Teaching a Food and Nutrition preschool theme is a fun and effective way to teach preschoolers about healthy eating habits. Try these 16+ healthy eating activities for preschoolers and add them to your lesson plans!
16+ Healthy Eating Activities for Preschoolers
Teaching a food and nutrition preschool theme is a great way to teach children about eating healthy, and it’s a very fitting theme for November as we enter into the holiday season.
As we all know, healthy living has to be taught…so why not start by teaching healthy eating habits in preschool? This post features more than 16 healthy eating activities for preschoolers and toddlers. Activities include fun food group games, fruits and vegetables learning activities, as well as what healthy eating looks like. They even get to practice their knowledge at the grocery store (a pretend grocery store or the real one!).
How to Teach Healthy Eating to Preschoolers
One thing I get asked frequently is how to teach healthy eating to preschoolers. I bet you can guess my answer, right?
Start with some high quality lesson plans! (I’ve got you covered there.)
But here are some more tips to help get you started:
- If you don’t follow any kind of dietary restrictions, follow the USDA food guide.
- Try out a variety of foods within each food group.
- Encourage snacks to be fruits and vegetables, rather than crackers or cereal bars.
- Beware of sugars in prepackaged foods. Sugar has many names. Some include: any ingredient ending in -ose, any food ending in “sugar,” and any syrup.
- Use the “healthy versus sometimes” method.
What are Healthy vs Sometimes Foods?
The “healthy versus sometimes” method of teaching good eating habits takes the negativity out of foods that are high in sugar or high in fat. Instead of saying your preschooler can’t have a particular food because it’s a “junk” food, refer to it as a “sometimes” food.
“Sometimes” foods are those that are less healthy that are okay to have every once in a while, but not every day. These are foods that are not nutrient dense and should be saved for celebrations, parties, and holidays. The important thing to stress is that these foods are not innately “bad.” It’s okay to have them during the appropriate circumstances, but they aren’t the healthiest choices we can make–therefore, we save them for special occasions.
You’ll notice that all of the Food and Nutrition activities on this site–including these Learn At Home Preschool Lesson Plans–are centered around the “healthy vs sometimes” food methodology.
What are the Learn At Home Preschool Lesson Plans?
The Learn at Home Preschool Lesson Plans are free lesson plans you can use to teach your preschooler at home.
All the preschool learning activities are quick and easy to set up, designed to save time, requiring hardly any (if any at all) prep and only requiring the most basic of household materials. This makes them especially easy for parents to implement…and this makes preschool teachers especially happy, too!
Just glance over the lessons each day, gather the very few materials needed, and you’re ready to go!
But don’t be fooled by the name “at home” preschool lessons plans! These activities work wonderfully in the classroom as well, and if you’re a preschool teacher who is remotely teaching you can send these lesson plans to your students’ parents.
Want More Free Lesson Plans for Preschoolers?
Looking for more free preschool lesson plans? Try all the preschool themes included in my Learn At Home Preschool Lesson Plans Collection.
New activity sets are rolled out weekly. Themes include everything from apples, spring, and bugs & butterflies to 1st Week of School, Family & Pets, and now…Fire Safety Preschool Lesson Plans!
Be sure to subscribe to keep up with the latest set of activities and have them automatically emailed to you when they’re ready.
To find all my Learn at Home Preschool lesson plans, see here:
>>> LEARN AT HOME PRESCHOOL LESSON PLAN COLLECTION <<<
In total, I will have 40+ sets of free preschool lesson plans (that can easily be used for homeschool preschool or in the classroom) by the end of the school year. Seriously, make sure you have subscribed so that you don’t miss a week of free lesson plans!
Literacy Activities for a Food and Nutrition Theme
Weekly Menu – Invite your preschooler to help write the week’s menu together. Encourage detailed pictures and beginning letter sounds for each word on the menu. Once the menu is completed, bring the list with you to the grocery store and check off the items that you purchase. Allow your preschooler to be “in charge” of grocery shopping and tell you what items need to be put in the cart.
Food Box Alphabet – Find empty food boxes from the pantry or fridge and cut out the letters in your preschooler’s name. Write your preschooler’s name on a sheet of paper and then invite him or her to glue the letter cut-outs onto cardboard to spell their name. Food cardboard can be difficult to cut so you may need to assist in the cutting. Invite your preschooler to also cut out things they like to eat from magazines and decorate their name piece.
You can take this up another notch by using clear contact paper to “laminate” their creation and then use it as a placemat at mealtime.
Math and Science Activities for a Food and Nutrition Theme
Counting Soup – Make a counting “soup” by offering several small toys and a dice. Roll the dice and then count out that many toys, add them to a pot, and stir, stir, stir! You can use a dice with pips or a numeral dice if you want your preschooler to practice number identification.
Fruit and Veggie Patterns – Make colorful patterns with these fruit and veggie pattern cards. Print and invite your preschooler to create easy and challenging patterns with fruit and vegetables. Invite him or her to name the food and create different patterns.
If you don’t have a printer, you can easily replicate this activity by using squares cut from colored construction paper. Challenge your preschooler to think of fruits and vegetables that are the same color as the squares you’re using.
Healthy vs. Junk Food Sort –This is great way to teach about “sometimes foods” and “always foods.” Cut out foods from newspaper ads or magazines and create a list of always foods (healthy) and sometimes foods (junk food). Start by folding a piece of construction paper in half lengthwise, and then label one column “Healthy Foods.” Add a smiley face. Label the second column “Sometimes Foods” and add a flat face (two eyes and a straight line for a mouth). Then sort the pictures cut from the newspaper ads.
Playful Learning Activities for a Food and Nutrition Theme
Get Moving– Invite your preschooler to try new exercises. Can you do a pushup? Burpee? Mountain climber? Encourage your preschooler to make up their own exercise routine to stay fit and healthy. And create an exercise log for the week!
Food Box Towers – Grab those empty food boxes and build a masterpiece! Build towers with empty food containers and see how many you can add to the tower before it crashes. Keep trying! You can also do this with cleaned food cans. Just tape the open end with some masking or duct tape to keep little hands safe.
Play Color Corners – Go to a room and label each corner with a different color of construction paper. Close your eyes and invite your preschooler to choose a corner. Call out a color and if your preschooler is there you win! Challenge your preschooler to think of food items that are the same color as the construction paper in that corner. Trade places and play again.
Social-Emotional Activities for a Food and Nutrition Theme
Social Time at the Table– We all know eating is a social time…so use this special time to your advantage. Create a list of fun and silly questions to ask one another at dinner time. Would you rather be a fly or a grasshopper? If you had $100, what would you spend it on? What household chore is your least favorite? Encourage your preschooler to use complete sentences while speaking.
Eating with Manners – Go to YouTube and listen to the book How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. These silly dinosaurs are quite rude at the beginning of the book. Ask your preschooler to go back through the book and pick out the things that the dinosaurs are doing that are rude and model poor manners. Encourage your preschooler to share all the ways that they can show manners when they eat with others like saying “excuse me” or chewing with their mouth closed or staying calm and quiet at the table. Eating together is a positive thing, and eating together with manners is great fun!
Just Plain Fun Activities for a Food and Nutrition Theme
Eat the Rainbow – Encourage your preschooler to set a goal to ’eat the rainbow.’ This will help encourage good eating habits and mindfulness around food choices. Eating the rainbow helps us remember to eat a range of foods, and therefore a variety of nutrients.
Cooking at Home – Grab a favorite recipe and invite your preschooler to help. Young children learn so much by being in the kitchen, including mixing and scooping, measuring correctly, and holding a child-safe knife appropriately. Plus it’s so fun!
Dramatic Play Kitchen – Gather empty food boxes and cleaned out food cans for the dramatic play area. Set up a table for a restaurant and pretend to cook the food. No play kitchen required!
Get Online Activities for a Food and Nutrition Theme
Online Story – Go to YouTube and listen to the book Eating the Alphabet Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert. Point out the fruits and vegetables that your preschooler has already eaten. Which new fruits and veggies does your preschooler want to try?
Good Foods Song – This popular song by Jack Hartmann is great for modeling foods that help you grow big and keep you healthy.
Fruits and Vegetables Song– Help your preschooler learn all the fruits and veggies and add them to your grocery list for a taste test!
Get your Free Food & Nutrition Preschool Lesson Plans Here
Think you want to try out these free food and nutrition lesson plans for preschool? Grab your own copy here. Just click the image below and a PDF will be sent to your inbox.
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.