Science Fact: Difference Between Sweet Potatoes & Yams

Although sweet potatoes and yams are both flowering plants (angiosperms), they do not have a botanical relationship.  Here are some facts from the Library of Congress:

  • Sweet potatoes have two embryonic seed leaves (dicot).
  • Yams have one embryonic seed leaf (monocot).
  • Sweet potatoes come from the Morning Glory family (Convolvulacea).
  • Yams come from the Yam family (Dioscoreaceae).
  • Sweet potatoes can be either firm or soft.  The soft variety is what we call “yams” in the United States.
  • Yams are starchier and drier than sweet potatoes and are native to Africa and Asia.

Firm sweet potatoes were introduced in the U.S. before the soft variety.  When the soft variety became available, they were called “yams” to differentiate between the two types.  Today, the USDA requires that potatoes with the label of “yam” also have “sweet potato” on the label because they are really sweet potatoes and not yams.

Now Featuring: Make a Candy Corn Wreath

Credit: Free pictures from
Christi at Frugal Novice made the cutest Candy Corn Wreath with her two little boys.  She found this project  from Women’s Day.  This is an excellent craft project for a family or for a class. If this is done with a class, two or three students could come up at a time and glue on their candy corn. Be sure and have extra candy corn for nibbling!

(By the way, Christi just happens to be our daughter, and the two little boys just happen to be our adorable grandsons!)

Thanksgiving: Activities & Books for Children

We made the turkey pictured below when our son was in kindergarten.   His “homework” was a family project where everyone in the family had to contribute to the making of this turkey.   Well, as you can imagine, we  have used it to decorate for Thanksgiving as part of our family tradition for over a dozen years now.  Amazingly, the cereal is still in great shape.



The colonists celebrated their first Thanksgiving in 1621 to give thanks to God for their harvest, and the Wampanoag tribe were the native Americans who celebrated with the colonists.  This took place at Plymouth Plantation.

Abraham Lincoln is the president who decided that Thanksgiving would fall on the last Thursday of November.


  • Have student work with their family to decorate a turkey picture such as the one pictured above.  Glue the turkey onto poster board and cut out the turkey shape, or better yet, print the turkey out on card stock.  Color and decorate with ribbon, buttons, cereal, etc.  Make sure every family member adds something to the turkey. This turkey will probably be used by the family for many years to decorate for Thanksgiving.    A great addition to this family fun project would be to write what each family member is thankful for along the feathers of the turkey.
  • Have student trace their hand to make a turkey.  The thumb is the head of the turkey.  The four fingers are the feathers.  Draw turkey legs on the bottom and finish adding the details of the turkey.  In the middle of the palm, write “I am thankful for…” and then on each finger name something the student is thankful for.
  • Trace students hands on red, orange, and yellow pieces of construction paper.  Cut them out.  Curl the fingers just a little bit on the ends.  Overlap the hands to form the body of a turkey and glue onto cardboard.  Draw a turkey head and turkey feet to go with the body.  This can be a small turkey to fit onto a piece of construction paper, a medium size turkey to fit onto a piece of poster board, or a very large turkey to fit onto a long sheet of bulletin board paper.
  • Have students decorate Pillsbury Turkey Sugar Cookies for a fun turkey project.  Use icing for the “glue.”  Glue 6-8 pieces of Candy Corn along the top edge of the cookie with the candy pointing downward.  Glue 2 M&Ms in the middle of the cookie for the eyes.  Use a small tube of icing to form the beak underneath the eyes (a small v-shape).  Use the icing to make turkey feet at the bottom of the cookie.


  • The turkey was first domesticated in Mexico and Central America.
  • A female turkey is called a hen.
  • The sound a female turkey makes is called a cluck.
  • A male turkey is called a tom.
  • The sound a male turkey makes is called a gobble.
  • The skin that hangs from a turkey’s neck is called a wattle.
  • A mature turkey has 3,500 feathers.
  • Wild turkeys can run 25 miles per hour.
  • Wild turkeys can fly up to 55 miles per hour.
  • Minnesota produces the most turkeys annually.
  • Benjamin Franklin lobbied to make the turkey the national symbol.
  • Approximately 90% of American homes eat turkey on Thanksgiving.
  • The best way to defrost a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator.


  • Thanksgiving by Miriam Nerlove.  Good for ages 3-6.  Has not only a brief overview of the first Thanksgiving feast but also a modern-day family’s visit to Grandma’s house for a celebration.
  • Thanksgiving Is For Giving Thanks (Reading Railroad Book Series) by Margaret Sutherland.  Good for ages 3-6.   A child tells everything he is thankful for.
  • Dora’s Thanksgiving (Dora the Explorer Series) by Sarah Willson.  Good for ages 3-7.  Find out what Dora is thankful for.
  • Just So Thankful (Little Critter Series)  by Mercer Mayer.  Good for ages 3-7.  Little Critter is jealous of things his rich friend has but then learns what to truly be thankful for.
  • Thanksgiving:  A Harvest Celebration by Julie Stiegemeyer.  Good for ages 4-10.  This is a book with beautiful illustrations.  It emphasizes the faith of the characters.
  • Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes.   Good for ages 4-7.   Children tell about the people and things they are thankful for.  Beautiful illustrations.
  • The Night Before Thanksgiving by Natasha Wing.  Good for ages 4-8.   “Twas the night before Thanksgiving when…”
  • Thanksgiving on Thursday (Magic Tree House Series #27) by Mary Pope Osborne.  Good for ages 6-9.  Jack and Annie experience the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and Indians.