A Colorful Lesson for Nursery School KidsWednesday, January 18, 2012
Teaching the youngest of kids the value of eating a variety fruits and veggies is not only a message I write about but also practice. This week, I visited my 4-year old daughter’s nursery school class and gave them a lesson about fruit and veggies. I actually didn’t do much talking, but rather listening and asking.
The best method for learning is hands on. So that’s what I did with a classroom filled with 18 four-year olds. The goal was to introduce a rainbow of colors— a simple message to help ensure that you eat a variety of vitamins and minerals. I chose 2 fruits and 2 vegetables to present: red peppers, blackberries, broccoli, and pineapple.
For each fruit or veggie, I told the kids a simple fact or two. For example, did you know the inside of the red pepper is hollow and filled with seeds? I had them touch, look and smell each food. Then if they chose, they could taste or even just lick the food.
Once they used all their senses, they made the decision to give the fruit or veggie a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” by putting a sticker on the corresponding photo. The purpose of this is to teach them that there is some food they’ll like and some they may not.
I’ve done this activity in all my children’s classes. The kids come up with interesting ways to describe the foods. For example, the skin of a pineapple has been described as “prickly” or “rough” and the blackberry looked “bumpy.” When I’ve used celery, I quiet down the class and we listen to how a stalk crackles when I snap it in half. I also find the kids end up having conversations with each other about the characteristics of the foods, which is incredibly cute to listen to.
Some parents are shocked to find that their kiddo tried blackberries or they tell me their child has always refused the fruit at home and then gave it a “thumbs up” on the worksheet (go figure?!). After this lesson, my daughter asked me to buy pineapple (she’s always refused it at home when I offered it to her).
The classroom is a great environment to introduce kids to new fruits and veggies. If you can’t do this in a classroom, then get a few friends together and create your own activity similar to the one I described. Oftentimes when children are introduced to fruits and veggies as a social event, it makes them more likely to see other enjoying the food and they may be more willing to try it themselves.