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Bunches of Bananas

Bananas are a ubiquitous fruit—but what do children really know about them? Explore how banana plants grow, their fibers are used, and ways they are eaten in diverse cultures.

  • Grade 2
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Together research how bananas grow. Find out how children and adults in some areas of the world use banana leaves and fiber. Discover the many yummy ways that people in diverse cultures eat this remarkable fruit. A wonderfully informative book written especially for young children is Bunches & Bunches: How Bananas Grow in Rwanda published by TEACH Rwanda.
    2. Find families in the community who have lived or traveled in areas where bananas grow. Ask them to explain to the class what they know about bananas.
    3. Ask families to find different varieties of bananas in local markets. Look for several colors. Which types of bananas are eaten green? Which ones are cooked? Who likes ripe yellow bananas, and who prefers greener ones? Encourage families to taste test bananas with children at home and write about their discoveries. Children share their findings with the class.
    4. In class, talk about the bananas children tasted. What textures were the banana skins and fruit? Describe the taste of different bananas (try red/purple ones!). Compare the sizes and shapes of different bananas. How do they smell? Which ones are easy or hard to cut and peel? How long does it take a green banana to get ripe? What will help it ripen faster?
    5. Ask families to make a favorite banana recipe with their children to eat at home. It might be fruit salad, fried plantains, banana pudding, boiled bananas, or bananas on a stick, for example. Children, with adult assistance, write their family recipe and bring it to school.
    6. Each child uses Crayola® Watercolor Colored Pencils to complete at least one original page for a class book using their family’s banana recipe. Children might illustrate each step, decorate borders around their recipes, design covers or chapter dividers, draw a sequence of how bananas grow, and otherwise elaborate on their recipes.
    7. Show children new art techniques, such as how to use a damp brush to soften the edges of the colored pencil lines, fill spaces, and create other effects. Demonstrate how they can dip the pencil in water and then draw, to get really intense color.
    8. Guide children to assemble their recipes to make one book. Together, agree on how to sort the recipes, such as by type of banana, when the dishes are eaten, or other logical criteria. Create a table of contents. Photograph or scan each page. Provide a pdf of the recipe book for each family. Post the book on the school Web site.
  • Standards

    LA: Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

    LA: Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).

    MATH: Represent and interpret data.

    SS: Explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.

    SS: Work independently and cooperatively to accomplish goals.

    SCI: Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

    VA: Experiment with various materials and tools to explore personal interests in a work of art or design.

    VA: Categorize artwork based on a theme or concept for an exhibit.

  • Adaptations

    Look for the seeds in bananas. How do banana plants grow if there are no seeds? Find out!

    Invent and experiment with recipes using bananas. Make charts to show children’s preferences, such as: yellow/green/red, or cooked/green/ripe.

    Show children how to use strips of brown paper bags (or banana fiber if available) to weave hats, baskets, or placemats. Who can make a jump rope or a ball with banana fiber? Invent uses for the fibers.

    Demonstrate how children can cut or tear bits of brown paper to make banana fiber-like mosaics and greeting cards.

    With the children, find out more about Rwanda and other countries where bananas flourish. Why do bananas grow well there? Why do you think banana fiber and fruits are used in so many different ways in that country?

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