Teaching children about nutrition can be both rewarding and amusing. It is critical to engage children, invoke curiosity and remain positive about food and health. Creativity is also imperative when developing nutrition activities for kids. Nutrition activities should allow kids to explore food and apply new knowledge. Most of all, nutrition activities for children should be fun.
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This activity teaches children about the five major food groups (grains, vegetables, fruit, milk and meat and beans) through a team relay race. Before conducting this activity, spend a couple of weeks collecting empty food containers from all food groups. On the day of the activity, set an assortment of food containers in two groups about 10 feet apart. This will be the starting point for each team. Next, using masking tape, create an outline of MyPyramid about 20 feet away from the food containers. Make one pyramid per team and label food groups with pictures or words for easy identification.
Split children into teams and explain to them that they will be racing to place each food container in the correct place on the pyramid. Once the race is over, go through each food and ask whether or not it is in the correct food group. Teams collect one point for each correctly placed food, and the winning team gets five extra points. This activity is appropriate for children from kindergarten to third grade.
Make Your Plate
If a child love arts and crafts, he will love this activity. Before getting started, talk briefly about what makes a healthy meal--variety, taste, texture, nutrition. Prepare a table with safe scissors, crayons, stickers, markers, glitter, glue, magazines and newspaper ads. Have children make their own plate using all of the materials available. When everyone is finished, have children take turns sharing which foods they included in their creative design and why. Be sure to praise children for their artwork and what they chose and refrain from scolding for making less-healthy choices. This activity is appropriate for children from kindergarten to third grade.
Exploring Fruits and Veggies
For this activity, purchase several fresh fruits and vegetables and prepare simple nutrition information cards to accompany each piece of produce. Distribute the produce and information cards to groups of children. This is best done in a classroom setting.
Ask each group to explore their fruit or vegetable by feeling and smelling it, looking over the nutrition information card and reflecting on personal experiences they’ve had with the food. Once they have had time to reflect, ask each group to develop a colorful poster creatively advertising their fresh produce. Have each group take a turn presenting their poster to the class. To top it off, serve a smoothie or fruit salad using the produce that the children explored. This activity is appropriate for children from fourth grade to sixth grade.
Prior to doing this activity check with instructors and/or parents to ensure that children are not allergic to any fruits or vegetables used.
Plants to Plates
For plants to plates, provide each student with two recycled plastic cups--one with a hole in it. Have each child take turns dipping the cup with a hole into a bucket of soil. While children are waiting for everyone to fill up their cups ask them to explore their soil and share what they find. Next, pass out three seeds for a small plant that is in season. Demonstrate how deep they should plaint their seeds. After everyone has planted, allow children to water their plants at a drinking fountain or sink. Once all children are settled, discuss how plants grow and why they are so nutritious.
Introducing the concept of growing a seed into something edible is intriguing and exciting for children. Foods that are grown (grains, fruits, vegetables) are among some of the most nutritious and delicious foods available. Teaching children about the growing process can encourage them to eat these healthy foods at home. This activity is appropriate for children from preschool to fourth grade.