Preschoolers are full of preferences and opinions, especially when it comes to food and doing healthy food and nutrition activities. Make food fun for preschoolers with these printable fruits and veggie color sorting mats.
This post contains a free printable, which you can grab from the end of the post.
Try this Healthy Food and Nutrition Activity for Preschoolers
I’m pretty sure it’s because healthy foods are just more interesting in the summer, and they are more readily available, too. My kids can’t get enough of the rainbow of colors that come home with me every Tuesday after a trip to Costco. Red watermelon and tomatoes, orange peaches and carrots, yellow bananas and bell peppers (which my kinder son eats like apples), green kiwi and “French fries” (asparagus), blue blueberries, purple potatoes and eggplant, white onions…the list goes on.
My point is that during the summer my kids fuel up on fresh and healthy fruits and veggies. We seem to eat fewer boxes of snacks like crackers, which is fine by me.
But, getting my kids to eat a diet full of fruits and veggies wasn’t (and sometimes still isn’t) easy. My youngest, well, I can’t even think of a food I can always count on him eating, and my preschool-aged son seems to think that if it isn’t a chicken nugget it must be poisonous.
In fact, both those two children I mention spent some time in food therapy, and the biggest thing I learned was to never give up on exposing your children to new or disliked foods!
Now, that exposure doesn’t have to come from making your child try a bite of a food they hate, it can come from playing in the toy kitchen and just learning about food!
Doing healthy food and nutrition activities is one of the best ways we can help our preschoolers to develop healthy eating preferences. Even if it’s just a simple color sorting activity that features fruits and veggies.
FREE Fruit and Veggie Color Sorting Mats
I have a two-year-old little boy who loves to “go sool”, (go to school), so I’m always inventing ways to include him without having to completely redesign the activity.
- free fruit and veggie color sorting printable
- pom poms in rainbow colors (or other rainbow colored manipulative)
- small tongs or tweezers
Place the mats on a table with a set of rainbow manipulatives of some sort. Here are some ideas of manipulatives you can use:
Place the counters on a tray, all mixed up, alongside the sorting mats.
How to Use these Color Sorting Mats in Your Healthy Food and Nutrition Theme
The primary activity that inspired this simple (but oh-so-fun) preschool activity is straightforward. Invite your preschooler to use the tongs or tweezers to sort the pom poms into the fruit and veggie sorting mats.
But you don’t even have to use tweezers, either. Using their fingers to pick up the pom-poms also helps develop their pincer grasp.
Using the tweezers takes coordination and strength. Your preschooler or toddler might grasp the tweezers with their whole hand or even use bother hands. If either is the case, it’s because his fingers are not strong enough. But no matter the grip on the tweezers, your preschooler will be strengthening his hands.
Talk to Your Preschoolers and Toddlers While Doing this Activity
The fine motor and color knowledge that comes with this activity is fine and all, but if you’re not talking to your preschooler about healthy food choices and about the fruits and veggies on the color sorting mats, well, you’re missing a HUGE opportunity!
Here are some things you might find yourself saying,
I see you are adding red pom poms to the red mat. What foods are on the red mat?
Can you name other foods that are also red? What is your favorite red food to eat?
If I added a blueberry to the mat, would that fit with the red foods?
There are a thousand other questions to ask your preschoolers while they work on sorting their colors. It’s important to share with your preschoolers some of your healthy food choices, too. The point is, the benefits come from lots of talking during healthy food and nutrition activities like this one.
Oh, and as a side note, it is completely ok for a preschooler to respond to a question saying they don’t like a (or any) of the food pictures. Just follow up with another question asking what foods the do like and why.
Other Healthy Food and Nutrition Activities Using this Printable
One challenge of teaching preschoolers is that they come to you with such a wide range of skills. Here are some ideas of how you can use my fruit and veggie color sorting mats with various skill levels in your classroom.
- Provide older preschoolers with various color sorting manipulatives that may be more difficult to use with tweezers. Connecting cubes, for example, may be more difficult.
- Invite your preschoolers to match play food items to the sorting mats.
- Hang these fruit and veggie color sorting mats above the play kitchen in your dramatic play center.
- Or use these mats to introduce new colors and hang them on the bulletin board.
- Invite younger preschoolers to just explore using the tweezers or tongs. Don’t worry about the color sorting.
- Or, do just the opposite and eliminate the tweezers or tongs and just invite your younger preschooler to sort the pom poms by hand.
- Add a math component by rolling a die and inviting your preschooler to count sets of pom-poms onto the sorting mats.
Looking for More Healthy Food and Nutrition Activities?
Give these a try. My preschoolers had a blast with them.
Need More Color Sorting Printables?
I’ve got some for you. Just click on the images.
Grab Your Fruit and Veggie Color Sorting Mats Here!
Just click the image below and the free printable will be sent to your email.
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.