“Do you know what breakfast cereal is made from? It’s made of all those little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners!” –Roald Dahl
For a preschool nutrition lesson plan, I suggest you start with the basics. What is food? Where does it come from? What is good food? This is a theme I expect to repeat several times over the coming years, with increasing detail: food groups, the pyramid, what specific foods do for our bodies, etc. For now, I think it’s important to develop a healthy relationship with food and an adventurous spirit toward trying new foods. Here are 21 ideas to get you started.
1. I made some simple worksheets on Word, just using clipart. Make a few rows of 1 letter followed by 3 pictures of different foods. Ask your child to circle the food that starts with the letter for each row. Here’s an example:
2. For writing practice, you can make a few more worksheets, one for each letter you want to work on. At the top type “tT is for tomato” or another letter and food. Then insert a picture of that food from your clipart. Under the picture make a few lines for your child to practice writing the letters on. Comic Sans is a great font for this because it looks like hand-printed letters (or you can just write the letters in yourself). Here’s an example:
3. There are some great food-related books out there. Some of them talk about foods from different cultures to help open your child’s mind to different kinds of foods. Books I’d recommend for the preschool crowd are:
The very hungry caterpillar, by Eric Carle
Little Pea, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Crunch Munch, by Jonathan London
Burger Boy, by Alan Durant
Brownie & Pearl Grab a Bite, by Cynthia Rylant
Everybody Bakes Bread, by Norah Dooley (this one’s a little long, but very interesting if your child can stay focused)
The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food, by Stan & Jan Berenstain
Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake, by Michael B. Kaplan
Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli, by Barbara Jean Hicks
The Little Red Hen
Lunch, by Denise Fleming
This is the Way We Eat Our Lunch: A book about children around the world, by Edith Baer
The best science for this preschool lesson plan is cooking!
4. Cook with your child and talk about the different ingredients and where they come from.
5. Talk about how the texture of foods, like pancake batter and eggs, change when you cook them.
6. Make bread together and observe how it rises.
7. Make ice cream together and observe how it changes from a liquid to a solid (and maybe back to a liquid again).
Math also comes into play when cooking.
8. Talk about how to read measurements and how the timer counts the minutes.
9. Show your child how 2 half cups make a whole cup and other combinations.
10. If you have a chalkboard, you can draw a cookie with raisins and ask your child to count the raisins, or draw 2 cookies and ask him to point to the cookie with 5 raisins.
11. Play Patty-cake and I’m a little teapot
12. There’s a CD by Putumayo Presents called Picnic Playground that has some excellent multilingual songs for kids about food. The songs range from reggae to jazz from all over the globe. And it’s cool enough that it won’t drive you crazy listening to it.
13. For a food-related art project, try finger-painting apple trees. Have your child use the side of his hand to make the trunk, dab his index finger to make leaves, and dab his pinky to make apples.
14. Another art idea is to use cut pieces of food to stamp with.
15. You can also cut out pictures of food from magazines together and glue them by color to a rainbow. I just printed a rainbow from my Word clipart. I actually cheated and printed out different foods also, since I didn’t have many magazines with food in them.
Gross Motor Skills:
16. Try having an egg race with your child. Use plastic easter eggs on a large spoon and see how far you can each get without dropping it.
17. You can also pick up a watermelon (if they’re in season) and try rolling it across the yard or the living room.
18. Rice is a great material to play with to help develop those little finger muscles. Make it more fun by dying your rice different colors. We put a cup of rice in 4 ziplocks, added 1 Tbs of rubbing alcohol and 20 drops of food coloring to each bags and then massaged the rice around inside the bags to spread the color. Then just spread the rice out to dry. It won’t take long because of the alcohol. Maybe an hour or so. Afterwards you can mix all the colors together in a big container to play “sandbox” in. Ask your child to make piles, separating the rice by color. Of course you’re only going to expect this for 20 or so grains, not the whole container. No torturing please.
19. Print out some different food pictures in pairs and glue them to index cards. You should wind up with pairs of identical cards. Turn them face down to play “Memory” together.
Make Believe Play:
Pretending together is one of the greatest learning activities for kids. It might seem like a waste of time when you’re making a lesson plan for preschool, but dramatic play develops your kids’ creative thought, their self-control, and their understanding of your topic.
20. For our food theme, my son pretended to cook me breakfast and we ate it together. I talked him through the steps of making a meal. “Are you going to stir the pot on the stove? Where is your spoon? Can you get it out of the drawer?” He doesn’t have a play kitchen or anything. This was all done pantomime style and he LOVED it.
21. We also pretended to go grocery shopping around the house. Use your imagination! Wooden blocks were our bread and green legos were spinach. He used a wagon as his shopping cart. Later, I pretended to be the cashier and he paid me with a fake credit card we got in our junk mail.
Developing a healthy relationship with food, learning to appreciate a wide variety of tastes, and learning how food helps our bodies has a huge impact on your child’s future health. Remember to set a good example and make it easy for your child to eat healthy foods. As much as possible, cook your meals at home and eat them together. It will pay off.
Nutrition is one of the lesson themes from the 3rd article in my How To Create Your Homeschool Plan Series. If you’re looking for other lesson plan ideas, you can find a ton in that article.
Do you have any great food-related activities? Please share!