Performing Rah, Rah, Radishes: a Vegetable Chant

Act It Out!

Divide students (or teachers) into pairs or small groups. Have each group write out and learn a stanza (four lines). They can decide how to perform it. Here are some aspects of the chant that performers have tried in the past:

saying the entire chant in unison

saying only part in unison

alternating speakers for each word

popping up then sitting down for each speaking turn

adding claps, snaps, and arm shapes

making poster art for each vegetable

bringing real vegetables to show when each is mentioned

Audio samples to help in teaching and reading Rah, Rah, Radishes: a Vegetable Chant and April Pulley Sayre’s other chant books (Trout, Trout, Trout: A Fish Chant; Ant, Ant, Ant: An Insect Chant; and Bird, bird, Bird: a Chirping Chant) are available on the front page of or at

Rah, Rah, Radishes: A Vegetable Chant Extensions

Here are some concepts to explore during small group and one-on-one readings of Rah, Rah, Radishes: A Vegetable Chant:

Colors and shapes. Engage young readers in discussing what they observe about vegetable colors and frame colors. Study other qualities such as bright, dark, and shiny.

Patterns. Quantities. Are the vegetables dumped straight onto a table? Are they organized in any way? How? Why do you think they are in boxes, piles, and small groups? Who do you think organizes them and why?

Different and the same. Which vegetables are the same? Which are different? Which show up in several parts of the book? Be a vegetable detective!

Vegetable identities. Are there any vegetables your students cannot identify? Research to find other photos of them and compare to the chant photos. (See other books and websites such as the author’s for additional photos.) Even better, bring in the real veggies for hands on study, cross section, drawing, and tasting. Encourage students to use all their senses!

Vegetable math. Encourage readers to count the vegetables. Advanced students might calculate or discuss how much it might cost to buy three baskets, four boxes, and other amounts of vegetables in photos that have prices.

Vegetable art. One of the best ways to know something is to draw it. Why not bring in some live vegetables for children to draw so they can study vegetable colors and shapes?

For garden, harvest, and vegetable book pairings and activities, see the

“In My Garden” handout prepared by children’s librarian Heather Acerro of Allen County, IN.

Rah, Rah, Radishes Booktalk and Shelf Talker

Rah, Rah, Radishes!: A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre. New York: Beach Lane Books/S&S, 2011.

Shelf talker (written teaser): What vegetable rhymes with “oh boy”?


Keep the front cover of the book hidden. Show the back cover of the book. Ask the audience: “What do you think this book is about?” (Listen/discuss audience suggestions.)

“Hmm…good ideas! Let’s taste a few words and see if you’re right.”

“Repeat after me. Rah, rah, radishes!” (Audience: Rah, rah, radishes.)

“Red and white.” (Audience: Red and white!)

“Carrots are calling.” (Audience: Carrots are calling.)

“Take a bite!” (Audience: Take a bite!)

“This book is about . . .” (Turn over and show cover) “Vegetables! It’s also about exploring a farmer’s market and tasting rhythm and rhyme.”

Fruit and Veggie Links

Just beginning to research veggie links that might be useful for classrooms/educators. Here are a few. Feel free to suggest more

Growing Chefs
Food Education from Field to Farm
Founded by Annie Novak, co-founder of Eagle Street Rooftop Farm. Offers gardening, workshops, consulting, education. Based in NYC.

Asian Vegetables

Asian grocery stores are great places to veggie adventure. I’m still learning the names and uses of the fresh produce. Below are some of the vegetables I saw on a recent grocery trip.  Feel free to email me if you can i.d. my mystery roots.

Chinese yam
unknown root
Thai okra
Lotus root
Chive flowers
Gobo or burdock root
banana flower

Vegetables That Did Not Make the Cut

Here are some of the main vegetables we could not fit in the rhythm, rhyme, space of Rah, Rah, Radishes: A Vegetable Chant.

1st row: artichoke, avocado, banana squash, and, on the right side of the 4th  photo, bitter melon.

2nd row: celery root, okra, prickly pear leaves, rhubarb.

3rd row: rhubarb, taro root, turban squash, wax beans.

In Praise of Parsnips

In Praise of Parsnips

How I got along for decades without knowing parsnips…well, it just boggles the mind.  I asked my mom, and she hardly knew parsnips, either, though she’s from New England and we grew plenty of veggies when I was growing up in South Carolina. Yet here I am, a grown woman, and I’ve kind of fallen for this humble-looking veggie. I seek them out.

Give me a tray of roasted veggies—sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, parnsips. I’ll choose the parsnips. Even try to hog an extra few by the machinations of my spoon. Parsnips are sweet, nutty, never with that old carrot flavor. They put carrots to shame if roasted.

So, I’m starting the campaign here and now. If other folks don’t start eating them, the parsnip will just languish. Our local grocers and farmers won’t keep farming and supplying them. Already, it’s kind of specialty, side-item, for which they get fewer sales. Jack at Hovenkamp’s Produce puzzles over the underrated parsnip, too.

Yup, once you meet a good parsnip, it kinda grows on you. I’ve noticed that Top Chef and other gourmet shows spring mashed parsnip on a lot of diners, with good results. But mashing…I have not tried it. I advocate roasted.

It’s simple. Cut parsnips in small pieces, say 1/2 inch cubes or so. Toss in a bit of oil and salt. Put in a 425 oven for 40 minutes or so. Check after 25 minutes because sometimes they go a bit faster. They should be just fork-tender, and with a little bit of browning. Scrumptious.

Mix diced onions, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, apples, and the like with the parsnips, if you like. Just remember that If I’m visiting your parsnip to other veggie ratio will mysteriously shift as I fish them out of the pan.

Oh, and yes ,they are healthy. Low in calories. contain all kinds of B vitamins, calcium, fiber, folic acid, iron, vitamin C, and so on.

You can also eat them raw, on salads. I haven’t tried them yet. Give me time. I will!

Here are some parsnip resources for curious folks:

Parsnip pancakes. Gotta try these!

Growing parsnips

There also seems to be a band called the “Parsnip Revolt.”

Can’t vouch for them.

I did manage a page for parsnips in my upcoming children’s book, Rah, Rah, Radishes: A Vegetable Chant. (June, 2011, BLB/Simon&Schuster). But really, I was tempted to give them the whole book. Party with Parsnips! Pro-Parsnip! Even saying their name is fun. You know how I love lively words!