Preschool Nutrition Theme

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Preschool Nutrition is just one part of the equation for healthy children.

Fitness and exercise are also important.  

I was not surprised to learn that 70% of obese children or adolescents grow up to have adult obesity issues. However, the results of a recent study about preschoolers did surprise me: 1 in 5 preschoolers is obese. That is such a high number.

As early childhood educators, we have a great opportunity and responsibility to work with families to help preschoolers learn about nutrition and making healthy food choices.

It is my hope that we can help our children and families become more aware of healthy food choices that will help them to become healthy adults.

This Theme page is filled with preschool activities and ideas for all areas of your classroom. It includes activities for nutrition and the food groups.

Let the Theme Planning Begin!

You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities for your Preschool Nutrition Theme or click the link below to go to specific preschool activity types you are looking for.

CLICK HERE for my Exercise & Fitness Theme to go along with your Nutrition Theme!

Preschool Nutrition Theme Art

Affordable In-Service Training for Preschool Teachers!

Peggy Kelly is a Health Coach. She was formerly a preschool teacher and director, as well as a mentor and colleague of mine!  She has put together a wonderful, affordable Preschool Nutrition training specifically for us--people who work with children. Massachusetts, and possibly some other states in the U.S., now require annual nutrition training as part of the State Childcare Licensing Regulations.

I had a difficult time finding something that was relevant for our teachers and program. She put this program together and let us know about it...it was a great training and met the state requirements!  

OK, I'm done with the "shameless plug" for her training! Seriously, it's worth checking it out for you and your co-teachers to see if it meets your needs! CLICK HERE to check out her trainings!

Healthy Food Collage

Materials Needed: Magazine and catalog pictures of healthy foods, scissor, glue, paper

Have the children cut out pictures of healthy foods. Discuss the foods they see and why they are or are not healthy.

EXTENSION: You could have the pictures precut for them so that you can discuss them as they work on their collage rather than have them cut them out.

EXTENSION: You could also use this as a sorting activity. See the manipulatives section of this page for Food Picture sorting activity.

Food Group Plates

After talking about the food groups, have children choose food pictures from each food group and glue them onto precut dish shapes!

Paper Mache Foods

Materials Needed: newspaper, masking tape, wallpaper paste (or your favorite homemade paper mache glue); paint

Help children shape newspaper into their favorite healthy food.

Tape shape with masking tape.

Cover with several layers of newspaper dipped in mache paste (precut newspaper into strips of approximately 1 X 4-6 inch strips).

Let dry, then paint and display!

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Preschool Nutrition Theme Block Center Ideas

Harvest Time

Materials Needed: Add tractors, play vegetables and other farm items (equipment and animals). The children can harvest their farms!

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Preschool Nutrition Theme Circle Time Ideas

Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your Preschool Nutrition Theme!

Healthy Snacks in Preschool


Berry, Berry Funny

Preschool nutrition and fun! Absolutely! Where did a boysenberry or strawberry get its name? Hmmm...ask the children and record what they say! Bring a bunch of different types of berries to circle area and ask them! You could make a class book out of their answers!

I read somewhere that there are actually several theories about how strawberries got their name! It has been said that they got the name "straw" berries because they are grown in mulch made with straw or because they were once hung on pieces of straw for decoration.

Also, did you know there are berries that are WHITE when they are ripe? I've never seen one, but wouldn't that be cool to show the children?!!


Srawberry Song

Yummy, yummy strawberries,

So red and sweet and plump.

When I see them in my bowl,

It makes me want to jump!

I eat them very carefully,

I savor every one.

Sweet, delicious strawberries,

To me, they're number one!

One Potato, Two Potato

Lead the children in this rhyming poem, holding up the appropriate number of fingers as they go along:

One potato, two potato, three potato, four.

Five potato, six potato, seven potato, more!

Food Pyramid for Preschool Nutrition Theme

Food Pyramid

Teach your preschoolers about nutrition by introducing the food pyramid.

In advance, make a large pyramid. The top triangle is for "Fats" (butter, sugar, etc.); the next row is cut into 2 equal parts (1 for dairy and one for protein--remember that eggs go with protein not dairy!);

The next row is also in 2 equal parts- 1 for fruits and one for vegetables; and the bottom row is for Grains (breads, pasta, cereal, crackers, rice).

Explain that we need foods from each of the food groups to stay healthy.

Provide pictures of foods from magazines and ask them to place them in the food pyramid chart where it belongs.

VARIATION: Here's a picture of a Food Pyramid that my co-teacher made at circle time! She gave each of the children some play food. After discussing the pyramid, they each had a turn identifying their food and where it would go on the pyramid and then placed it there!

Strawberry Song

Investigate strawberries at Circle Time, learn this song and then have a taste test!

Yummy, yummy strawberries,

So red and sweet and plump.

When I see them in my bowl,

It makes me want to jump!

I eat them very carefully,

I savor every one.

Sweet, delicious strawberries,

To me, they're number one!

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Kitchen Tool Identification for a Preschool Nutrition Theme

Kitchen Tool Identification

Materials Needed: Have many items used for cooking and preparing food in a large pot with a cover. Some suggestions: Potato masher, slotted spoons, small plastic spoons and forks, spatulas, tongs

Take one item out of the pot. Ask the children if they know what it is. Ask them what it is used for.

Continue with each item.

This is a great conversation starter about eating and preparing healthy foods. For example, a small plastic knife is used to cut bananas, slicing wheat bread, spreading foods on healthy crackers, etc.

EXTENSION: List the items on a chart as well as what the item does.

EXTENSION: Use the tools to paint with! See Kitchen Tool Painting activity under the Art section of this page.

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Snack Recipe Ideas to Cook Up for Your Preschool Nutrition Theme

Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation!

Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific themed questions while making these fun snacks!

You can help families to offer healthier snacks by sending any recipes you make with the children home! I'd recommend making a "recipe" book throughout this theme (or throughout the year!) and send home Your Preschool's Recipe Book!

You could also share the tasting activities that you do with the children and let families know what foods their children like!

One of the things we do, is to post any charts we make in a very prominent place where the parents will see it when they pick their children up or drop them off!

You could place the chart on an easel in front of their coat cubbies or in front of the door they enter!


Rice Cake Faces  This recipe was sent by Maureen of Hamden, CT and it looks delicious and fun!

Items needed: 1 large rice cake for each child; slices of cheese cut into shapes; raisins; cheerios; pepper slices and some cream cheese; plastic knives

The children make faces on the rice cakes with these ingredients!

Eat and enjoy!

Thanks for the recipe Maureen!

Painted Toast for Preschool Themes

Painted Toast

Ingredients and items needed: wheat bread, milk, food coloring, pastry brush, toaster, plastic knives

Have children brush the toast with milk that has been colored with a small amount of food coloring. They can paint shapes, faces etc.

Toast bread.

EXTENSION: Make healthy spreads with the children to top it with such as apple butter, or add sliced bananas or other fruit to the top!


Fruit Salad

Of course! Provide a variety of fruits and small plastic knives. Include the children in preparing the fruit.

They should spoon fruit into a bowl for snack time.

Try this for a dip: 

Make instant banana pudding.  Use only 1/2 the milk called for in the recipe (so instead of 2 cups of milk, add 1 cup).

Mix in 16 ounces of sour cream.

Yummy!

Vegetable Soup in Preschool

Vegetable Soup

Ingredients Needed: Vegetable broth, already cooked long grain rice, pre-cooked carrots, oyster crackers; bowls for each child, plastic spoons to eat with; crock-pot, ladle tablespoons

Heat the vegetable broth in a Crock Pot. Place about 1/2 cup of broth in each bowl for each child.

Place the rice and carrots in separate bowls with a serving spoon.

Supervise children as they scoop into their broth: 2 tablespoons of rice and 2 tablespoons of carrots; 3 or 4 crackers.

If possible, take pictures of each step and make a REBUS card--a picture card with words--of each step. For example, the first card should be WASH HANDS. The second should be " Add 2" with a picture of rice and a spoon on the card.


Bread Tasting

Provide several different types of bread in loaves. Discuss and record what the children say about them.

Cut each one to investigate the middles of them.

Taste each type...do they like it?

Suggestions: Rye, pumpernickel, whole wheat, oatmeal bread, etc.

EXTENSION: List each type of bread on a chart and list the names of the children who like and don't like each one.

Want more ideas?  Click here for my 18 Ideas for Healthy Snacks in Preschool article!

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Preschool Nutrition Theme Ideas to Transform Your Dramatic Play Area

FREE Bread Theme Resource

There are signs, menus and more for your Dramatic Play Area in this FREE packet!

CLICK HERE here to download, print, laminate and use!

Supermarket

Materials Needed: Food containers (such as cereal boxes, milk jugs, etc.); play fruit and vegetables, plastic carriages and carriers, play register and play money.

Be sure that all recycled items are clean and sanitized. For boxes (such as cereal boxes), stuff with newspaper or recycled paper and tape closed for durability. For money, instead of purchasing it, encourage children at the writing table to make their own money and print numbers on it!

I do recommend that you laminate play money as the children have the habit of crumpling it up by the fistfuls at clean up time!

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Preschool Nutrition Theme Ideas for your Easel--More Than Just Painting (Although that is always THE favorite in our classroom!

Sticker Starter

Materials needed: Stickers of foods to help children learn about preschool nutrition such as fruits, vegetables, etc.

Place 1 sticker (or have the children choose their own sticker) and place it on the paper. The children paint a picture around their sticker.

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Preschool Nutrition Theme Large Group Games To Help Build Your Preschoolers' Muscles While The Have Fun Together! 

Food Delivery!

Provide paper grocery bags and a basket of play food for the children to deliver to their friends from their bikes/ride-on toys!

Shopping Obstacle Course

Materials Needed: Plastic shopping carts, play food items, index cards, obstacles to go under, over or around (cones, mats to walk on, etc.)

In advance, write the numbers 1, 2 and 3 on several cards. Give the children a card and tell them they need to purchase that many items at the store that is on the other end of the room. However, they need to get past the obstacles to get to the store.

Have them follow the course to the "store". Once there, they need to find the number of items as listed on their cards, place the items in a bag and then follow the course back to the beginning.

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Preschool Nutrition Theme Ideas for Your Library Area

Book Suggestions for the Library

The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food by Jan and Stan Berenstain
Blueberries for Sal (Viking Kestrel picture books) by Robert McCloskey
Bread, Bread, Bread (Around the World Series) by Ann Morris
The Carrot Seed 60th Anniversary Edition by Ruth Krauss
Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months by Maurice Sendak
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons
Growing Vegetable Soup (Voyager Books) by Lois Ehlert
If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura J. Numeroff
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear (Child's Play Library) by Audrey Wood
Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola
The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

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Preschool Nutrition Theme Math & Manipulatives Activities

Activities To Help your Preschoolers Develop Their Math Skills and Those Small Muscles in Their Hands!


5-A-Day Count this Way!

Provide real fruits and vegetables. Have work on their one-to-one correspondence by counting out 5 from the group of food provided. We all need 5 a day to stay healthy!

EXTENSION: Provide other play foods that promote preschool nutrition as well that are not fruits and vegetables. Ask them to count out 5 items that are in the fruit/vegetable food group. Allow them to also classify foods in other ways: colors, shapes, etc.

Happy Harriet and Grumpy Gordon

Materials Needed: Healthy and unhealthy laminated foods; 2 boxes (shoe box size works!)

On the bottom of the boxes, cut a large hole out for a mouth and draw eyes, a nose and add hair. Make Harriet's face a happy smiley mouth and Gordon's a sad mouth.

As the children pick up each food, they should determine if it is healthy or unhealthy. Healthy foods go into Harriet's mouth and unhealthy into Gordon's.

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Preschool Nutrition Theme Music and Movement Activities and Ideas to get your Preschoolers Movin' and Groovin'!

One Potato, Two Potato

One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, four.

Five potatoes, six potatoes, seven potatoes more!

Change the food based on theer favorites. Encourage them to hold up the number of fingers as they sing this!


I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Pie!

This is a GREAT book by Alison Jackson! Sing the book to the children! Of course the traditional book
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is also great fun......not great preschool nutrition education, but fun! ;)

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Preschool Nutrition Activities for Your Sand and Water Table!

Planting

Add soil to your sensory table. Provide play food items that grow in the ground and items for your children to plant them with!

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Preschool Nutrition Theme Science Activities--For Your Preschool Scientists in Training!

Peas in a Pod

Materials Needed: Fresh pea pods, paper and crayons.

Let the children open and manipulate a pea pod! They can eat it if they want to try it. Encourage them to draw about this investigation!


Milk a Cow

Materials Needed: A non latex glove, a common pin, watered down white paint.

Fill the fingers of a glove with watered down white paint. Poke a small pinhole in the tips of a few of the fingers. Tie off the glove.

Hold it while the children squeeze the fingers as they squeeze the "udders" of the cow for the milk to come out.

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Writing Activity Ideas for Your Preschool Classroom's Preschool Nutrition Theme!

Preschool Nutrition and Healthy Food Book

Materials Needed: Magazines, food catalogs, "books" made in advance, glue sticks, scissors

In advance, make a My Preschool Nutrition and Healthy Food Book for each child. Simply stable several pieces of plain paper together covered by construction paper.

Encourage the children print their name on the front cover.

The children should look through the magazines and cut out the healthy foods they see that they like to eat and glue them on their pages. For printing practice, have index cards premade with pictures and the words of each healthy food so that children can write in their books the foods they like as well.

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Miscellaneous Activities for Your Preschool Classroom's Preschool Nutrition Theme!

Preschool Nutrition Theme Field Trips

Contact a local farm, dairy farm or grocery store to set up a field trip!


Preschool Nutrition Theme Classroom Visitors

There are many opportunities with a Preschool Nutrition Theme for visitors to your classroom! Survey parents for opportunities as well as your local community!  Some ideas for visitors:

  • Dietitian
  • Nurse
  • Grocer
  • Farmer
  • Chef/cook


Preschool Nutrition Theme HEALTHY FOOD PARTY!

In advance, send a note home to families to bring in a healthy food that they like to eat at home such as a fruit, vegetable, bread, etc.

The children should help you to prepare their food and "display" it on a plate for snack time! Make this a very special event by setting the table with a tablecloth, special plates, etc.!

EXTENSION: Make a chart (you know I LOVE charts!) that lists each food in a column. Have a 2nd column labeled I LIKE IT and a 3rd labeled I DON'T LIKE IT. Precut out each child's name as many times as you have foods so that they can tape their name next to each food!


Preschool Nutrition Theme Family Project

Send a note home asking families to send in their favorite healthy family recipe. Put them together to make a Class Family Recipe Book


Preschool Nutrition Resources

Many organizations have information to help teach preschoolers about nutrition. Here are a few I have found. 

Dannon Institute-Celebrate Healthy Eating for Preschool Nutrition 

Dairy Council-Kindergarten program but would work for Preschool 

National Dairy Council-Child Nutrition resources 

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