Having kids means becoming a teacher. A teacher of good manners, a teacher of life skills such as washing dishes and laundry and a teacher of healthy habits. One habit that is always top of mind for a dietitian is choosing the most nutritious foods at all meals and snacks. A simple way to teach this is by using our MyPlate as a guide and fun tool that a kid will love.
When my son was in Kindergarden, I was invited to teach a lesson on nutrition. Being the first time I had done that, I gathered up some fun tools as well as some samples of different foods and a few drinks that most kids are familiar with. Here is what I used:
- MyPlate for Kids
- Mug shaped like a liver (I named him Larry the Liver...and no, I have no idea where it came from as it was a gift when I managed a doctors office).
- Small bag of chips
- Small bag of cookies
- A pepper
- An apple
- An orange
- A small potato
- Old burger and fries (at that time it was about 4 years old but now it’s close to 10)
- Bottle of water
- Sports drink
Once the kids were seated quietly on the carpet I introduced them to Larry the Liver. I explained how important it is to feed our bodies with healthy foods. I also shared that healthy food keeps Larry happy so he is able to help up keep our bodies healthy.
I asked the class what their favorite foods were and we briefly discussed how these foods are amazing for us. Another big aspect of this sharing opportunity is keeping it positive by pointing out the best choices and not demonizing the foods we would consider "red light" foods.
From there I called on several children to help choose the foods we would feed Larry by referencing the Choose MyPlate as a guide. It was a very conversational activity so having a teacher by your side is a great way to keep the kids focused.
Once the children were satisfied with Larry’s meal, I read them a story about using fun names for new foods we haven’t tried before. They especially loved this part since it was cartoon they had all seen before.
It was fun for me to listen to what foods and drinks the parents had on a regular basis. These kids were all very aware of the fact that there are certain foods we should enjoy on occasion and which ones we should try to eat often.
Another great way for health educators to continue spreading good health is by offering students a way to share what is learned with their families. Try offering a coloring sheet, recipe card or even a Choose MyPlate to take home and use. Naturally you will also take the age of the group into consideration.
If this is something you would like to do, but are not too keen on coming up with ideas, check out our lesson plans that are already done for you and be sure to let us know how it goes.