It's National Nutrition Month! As a result, we thought we would provide you with a few ways to not only make young children aware of how important nutrition is for their growing bodies, but by also instilling life long healthy habits.
Here are 3 ways to kick off Nutrition Month with the kiddos:
1. Get Them Excited with Experiential Learning in the Kitchen
Experiential learning is the new hands-on! By getting budding chefs in the kitchen, they're not only honing fine-motor skills, utilizing creativity for tasty creations and expanding their vocabularies, but they can also learn about nutritional value and portion size. Here's a healthy recipe to get you started!
Thai Lettuce Roll-Up (Makes 2 Servings)
- Cutting board
- mixing bowls
- plastic knife
- small frying pan
- 2 eggs
- cooked chicken
- lettuce leaves
- spring onions
- 2 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoon regular soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce or 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
What to Do:
- Make the Thai sauce. Invite your child to put the sauce ingredients into a mixing bowl. Use a whisk to mix the sauce thoroughly.
- Help your child cut up the cabbage and spring onions--enough for two servings.
- Slice the chicken and place it into the Thai sauce along with the cabbage, spring onions, and sprouts.
- Show your child how to crack an egg into a separate bowl, and then lightly beat it with a whisk.
- Melt a bit of butter or spray a small frying pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the egg into the pan and cook it over medium heat (adult only).
- Add the egg to the mixing bowl with the other ingredients and stir.
- Encourage your child to place a spoonful or two for the Thai mixture into the lettuce leaves, wrap it up, and enjoy!
Find even more healthy recipes for your little one in our book The Budding Chef!
2. Bring Awareness to Actively Making Healthy Choices
Young children have to be taught that they make decisions daily that affect their health. Helping them understand food choices, being active and portion size are all lessons they need to learn at an early age. But most importantly, they have to know that they are making these decisions every day. Here is an activity that brings together physical fitness and nutrition to teach little ones about food and energy!
The Energy Timer
How to Do It:
- Gather the children on one side of the room and tell them they will travel along a line, the Energy Line. Tell them that some foods give lots of energy and will let them go all the way up the line and back, and some just will not.
- Start with healthy foods that will give the energy to go all the way up the line and back. "How about sweet potatoes? They help us go far!" Encourage the children to walk several steps away, then turn and run back.
- Suggest a sugary, unhealthy food. "What about candy? They won't take us very far!" Stop the children after only a few steps and tell them to come back.
- Continue in this manner, suggesting both healthy and unhealthy foods.
- Encourage the children to call out different foods, and tell them how far they will go on those foods.
- Healthy: Proteins such as turkey, nuts or beans
- Unhealthy: Junk food such as potato chips
- Healthy: Vegetables and fruits such as carrots and bananas.
Expand it! Encourage the children to skip, hop, or gallop up the Energy Line and back. -Find even more physical activities that will have your children up and learning in our book Up, Down Move Around: Nutrition and Motor Skills.
3. Get Your Children Learning Outside
With the arrival of Spring (as soon as the ice/snow decides to subside) there should be plenty of opportunities for you and your children to go outside and expend some energy! Outdoor play is a great way to begin healthy habits in little ones as they learn the importance of physical activity. Here is a great outdoor activity to teach your children about measurement and comparison while they get their exercise in!
- painter's tape or other colored tape
- tape measure
- On an outside wall, mark off and label the height of a turkey (48 inches), a wolf (26 inches) and a tiger (36 inches). Add animals common to your area.
- On the ground, mark the starting point for a long jump. Then mark and label these distances: kangaroo (29 feet), bullfrog (6 feet), and grasshopper (2 feet). Add animals that are common to your area.
What to Do:
- Explain that the children are going to test themselves to see how they measure up in the animal kingdom. Are they as tall as a turkey? Can they jump as far as a kangaroo?
- Have them line up along a wall. Add their heights to the wall with tape, and label each piece of tape with their names. Who is the tallest? the shortest?
- Ask the children to compare their heights to those of the turkey, wolf, and tiger. Are they taller or shorter?
- Lead children to the starting point for the long jump. From here, each child gets to jump once. Measure each jump, and mark it with tape; label the tape. Whose jump is the longest? the shortest? Is there a cluster of similar distances?
- Ask children to compare their jumps with those of the kangaroo, bullfrog, and grasshopper. Are they longer? shorter?
Find even more ways to get your children learning outside with our book Let's Take It Outside: Teacher-Created Activities for Outdoor Learning.