This week the #PlayfulPreschool Team is offering thematic activities centered around HEALTHY HABITS in preschool! Encouraging preschoolers to develop good food choices will help build a foundation for a lifetime of sensible eating. We hope your own children will enjoy the healthy foods activities to encourage good habits at school and at home!
Teaching kids to make good food choices isn’t always easy! Today, we have more processed and sugar laden foods than ever before. Teaching kids about good food choices and allowing them some input into menu planning will help “plant the seeds” for a future of sensible eating habits.
Families with young children are busy and need a simple plan for encouraging healthy eating and menu planning. The old food pyramid (and measuring foods to ensure healthy nutrition) isn’t practical in daily application. A better way to encourage kids to choose the right kind of foods is found in Choose My Plate. Choose My Plate provides a visual to get kids thinking about what foods should be eaten and how a healthy meal plate should look.
- Grains – rice/pasta/whole grain cereals and breads
- Dairy – milk, yogurt, and cheese
- Proteins – leans meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, beans, and for simplification, I’ll add nuts/seeds and nut butters (almond, cashew, peanut) in this group.
Oils should be limited to healthy oils and used in moderation. Sweets are an occasional treat that can be enjoyed SOMETIMES, but not excessively.
Choose My Plate Paper Plate Learning Craft for Preschool – Discussion and Paper Plate Craft Labels
Materials needed: one paper plate per child/craft, old magazines with photos of various foods, glue sticks, markers or crayons, yarn or string, hole punch, and the printable labels –one set for discussions and one set of labels for each child’s paper plate craft (linked above).
Prior to creating the craft: Print the labels and laminate for durability if desired. Cut out the labels and arrange on a table or the floor. Discuss with the children what kinds of foods belong in each of the 5 food groups. Invite the children to tear or cut various pictures from old magazines and discuss what food groups the pictures should go under.
Randomly mix the magazine pictures and invite the children to sort the photos into the food groups independently. Come together after sorting to discuss which food pictures the children chose to place under each of the food group categories.
Give each child a paper plate and invite them to draw a line down the middle of the plate (vertically). Assist the children in drawing the dividing lines for the fruit/vegetable half of the plate and then the grains/protein half (as shown in the CHOOSE MY PLATE photo above).
Invite the children to gather photos of foods that correspond to each of the categories on the paper plate and then glue the pictures into each of the 4 sections. Remind children that drinking milk with meals or having cheese/yogurt at snack time is a great way to fulfill the dairy needs for their growing bodies.
To finish the paper plate craft, have the children punch two holes near the bottom of the paper plate. Thread yarn through the holes in the plate. Invite the children to pick a picture of one sweet and one fat/oil to add to their craft. Hole punch the magazine pictures and hang from the plate. Remind the children that fats/oils/sweets can be eaten sometimes, but not excessively.
MY MENU – Good Foods for Preschool Menu Activity
Extension Activity: Encourage kids to think about the food groups on the plate in the paper plate craft. What foods would they like on their own menu? Print the menu (linked above) and invite the children to consider what foods from each of the food groups they want to eat. Younger children can glue pictures of foods on the lines of the menu; older children may wish to write or stamp words or beginning letters for the foods/food groups they choose on the lines provided.
There are 4 lines on the printable menu for each of the 4 food groups on the paper plate craft: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, and Lean Meats. Again, remind kids that the DAIRY requirement can be met by drinking milk with meals or by having yogurt/cheese at snack times.
Hang the menus and paper plate crafts in the kitchen or in the classroom to encourage healthy eating habits daily!
Be sure to visit the wonderful activities and suggestions below for MORE ways to inspire preschoolers to develop HEALTHY HABITS!
Teaching Children About Feelings Vs. Behavior by Capri + 3
Letter Match Tooth Cleaning Game by Rainy Day Mumm
Brushing Teeth Song by Growing Book by Book
Elephants Toothpaste by Learning 2 Walk
Nutrition: Sorting and Categorizing Food by Mom Inspired Life
Asthma Action Plan by Tiny Tots Adventures
Hand Washing Sequencing and Song by The Educators’ Spin On It