Why Not Add Nutrition to Your Curriculum?
Along with basic information like shapes, numbers, and colors, another important lesson to teach children is preschool nutrition information. Games provide an atmosphere that encourages fun and learning without the students' realizing it. There are several ways preschool teachers can incorporate health and healthy eating into their lesson plans.
First, however, students must grasp the concept of healthy foods versus junk foods. They must also have the ability to categorize foods into their respective food groups. This article provides several games and activities ideas to introduce food groups and healthy eating to preschool students.
Food Group Sorting
This game focuses on the food group concept. Teachers must do some preparation before class to make this activity work. First, find newspapers or magazines and cut out pictures of food. Then, identify the names of the four food groups: Fruits/vegetables, protein, dairy, and grains. Write or type the group names on white pieces of paper and tape them to the floor in a line. Separate the groups with columns of masking tape so the children can easily see four distinct groups on the floor.
When the class arrives, explain the four food groups. Fruits and vegetables grow on trees or plants and many have seeds. Protein foods include animal meat and beans. Dairy foods are milk products, and grains include foods with the ingredients that make bread.
Pick up a magazine cutout of each food group and explain which group it goes into and place it on the floor under that respective group. Then, line up the preschoolers and give each child a chance to categorize their own foods. Verbally guide the students through the decision processes to help him/her and instruct the other students. Do this until all the food cutouts are in their correct groups. You’ll need them separated correctly for the next game.
Creating a Balanced Meal
You don’t have to get carried away with food pyramid instruction in preschool. They simply need to understand that variety makes a healthy meal. Understanding the difference between healthy food and junk food is also important.
To encourage and concept of variety, use the categorized food items from the previous sorting game. Give each child a paper plate and have them pick one item from each food group to make a meal. As an example, you might choose a banana, yogurt, lunch meat, and bread. Then, let the students glue their balanced meal to the paper plate. Not only does this teach basic nutrition, it also encourages fine motor skill development needed to paste pictures.
Guess My Food Game
Save this game for last because students use the information they learned from the previous activities to play. Use extra food cutouts from the group sorting game, or simply cut out more pictures from magazines.
Then, have the children sit down and choose one student to stand in the front of the room. Tape a food picture on his or her back without anyone seeing. Then, let the student turn around to show the rest of the students the secret food. Instruct the class to keep quiet and not spoil the surprise. Ask the class questions about the food. Is it a healthy food? What food group does it belong to? What color is the food? Is it sweet? Let the class answer the questions, and then the student at the front of the room guesses which food is on his or her back. Give each child a turn at the front. This game reinforces food group differentiation and teaches a valuable lesson in taking turns.
Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies
Preschool nutrition information, games, and themes introduce the concept of healthy, balanced eating. It is never too early to begin teaching proper nutrition. Although they might not have a choice of foods during mealtimes at home, this valuable information arms them with knowledge once they are given their own decisions. Use these games with preschoolers and the more detailed food pyramid instruction comes in later school grades.