Kids Activities for Healthy Eating
The best way to engage children is through action, not verbalizing. As you are advocating for real food in your household, getting creative with food-related activity is a fantastic and effective way to reinforce your efforts. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Pick Your Own
Have you gone to a pick your own fruit farm yet? There are farms across the country, so a quick consult with Google should bring you some great options. When you arrive, you can generally pick whatever is in season. And as you pick, you are likely to eat, so your kiddos will end up eating freshly picked fruit. You can turn it into a day out and take them out for a healthy lunch, or you can bring a picnic and find a park as well.
In visiting a fruit farm, kids learn firsthand how the fruit grows. They can touch, smell, and feel what fruit is. They become aware of where it grows, and whether it’s picked from a bush or tree or stalk. And, unlike in the grocery store, they get to see fruit at every stage. Strawberries, for example, start as small green hard things, but eventually turn really red. They see the variety of size and color, which creates another great opportunity for conversation around when the fruit is ripe enough for picking and how it finishes ripening at home. (We always pick some very ripe ones eat in the car on the way home, too).
In this day and age, children don’t often get to see fruit that is still growing, but this awareness is vital for their connection with and appreciation for real food.
Visit with Some Farmers Markets
Another great opportunity to help kiddos connect with the story of their food is by shopping at local farmer’s markets. There are lots of farmers markets of varying sizes, so try a number of them. Don’t just go to one and decide it’s too crowded or too small.
If you want to really take advantage of the educational and inspirational opportunity of the market, make sure to actually speak to the people in the stalls. They actively made the honey or grew those vegetables, and they can speak to how each item comes from nature. Kids can have a conversation, ask questions, and really engage the story of their food.
Kids also enjoy the activity of choosing their fruit and vegetables, and you’ll love that they’re not surrounded by packaged, highly marketed food to distract them. many stalls will have samples, so they have a chance to try new things, and you don’t have to worry about paying out for food that might not be used. Not sure how to prepare the food your child has chosen? You can also ask the farmers and their friends about how they would cook the food. They may even have recipes available, either printed and available right there, or available via their websites.
At the Farmer’s Market, all your senses are engaged, and you are able to get real time info from people who already have a relationship with the food you are discussing—it’s the perfect opportunity to get all your fears, queries, and answers sorted.
Look for Fresh Food Events
Some stores offer children’s demonstrations or walk-arounds. These events may include story time, crafts, and cooking demonstrations during which kids can help pour and stir. During a tour, they might learn how to pick the perfect watermelon or how to know which apples are the sweetest. They’ll get a better picture of how to shop for fruit and vegetables, and they may even begin to look forward to a trip to the store.
And let’s be honest, sometimes children will listen to another adult even though their parents have just told them the same exact thing. It’s just one of those quirks in life.
How do you use activity to reinforce healthy eating? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments