experience the real deal – value their play! 

You don’t have to be wasteful, if you’re worried about using food items in play due to your ethical views – then use kitchen items that are over their use by date. Grow your own items, so that children learn about where items come from. Learning about the natural world & how incredible Mother Nature is. Ask at the local grocery store for items that are being taken off the shelves.  Local fruit & veg market stalls – have spoilt goods that they’d happily donate to a worthy cause

The children at my nursery absolutely love authentic resources and feel that as educators we are placing their play as an important part of learning. Giving play the value it deserves. Instead of trying to pass off their play as a frivolous period of time that’s just ‘pretend’.

Celebrate how incredible your learners are and most importantly listen to the incredible stories they act out when negotiating with their peers.  Learning starts when they first start to negotiate with ideas, planning roles and responsibilities. If you wait for the ‘play’ to start you’ll have missed the majority of incredible learning. The self-regulation that is so incredible & amazingly important.

Real fruit & vegetables VERSUS plastic – which will you choose?? 

This article was written by Stephanie Bennett, One of the Co-founders of The Curiosity Approach, alongside Lyndsey Hellyn. We're more than just another consultancy company, together we want to impact on early years. To make a change to the educational system. To inspire practitioners to bring back curiosity, awe and wonder to childhood and to the lives of educators.

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