Teaching nutrition to our kids is essential. They need a solid understanding of nutritional basics so they can make wise food decisions when they’re not with us.
They need to know that not all foods are created equally, and that treats aren’t meant to be eaten all the time. Learning why they need to eat protein and vegetables helps them see how they can help their body grow. So does learning how certain foods affect their bodies.
Teaching nutrition doesn’t have to be boring. Here are some of the fun activities I use to reinforce nutrition concepts with my kids.
Food Group Sort
Newspaper ads from the grocery store
By cutting out a variety of food and then sorting them by type, your child will gain a better understanding of the food groups.
Have your child cut out several kinds of food from the ads.
Then, ask her to sort them into groups that make sense. When she’s done, have her explain the groupings to you.
Tell your child that now you’re going to sort them. Break the food into the following categories:
Talk to your child about the way you sorted them, and explain that these are the food groups. Our bodies need some from each category to grow well.
Have your child glue the pictures from each category onto a piece of paper.
Drawing a Balanced Meal
A dinner plate
This game is all about creating a balanced meal. To start, ask your child to trace the dinner plate onto his paper.
Put the plate away.
Ask your child to draw a balanced meal that he’d love to eat. It has to include:
- A protein
- A fruit
- A veggie
- A source of dairy
- Some grain
Then let their imaginations run wild. My kids have created some crazy combinations, like this one my seven year old came up with:
- Hot dogs
- Carrot sticks
- Chocolate milk
- Mashed potatoes
While it’s balanced, it’s definitely not a combination that I’d normally make to go together. But that’s okay–I really wanted to make sure he knew what the components of a balanced meal were, and could name something from each category.
You can continue the conversation by talking about ways to combine categories to make a meal that goes well together. And you never know – your child might come up with a new combo your family adores! Just because you’ve never served something together doesn’t mean it’s wrong to do so.
Fruit & Vegetable Alphabet Game
This game is an alphabet game–your goal is to work as a team to name a fruit or vegetable for each letter of the alphabet.
Thinking of this variety will help expose your child to several different kinds of produce.
One person starts by saying a fruit or vegetable that starts with the letter A. The next person does B. Continue until you reach Z.
Nutrition & The Farm: Where Our Food Comes From
The ingredients you’re using to prepare dinner
Invite your child into the kitchen to help you cook. As you prepare the meal, talk about where each ingredient came from.
If you’re using milk, cheese, and hamburger, you can talk about how these all came from a cow.
Eggs come from chickens.
Fruits and vegetables are grown in a garden.
These conversations are simple, and important. It’s essential that consumers know where their food comes from. Make sure your children know–food comes from farms!
You can continue this conversation with the fun game Where Does Food Come From?
How What You Drink Affects Your Teeth
Teeth and eggshells are composed of similar material. This experiment will help your child see the impact that what they drink has on their teeth.
4 clear plastic glasses
Soda to fill a glass
Water to fill a glass
Juice to fill a glass
Energy drink to fill a glass
Carefully crack the eggs in half and preserve the shell halves. Use the eggs as you’d like and rinse the shells.
Have your child help place one half egg shell in each plastic glass.
Let your child pour water into a glass over the eggshell.
Repeat with the other drinks.
Each day for a week, carefully remove the eggshell and observe any changes. Look for changes in:
After a week, dispose of the egg shells and discuss what you saw. Some beverages are really hard on our teeth!
Experiment inspired by this one.
What activities do you use for teaching nutrition?
I’d love to hear how you teach nutrition in a fun way. Please share in the comment section below.