Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fun Ways to Teach Kids About Healthy Eating: Fruit Facts

Creative Ways to Teach Children About Healthy Diet - Photo by Dungodung at Wikimedia Commons
Healthy eating is a habit that anyone can learn. Children naturally tend to adopt dietary customs of the home, but other people may have an influence on their choices. Teaching kids about healthy eating in a fun and active way may increase their knowledge and encourage healthy choices at mealtime.

One way to get children more engaged is to involve them in the learning process. This activity takes a minimum amount of supplies and preparation time, but I have found that children have enjoyed learning about fruits in the manner. Perhaps learning more about eating fruits may encourage them to make healthy eating choices.

You can cover the material in 15 to 20 minutes, but you might also wish to combine additional learning activities, such as graphing the kids' favorite fruits. I like using Create a Graph – this is a great way to show how math can be fun and how to apply graphing in real life. You might also develop a word search or crossword using the different names of fruits. If you have the budget and time, you serve a variety of fruits at the end of the program. Check about food allergies before serving any foods.

Supplies you will need:
  1. 6 pieces of construction paper
  2. scissors
  3. copy(ies) of the FRUITS chart (use this as a handout or instructor notes)

Before teaching time, cut out the letters FRUITS using the construction paper. I did this freehand style using the entire pieces of paper as my edges (see above photo), but feel free to use large die-cuts if you prefer.

After assembling the kids, start with a cheer. "Give me an F!" (The kids will eventually respond "F."). "Give me an R!" (More kids will reply with "R.") They will quickly catch on! After the "S," ask "What did we spell?" OK...sneaky way to add a little language arts into the day too!

Now that the kids know they will be learning about fruits, give them the latest recommendations for number of servings currently recommended by the CDC for their age group. I like to use Choose My Plate, and I also used that site as a resource in making the FRUITS chart.

Ask the kids if they can think of an example of a fruit. This is a great opportunity to hear what they already know and to offer information if they mention foods from other groups. You might wish to offer other examples of fruits that may be a little less familiar and see if anyone has heard of that fruit. Sometimes children might mention vegetables here, and you can quickly put a positive spin on that by mentioning that it is a good idea people to eat both fruits and vegetables to stay healthy.

Next, choose six volunteers. This is a way to immediately have everyone's attention again and to encourage the children to be sitting quietly! Have the volunteers to stand in a line in front of the group and give each a letter, spelling the word FRUITS. You might want to have them spread out so that you can stand between them as you talk.

I like to have each child hold up his or her letter and have the class name the letter first and then listen to information about that letter, using the FRUITS chart (see below). Review each letter before moving to the next by having the kids to say the red phrase for each letter. You can make this fun by changing the sound or speed or saying the phrase like a cheer.

Quick and Easy Fruit Facts © Katrena
After talking about each letter, I like to finish by doing the cheer again, encouraging each child to hold up his or her letter as I call each one and finally having all of them raise their letters when asking, "What did we spell?" Learning about fruits can actually be exciting, engaging, and fun!

Find additional tips for teaching kids about healthy habits, ideas for combining music with exercise, and more at Fit Tips 4 Life.

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