Since healthy eating habits are solidified by adolescence (and maybe since preschoolers are naturally selective eaters), many preschool teachers like to include a Food and Nutrition Theme in their preschool curriculum. Especially during November when our homes are suddenly infiltrated by high carbs and sweet treats.
So this year during your Food and Nutrition Theme, you’ll want to include these six preschool math activities. I’m focusing on a fruit and veggie patterning activity, but read to the end of the post to get five additional food and nutrition themed math activities.
Oh, and grab your free printable fruit and veggie patterning cards, too! It’s at the end of this post.
Free Food and Nutrition Printable
During one of my first years teaching preschool, I had offered some fresh sliced peaches and bananas to my small class of eight students for their mid-morning snack.
Now, I always feel like serving fresh fruit or vegetables is a really big deal in preschool, especially when I am either fronting the money for them myself or asking parents to put up their own money to feed our class snacks. (I have opted not to be a part of the national food program for in-home preschools).
Fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive. Especially peaches.
Well, that morning, I invited our special helper for the day to pass out the plates of fresh peaches and bananas, and he carefully helped pass out cups of water to each student.
Then it happened.
Another student aggressively shoved his plate across the table, and said, “I hate peaches!”
Boy, did that get under my skin.
I always encourage my preschoolers to try disliked food anyway, because “one day you might like it.” And often I can convince them to take a few bites anyway.
But not this day…and that got under my skin even more. Now, I’m not going to disclose how I handled the situation, but I will tell you it was not my finest moment in teaching.
And, wow! Have I learned a lot since then!
And do you know what?!
That’s right! It is totally and completely okay for a child to be selective in what they eat.
***In full disclosure, I am not a pediatrician nor food therapist. If you are concerned about your child’s diet or eating habits, please seek professional advice.***
Expose them to more of it. And do it frequently.
Food and Nutrition Theme Patterning Activity
Be sure to read to the end of this post for more food and nutrition theme math activities and some free printables, too!
- free food and nutrition theme printable (found at the end of the post)
Print in color on heavy cardstock and laminate for added durability.
***Note, if you want your preschooler to be able to leave their fruit and veggie patterning mats set out and completed until all of them are done, you will need to print multiple copies of the last page of the pdf.***
Set the patterning mats on a tray with the food cards near and invite your preschooler to join you in this food and nutrition theme math activity.
The Food and Nutrition Theme Activity
What makes this patterning activity different from others isn’t that it’s done in a food and nutrition theme. Ha! (Although I love any printable I can add to my food and nutrition theme lesson plans. 😉 )
No, what makes this math printable unique is that these are not traditional patterning cards where the task is to fill in the last space after reading the pattern. This is a patterning mat, and preschoolers are tasked to fill in the middle pieces of the patterns.
Now, that is a lot more challenging!
See how the question marks fall in different places in the patterning mat?
In the first row, the missing pattern piece is at the end of the row. In the second row, the missing pattern piece falls second to the last.
The question mark, or missing pattern piece, moves forward in each row. This makes it substantially more challenging for preschoolers, especially for those preschoolers who are already quite good at continuing and completing patterns.
You see, as the question mark in each row moves forward, the preschooler has fewer clues about how to complete the pattern. It’s a shift from…
A, B, A, B, A, B, ____
to something like…
A, B, ___, B, A, B, A
This approach to filling in patterns is good for preschoolers in that is requires them to really think critically about what they are seeing and the rhythm of the pattern.
Grab Your Free Fruit and Veggie Patterning Cards
Think your preschooler will enjoy this patterning activity? Go ahead and download it by clicking the image below! Then keep reading for even more healthy eating activities!
5 Food and Nutrition Theme Math Activities
Looking for more food and nutrition theme math activities for preschoolers? You can try some of these ideas.
- Use the free printable below to do the above pattern activity.
- Invite your preschooler to use play food to match to the pattern pieces.
- Invite your preschooler to use the pattern cards in a graphing activity or to make up their own patterns.
- Invite your preschooler to build a vegetable garden like this one!
- Try any one of these food and nutrition math activities for preschoolers!
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.