October 2022 Newsletter – Exploring Healthy Foods: Build a Nutrition Resource Library

Build a Nutrition Resource Library

There is so much information out there related to nutrition, food safety, and healthy eating; too much to fit into one binder.  You may decide to make a binder available to families, but it may be a better idea to curate an online nutrition resource.  Using a platform such as Pinterest comes to mind when considering this endeavor.  All resources can be stored in organized folders that can be marked private for enrolled families only or you might keep the folders public as a way to demonstrate your program’s commitment to the children and families in your care.

Here are a few resources that you can explore, regardless of how you decide to organize and share them:

My Plate

  • Information relating to the USDA meal planning tool.

Team Nutrition

  • This resource aims to support schools and child care programs as they implement healthy food service programs.

Kids in the Kitchen

  • Resources to teach children about food and kitchen safety.

Action for Healthy Kids

  • Resources and activity ideas for healthy eating and living for kids of all ages.

We Can!

  • Provides resource ideas for healthy eating, staying active, and reducing screen time.

Let’s Move!

  • Archived activities and resources from the White House initiative on healthy living.

Healthy Kids, Healthy Future

  • Resources for ECE providers, trainers, parents, and local leaders.

Super Healthy Kids

  • Activity ideas for teaching young children about nutrition.

Nutrition Standards for CACFP Meals and Snacks

  • All the information a program would need to meet CACFP meal planning standards and much more!

 

For the main article Exploring Healthy Foods, CLICK HERE

For the article Nutrition-Related Early Learning Standards, CLICK HERE

For the article Nutrition-Related Activity Ideas for Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Nutrition-Related Family Engagement Ideas, CLICK HERE

October 2022 Newsletter – Exploring Health Foods: Nutrition-Related Family Engagement Ideas

Nutrition-Related Family Engagement Ideas

Because food is such a universal experience, nutrition-related activities are a great way to invite families to engage with your program. Here are a few tips you can incorporate:

  • Include a Nutrition Tips section in every newsletter. This section should encourage families to explore healthy snack recipes and provide substitution options for popular less-than-healthy foods.
  • Social media posts. Use social media to communicate with current and potential families about the healthy habits you are helping children establish. Be sure to include a call to action in your posts so families can engage with the post.
  • Quizzes with prizes. Periodically, send out a quiz question about healthy eating. Pull a winner from all the families who submit the correct answer.  Highlight the winners (with permission) on social media or other program communication.
  • Inexpensive snack to-go bags can be provided to families. This could be something that children prepare on a Friday for consumption over the weekend. The snack bags could also be put together by staff members and set out in baskets during pick-up time.
  • Collect healthy recipes for a program-wide cookbook. Ask families (and staff) to include pictures of the food items and of them preparing the recipe with their children.
  • Host family cooking events. Brainstorm easy, healthy recipes that families and children could prepare together during an open house event. Invite the community to draw new families or encourage families to bring their friends and relatives.
  • Invite speakers to share their knowledge and ideas with families during family events. Again, invite the community to participate in the event to spread the word about your program.
  • Create a healthy food committee. Ask families to sit on a healthy living committee. These individuals could be responsible for advising on menu changes and substitutions, contributing to the Nutrition Tips section of the newsletter, and sharing social media posts.
  • Promote or host health-related community events. Let families know when healthy living expos and events are planned in your community. If this is not something that regularly happens in your community, you may want to take on organizing one yourself, hosted at the child care facility.
  • Share resources with families. When you come across reputable resources, pass them along to families.

 

For the main article Exploring Healthy Foods, CLICK HERE

For the article Nutrition-Related Early Learning Standards, CLICK HERE

For the article Nutrition-Related Activity Ideas for Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Build a Nutrition Resource Library, CLICK HERE

October 2022 Newsletter – Exploring Healthy Foods: Nutrition-Related Activity Ideas for Children

Nutrition-Related Activity Ideas for Children

Below are just a few of the possible activities and project ideas that incorporate the learning standards covered in the previous section.  Be sure to become familiar with the learning standards used in your state so you can make the most of these engaging activities.

Food Project – How does food reach our table?

  • Investigate how foods are grown, harvested, processed, transported, stored, sold, prepared, etc. Invite people who work at each step of the process to speak to your class.  You may be able to involve family members who work in some aspect of the food chain.  It’s ok if your initial list of steps omits a link in the food chain – the children may discover it as the project progresses.  For details about setting up projects, consider reviewing the May 2022 edition of the CCEI newsletter.

Visit local food-related destinations.

  • Whether part of a project or a stand-alone field trip, take community walks to local food-related destinations in your community. You may choose to visit a farmer’s market, orchard, strawberry patch, grocery store, or restaurant. Brainstorm a list of questions that you want to ask the employees of the establishment before you go.  Ask for volunteers to ask these pre-determined questions while on the trip.

Host a tasting party.

  • This is a great way to get children excited about trying new foods. Be sure to avoid known food allergies and foods from the list of common food allergens.  Arrange foods into a bracket – think college basketball. Gather votes at each stage of the tasting bracket to determine the best-tasting food.

Healthy snack competitions are a great way to incorporate a little friendly competition between classrooms.

  • Work with the children to create a healthy and tasty snack recipe that could be shared with other classes. Recipes could be found in cookbooks or magazines or completely made up. Be sure to incorporate healthy ingredients. Again, hold a vote to see which snack recipe is the favorite.

Another program-wide competition.

  • This option involves each teacher surveying children about the number of fruits and vegetables they ate the previous day. The class with the highest number of fruits and vegetables wins! Survey questions could focus on a different aspect of healthy living each month.

Play a matching game using recipe instructions.

  • Hide measuring tools (measuring cups, spoons, liquid measuring cups, etc.) and plastic food items or pictures of ingredients around the room. Have children pick a random food item out of one hat and a measurement tool out of another hat. Then encourage them to look around the room to find the two items.

Talk about what foods do.

  • Regularly talk with children about the vitamins and minerals found in the foods they are eating. Share with children how those elements support growth and development in the body.

Follow the recipe.

  • Without a doubt, cooking activities engage children’s minds and bodies. Consider how cooking activities are currently being conducted. For best results, cooking activities should be conducted in small groups. This allows more participation and engagement for children. When cooking activities are done with the whole group, most children watch while only a few participate. Also, be sure to create illustrated recipes for children to follow since they cannot yet read. Use images from magazines or take pictures of the ingredients and measuring tools to attach to the steps of the recipe. Examples of visual recipes can be found here.

General Food Safety Lessons.

  • Handwashing – Continue to promote independence and hygiene by monitoring and coaching children as they wash their hands.
  • Cross contamination and temperature concerns – Talk with children about how some ingredients may contain germs and ways to prevent the spread of those germs. Teach children that germs grow in warm temperatures, which is why it is important to keep the refrigerator closed.
  • Food allergies – Children should be aware of the types of foods that cause allergic reactions and what those reactions look like. This will help normalize food allergies, promote self-advocacy, and build empathy.
  • Family-style dining practices – If you are not currently serving meals in a family-style manner, introduce it! Work with children to come up with the guidelines that will be followed during meals such as how to pass foods around the table, how to ask for seconds, and how to refrain from licking serving spoons!
  • Safety in the kitchen – Whether you are going to cut up fruit or cook baked goods or not, children should be aware of the dangers that exist in the kitchen. Create kitchen safety plans that children can take home to share with their family members.

Here is a resource with more ideas: https://healthbeet.org/engaging-nutrition-activities-and-games-for-kids/

 

For the main article Exploring Healthy Foods, CLICK HERE

For the article Nutrition-Related Early Learning Standards, CLICK HERE

For the article Nutrition-Related Family Engagement Ideas, CLICK HERE

For the article Build a Nutrition Resource Library, CLICK HERE

October 2022 Newsletter – Exploring Healthy Foods: Nutrition-Related Early Learning Standards

Nutrition-Related Early Learning Standards

When you take a moment to think about it, there are a ton of naturally-occurring learning opportunities in nutrition and cooking activities.  Here are just a few examples of early learning standards across the country that can be promoted during nutrition-related activities:

From Pennsylvania:

  • Standard 10.1 PK.C: Identify foods that keep your body healthy.
    • Identify healthy and unhealthy foods.
    • Classify foods by food groups.
    • Make healthy food choices.

From California:

  • Nutrition Choices 2.2: Indicate food preferences that reflect familial and cultural practices.
  • Observation and Investigation 1.3: Begin to identify and use, with adult support, some observation and measurement tools.
  • Documentation and Communication 2.1: Record observations or findings in various ways, with adult assistance, including pictures, words (dictated to adults), charts, journals, models, and photos.

From Oklahoma:

  • S.3: Notice and describe similarities and differences among plants, animals, and objects.
  • S.4: Share noticings and wonderings about the physical and natural world.
  • S.6: Engage in investigations based on curiosity and wondering about the physical and natural world.

From Florida:

  • Mathematical Thinking (Three-year-olds):
    • 5: Shows beginning understanding of spatial relationships and position words.
    • 7: Engages in activities that explore measurement.
  • Scientific Thinking (Three-year-olds):
    • 1: Uses senses to collect information through observation and exploration.
    • 2: Begins to use simple tools for observing and investigation.

From Texas:

  • PK4.IX.C.3 Child identifies good habits of nutrition and exercise.
  • PK4.V.D.2 Child recognizes and compares capacity based on how much space exists within an object.
  • PK4.II.D.1 Child understands (receptive) and uses (expressive) a wide variety of words to label, describe and make connections among objects, people, places, actions, and events.

From Michigan:

  • Social Studies 6: People and Their Environment. Children increase their understanding of the relationship between people and their environment and begin to recognize the importance of taking care of the resources in their environment.
  • Health, Safety and Nutrition 8: Healthy Eating. Children become aware of and begin to develop nutritional habits that contribute to good health.

From New Hampshire:

  • Nutrition: Try healthy foods from a variety of cultures when given the opportunity.
  • Vocabulary development: Try healthy foods from a variety of cultures when given the opportunity.
  • Representational process: Aware that some symbols represent words and numbers.

With some creative planning, activities that build nutrition awareness can also promote social skills, mathematical and scientific thinking, and cultural awareness.  Food is universal; everyone has experiences with food that they can share. Focusing on food and nutrition can support community-building efforts and strengthen children’s sense of identity.

Check out the rest of the newsletter for activity ideas you can use with children and families.

 

For the main article Exploring Healthy Foods, CLICK HERE

For the article Nutrition-Related Activity Ideas for Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Nutrition-Related Family Engagement Ideas, CLICK HERE

For the article Build a Nutrition Resource Library, CLICK HERE

October 2022 Newsletter – Exploring Healthy Foods

Exploring Healthy Foods

Welcome to October – the month that ends with a candy-filled celebration and leads directly into the holiday season.  Suffice it to say, we are heading into a period of the year when many people find it challenging to maintain a healthy diet.

It is during these challenging times, that strong healthy eating habits are most helpful. Most habits, positive or otherwise, are established early in life.  If you have ever tried to form a new habit as an adult, you may have noticed that it can be quite difficult.  This is one reason that experts strongly recommend that young children learn about healthy eating habits early in life.

Understanding healthy eating practices and following a healthy diet doesn’t mean that we avoid an occasional piece of Halloween candy.  It doesn’t mean that we have to leave family gatherings before dessert is served or avoid walking by the dessert buffet.  It does mean that we understand how the foods we eat impact the body and make decisions based on that information.

In this month’s newsletter, we will focus on ways that early childhood educators can encourage children to explore a variety of healthy food options and habits. We encourage you to review the section on engaging families for ideas on how to make healthy eating a family affair. The resource section is also filled with information and recipes that teachers can use in the classroom and share with families.

Bon appétit!

 

For the article Nutrition-Related Early Learning Standards, CLICK HERE

For the article Nutrition-Related Activity Ideas for Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Nutrition-Related Family Engagement Ideas, CLICK HERE

For the article Build a Nutrition Resource Library, CLICK HERE