I’m always looking for new ways to safely incorporate foods into my therapy sessions when permitted. I especially love integrating healthy foods as an opportunity to discuss good nutrition with my students. It makes my activities not only fun but functional and valuable life lessons that I hope remain with them beyond their years in the classroom! So this month, in celebration of Valentine’s Day as well as American Heart Month, I am introducing an activity that addresses HEARTS, HEALTH and HOMOPHONES! Your younger students and older students alike will have fun making these hearts while getting their fingers (temporarily) stained with the naturally vibrant coloring of this veggie! So let’s get started and…..
1. Make some HEARTS (with beets!)
2. Improve our HEALTH (with beets!!)
3. Learn about HOMOPHONES (with beets!!!) and use this activity in my TpT store to teach them many more vocabulary words that are also homophones!
For starters, you will need a few large beets and some heart shaped cookie cutters. I prefer the metal cookie cutters to the plastic ones since it’s easier to cut out the beets with them. And while you’re at it, let your kids come up with a list of words that describe the beets–they can touch and smell them to help generate some ideas. You can wash, peel and cut some up and let them taste the raw beets as well. (You’d be surprised how many kids have never even seen a beet before, let alone eat one!) Here are some facts about beets to share with your students:
- Beets are root vegetables.
- Rich in vitamin B, minerals and fiber.
- You can eat the green tops in a salad.
- Beets tastes pretty similar to cooked carrots.
- You can put beets in a salad, pickle them, boil them, put them in a soup—called borscht, in a cake (yup, check out an old post I wrote that includes a recipe for beet cake) and some people even like to drink beet juice!
- Since the 16th century, beet juice has been used as a natural red dye. It was even used as a hair dye.
- Beets were an important plant for both the ancient Greeks and Romans.
- Beets can help improve digestive system problems and help promote healthy cholesterol levels.
Be sure to lay out some wax paper on a solid surface, or use a cutting board.
Slice your beets about one half inch to one inch in thickness.
Press a metal cookie cutter firmly into the beet slice.
You will have a bevy of “heart beets” when you are finished!
As another option, you can parboil some heart shaped beets ahead of time at home. The softened cooked beets will produce a deeper red color when pressed onto the paper. Raw beets will produce a brighter coloration.
Press the heart shaped beets onto heavy art paper. Press firmly and evenly in order to get the full shape imprinted onto the paper. Let your students decide how they want to arrange the design of the beets on their page.
While pressing out the hearts, students can use this activity as a reinforcer while practicing targeted goals for articulation, fluency and language skills! Once the hearts have dried, you can write words with their targeted speech sounds or new vocabulary onto the hearts. You can also ask them to recall the healthy facts they have learned about beets and write the information onto their papers.
When finished, you can write the phrase “My heart beets for you!” on their paper or come up with another phrase that uses the words “heart beet.” Explain to your student that this word is called a homophone because while it is pronounced one way, it has more than one meaning and spelling (BEET/BEAT)! Student can take their special projects home and share them with their favorite Valentine!
This little project inspired me to create a homophone language activity for my TpT store: I Heart Homophones.
The vocabulary is most appropriate for upper grades. Now I can teach my middle and high school students many, many more words that have more than one meaning and spelling!!! You can check it out here!!
Are you intrigued by beets now?? Want to share a way you can turn this into a delicious and healthy Valentine salad to prepare at home? First, cut out some beets with a cookie cutter. Then, throw them into a pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes—I like to just parboil them to preserve the vitamin value and vibrant color. Next, drain the water from your pot and let the beets cool. Finally, lay them on top of a bed of mixed greens with a light balsamic dressing. You’ve got a wonderfully healthy way to share the love this Valentine’s Day—or any day of the year (you can almost always find beets in season in the grocery store!)