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 Nutrition Theme page is filled with preschool activities and ideas for all areas of your classroom. It includes activities for nutrition and the food groups.
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
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
newspaper, masking tape, wallpaper paste (or your favorite homemade paper mache
Help children shape
newspaper into their favorite healthy food.
Tape shape with masking
Cover with several
layers of newspaper dipped in mache paste (precut newspaper into strips of
approximately 1 X 4-6 inch strips).
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!
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?!!
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!
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!
Investigate strawberries at Circle Time, learn this song and then have a taste test!
So red and sweet and
When I see them in my
It makes me want to
I eat them very
I savor every one.
To me, they're number
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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.
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!
Have children brush the toast with milk that has been colored with a small amount of food coloring. They can paint shapes, faces etc.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Preschool Nutrition Theme Large Group Games To Help Build Your Preschoolers' Muscles While The Have Fun Together!
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.
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.
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.
Appointment BookThank you, Staci, for this idea!
Students can create appointment books and then use for dramatic play.
Cheryl's note: This idea prompted me to think of a shopping list type of book. They could make a shopping list and use it in the Supermarket Dramatic Play idea listed above in Dramatic Play.
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:
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.
Hey there! Welcome to Preschool Plan It! I’m Cheryl, a preschool teacher of over 20 years.
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