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