Herbs and potatoes: Discussions and investigations - teaching demonstration

While children explore herbs and dig up potatoes, the educator engages them in discussion, extends upon their thinking and use of language, and encourages exploration and discovery.

Through these interactions, she engages them in discussion, extends upon their thinking and use of language, and encourages exploration and discovery.

In this video, the educator creates hands-on experiences for children while they are exploring herbs and digging up potatoes. Through these interactions, she engages them in discussion, extends upon their thinking and use of language, and encourages exploration and discovery.

Watch on Vimeo: Herbs and potatoes - discussions and investigations (opens in new window)(opens in a new window).

Reflective practice


  • The educator’s use of a mix of open-ended and closed questions to extend the conversations.
  • The educator’s extensions of children’s language, and building upon their ideas.
  • The topics of conversation brought up during the investigation.
  • The children’s understandings of the potatoes they found during the experience.

Reflection questions

  • How does the educator support children’s thinking and discussion during the experience?
  • What are some similar opportunities to create hands-on experiences in your own setting?
  • What ideas did the educator suggest for where to go next with the learning in this experience?

Learning experience plan

This learning experience plan relates:

  • interacting with others
  • early language users, language and emergent literacy learners (24 - 60 months)
  • learning focus/Foci: grammar, explanations, sharing Information
  • teaching Practice(s): discussions and investigations, play (interacting with others).

Outcome 4: learning

  • Use play to investigate, imagine and explore ideas
  • Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes.

Victorian Curriculum Levels F-2: language and literacy

  • Understand that language can be used to explore ways of expressing needs, likes and dislikes
  • Understand the use of vocabulary in familiar contexts related to everyday experiences, personal interests and topics taught at school.

Learning intentions

  • Developing children's discussion and conversation skills, by extending the language they are using.
  • Creating opportunities for concept development and language learning, driven by children's interests in the experience.

Assessment of learning

This is demonstrated when children:

  • participate in a back-and-forth discussion about the potato digging
  • respond to opportunities for concept/vocabulary learning, by showing links between their prior knowledge and the new knowledge created during the experience.


  • Potato patch (or equivalent)
  • Digging implements
  • Tub or bucket to carry.

Group size

Small group (2-5 children).

Experience process

Ask children if they would like to join you for a potato digging experience.

  1. Use a mix of closed and open-ended questions to stimulate discussion. For example:

    • “Where should we dig first?” (closed question)
    • “I wonder what the potatoes will look like…” (open-ended question)
    • What do you think we could do with the potatoes?” (open-ended question)
    • Does this potato look big enough?” (closed question)
  2. Whatever children say, try to build on it with more words and longer sentences. For example:

    • Child: Look! A potato! Educator: Yes. It’s a very small potato.
    • Child: Let’s find one! Educator: Let’s keep looking for a bigger one!
    • Child: This one is the smallest. Educator: It’s the smallest potato we have found all day!
  3. Use more complex language and concepts to embed new learning within the interaction:

    • Describe nouns (person, place, thing): “Here’s the very small, pink potato.”
    • Describe locations (using prepositions): “Can we get the potato to stay on top of our shovel? It keeps slipping off, and back into the hole!”
    • Use more detail about when something is being done: “I have finished digging for today. We have dug so many potatoes!”
    • Talk about how something is occurring:”You are digging up potatoes so fast! You’re working like a super digger!”
    • Use thinking and feeling verbs: “I want to find the biggest potato!” “What do you think you will find?”

Going further

This experience can be extended by:

  • using the potatoes in a cooking experience
  • using the potatoes the children have found as stimuli for fine arts or writing experiences
  • learning more about how potatoes grow, and planting a new batch of potatoes.

Related videos and experience plans


Experience plans