Fall is the perfect time for a preschool nutrition theme. What with all the food-centered holidays filled with so many sweet treats, it’s the ideal time to teach our growing preschoolers about healthy eating choices.
Establishing healthy eating habits early in a child’s life is really important. A food and nutrition theme in preschool is a great step in the right direction.
In this unit, the children get to learn about the different food groups. They also get to make several choices regarding their food study, much like choices they get in real life.
FAQ About Teaching Healthy Eating to Kids
Encouraging a preschooler to make healthy food choices can be challenging. Here are some questions I frequently get about how to get young children to eat healthy. These questions about include what minds of preschool activities to add to your Food and Nutrition Theme preschool lesson plans.
Proper nutrition is important because nutrients fuel our bodies and enable us to do all our favorite things, which is important to explain to our preschoolers.
Explain the food pyramid to your preschoolers and help them understand that each food group is important because eat group has special nutrients that not only help us grow big and strong but these nutrients also help us think and grow smarter.
Helping your preschooler understand the importance of good nutrition relies heavily on exposure to foods in a variety of settings (both play settings and real-life settings). Here are some ways to incorporate healthy eating choices into your preschool day.
~ Have a variety of healthy snack choices available.
~ Turn your dramatic play center into a grocery store.
~ Purchase high-quality play food that is life-like and healthy.
~ Invite your preschooler to help you create a grocery list.
~ Brig your preschooler grocery shopping with you and allow them to make choices in what is purchased.
~ Cook with your preschooler.
~ Do food related arts and crafts projects.
~ Keep it playful by making a healthy food sensory table.
Instead of labeling foods as “junk foods” rephrase them to something like “sometimes” foods. Sometimes foods are those we have in moderation because they are less nutrient dense.
It is also important to teach preschoolers about portion sizes when considering different food groups. Sometimes foods should have smaller portions because they simply don’t fuel our bodies and minds as effectively, while vegetables can be unlimited.
Additionally, it’s important not to put too much emphasis on the value of sometimes foods. For example, it is no longer best practice to “finish your plate” before enjoying a small candy at lunch time. Instead, offer the candy with lunch so your preschooler doesn’t become conditioned to thinking that sweets have a greater value than other foods.
10 Activities for Food and Nutrition Theme
It’s astonishing that nearly 25% of children ages 2-5 are obese or overweight! While teaching about food and nutrition in preschool, it’s important not to refer to foods being “good” or “bad” for you. We don’t want children to feel bad for their choices.
These food and nutrition activities for preschoolers are sure to fill your preschool nutrition theme with all the best activities, including healthy food activities for toddlers, too.
Picture Books for Food & Nutrition Theme
There are so many great children’s books that teach kids about healthy eating. Here are some of our favorite food and nutrition theme books just right for preschoolers.
These books became an integral part of our food and nutrition preschool theme as they were such a great segue into so many of our activities. Reading books with children also encourages children to talk about food and healthy choices, both of which are an important part of the learning process.
Books for Adults About Teaching Healthy Eating Habits
If you’re really interested in the nitty gritty about how to eliminate a picky eater, these books are fantastic.
Fruit and Vegetable Color Sort
Print off these fruit and vegetable cards from Montessori for Everyone and have your students sorts them by color. I placed a piece of foam on the floor in every fruit or vegetable color (including white and tan). Then I handed out cards one by one until all of the pictures were sorted.
This was a great introductory activity for the students. as some did not recognize all the fruits and vegetables pictured. Where we live, fruits like figs, pomegranate, and guava are hard to find and typically very expensive. So this activity lent itself to teaching the students about a variety of fruits and vegetables they were unfamiliar with.
After sorting, we used the exact same materials to graph the pictures by their colors! The students discovered we tend to eat more foods of one color over others.
Eat The Rainbow Color Organization
The above color sort lead us right into a discussion about how healthy fruits and vegetables make us. They make us strong, and fast, and smart . . . all things a little four-year-old wants to be.
I invited students to organize the cards by color to make a rainbow. Once our rainbow was made, I shared with the students how we should eat foods that are colorful. We should eat a range of colors every day. We should eat the rainbow.
Finally, I invited students to select some foods from the rainbow to represent the foods they might eat in one day. The goal was for every student to have a range of colors.
Food Group Sort Book – Free Printable
The above activity naturally led us to this next one. This food group book made it fun for the preschoolers to think about what they love to eat and how they fit into eating the rainbow.
Honestly, though, I didn’t spend a lot of time discussing the nutrition of each food group. I spent more time on helping the students identify which foods fit into each group.
The directions are super simple.
- Cut two sheets of construction paper in half lengthwise. Fold in half and staple to make a booklet.
- Color the food pictures and cut them apart.
- Glue into the booklet.
Get Your Free Food Group Sorting Booklet
Fruit and Vegetable Printmaking Art
Students explored some common fruits and vegetables by doing some printmaking. I began by showing the whole food and asking the students to name them.
Then, I carefully sliced each one and the students thought it was so cool to look at the insides. We briefly discussed what we saw (but you could absolutely expand that into a full-blown food science center).
Then we got right to work doing some printmaking. We used celery, apples, mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers. I love the onions because each ring can be seen.
Painting With Celery Stalks
This activity came about unintentionally.
While cutting our celery stalk for the above activity, one student noticed how the inside stalks look like paint brushes. What a thoughtful and observant child!
Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Food File Folder Game
This printable was a favorite among my preschoolers. As a teacher, I loved it because everything can be kept nicely in the file folder. Plus, it really helped the children learn the differences between healthy and non-healthy food choices.
Students roll the dice and move their game piece the corresponding number. If the player lands on a healthy food, they add a counter to their grid.
If the player lands on something unhealthy, they collect no counter and must wait until their next turn to try again.
The game continues until a player fills their entire grid of ten. Or, for a bigger challenge or for older preschoolers, I’ve also included a score card to twenty.
You can grab your own copy of the game below.
Get Your Healthy vs. Unhealthy File Folder Game Here
This game is included in our Food and Nutrition Activity Pack.
Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Food Sort
Students used grocery ads to complete a healthy versus unhealthy food sort. Actually, it was a “healthy” versus “sometimes” food sort.
I was a little more lenient with my preschoolers than I normally am, though. For example, at our house, fruit juice is a sometimes food. I’d rather my kids eat the real fruit, with the skin, rather than the sugary juice. But, since most parents identify fruit juice a being healthy, that is how we categorized it in our sort.
Smiley Face Fruit and Vegetable Sticker Stories (Dictated)
I love dictated stories for emergent writers. I had purchased these fruit and vegetable stickers just for this activity. Students selected three stickers to be the characters of their story. Then, they added details with markers and finally, each student dictated their story to me while I wrote it down.
The below example is my son’s story, which made me laugh. The story went on to tell about the tornado and some lightning. The vegetables got in a car and drove away from the stormy weather until they were all safe. Funny story from a funny kid.
More Food & Nutrition Activities
These activities are just the start of a great unit, and one of my favorites to teach. (I know. I say that about everything preschool theme). For more engaging food and nutrition activities for preschoolers, check out my printable Food and Nutrition Activity Pack!
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.