Preschool printables make lesson planning extra easy, especially if they can be used again and again. Simplify your healthy eating lesson planning with these printable food and nutrition activities for preschoolers!
Six Nutrition Activities for Preschoolers
Teaching preschoolers healthy eating can be challenging. Their little taste buds are drawn to sweet treats and salty, crispy foods (aren’t all ours?), so it’s not always easy to influence them to choose healthy eating choices. Good thing preschoolers aren’t always in charge, right?
Preschool activities that support healthy eating are an important part of your Food & Nutrition theme preschool lesson plans. It’s important to keep things playful using games and activities to teach kids that healthy eating can be fun and enjoyable.
FAQ About Teaching Nutrition to Preschoolers
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.
Nutrition Week Activities for Teaching Healthy Eating
One way to help children make good choices when it comes to eating habits is to allow them to play with food! At least when it comes in a printable. These six healthy eating activities for kids are not only crowd pleasers, but they are so effective in teaching children about food groups and how to eat healthily.
Is It Healthy? File Folder Game
In this game (conveniently kept together in a file folder), preschoolers roll a die and then move their counter the corresponding spaces. If they land on a healthy food, they can add a counter to their scorecard. If it’s junk food, they get no counter. The first player to complete their scorecard wins the game. And, there are two different scorecards included, one to ten and one to twenty, both in ten frames.
Fruit and Vegetable Riddles
These riddles are just the right difficulty for preschoolers.
Each card has three clues. Set out two picture cards that can be possible answers (like two fruits, one obviously being the answer). Read the riddle, one clue at a time, to the preschoolers until they guess the fruit or vegetable. After the preschoolers discover the answer, it’s fun to talk about the answer and their experience with it.
You can even show your preschoolers the real fruit or vegetable and have a tasting at snack time.
Fruit and Vegetable Pattern Cards
These fruit and veggie pattern cards are the perfect addition to any math center. The set includes both AB and ABC pattern cards, and the sets are divided by fruits and vegetables, so it’s easy to just pull out a smaller set.
Over 30 pattern cards are included, so you can meet the needs of all the children in your preschool classroom.
Eat the Rainbow Food Journals
A simple and fun way to help preschoolers understand food choices is to have them keep a food journal. In this printable food journal, preschoolers learn the importance of “eating the rainbow“, and they show that by filling their plates and then marking which colors they ate throughout the day. Simple. Fun. Effective. (And I should add that this booklet teaches print awareness and math skills, too!)
Food and Nutrition Themed Gross Motor Games
You have several options with this set of cards, and your choices depend on your child’s current skills and abilities. Here are five options, but the possibilities are endless:
- Use contact paper to secure the cards to the floor (or a shower curtain for easy reuse) in rows by food groups and play a traditional game of twister.
- Prepare the game as above and have the children hop, tiptoe, skate, etc. to the food cards.
- Scatter the cards out on the floor and invite the children to race to find a specific food group and bring the card back to the starting line.
- Place the food cards around the room and challenge the children to find food that fit into specific food groups.
- Select any activity above but have your preschooler look for colors rather than food groups.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Food Sort
Preschoolers get to work on their fine motor and sorting skills in one printable activity! Identify the food and if it is a healthy food choice or an unhealthy one, then clip it to the corresponding side.
Get Your Printable Nutrition Activities for Preschoolers Here
Think these will make an awesome addition to your food and nutrition theme in preschool? (They will!) You can get them here!
More Food and Nutrition Printables
Here are even more food activities for preschoolers. With these thematic centers and emergent readers, plus the activity pack above, your lesson plans for the month are covered!
More Food Theme Ideas for Preschoolers
From healthy food crafts and process art to all other activities to teach healthy eating, I’ve got you covered with these food and nutrition activities for kids, especially 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.
Whitney Houlin says
I like this idea but coming from a nutrition background I strongly suggest changing your wording to “always’ foods and “sometimes” foods. Teaching kids that those foods (that we all enjoy!) like candy, ice cream, etc. is associated with a sad face encourages an unhealthy (no pun intended) relationship with food and that eating those things should make you feel bad. We can do better! We shouldn’t be teaching our kids to associate emotions with foods.
Sarah Punkoney, MAT says
Thanks for your feedback! I actually love the terms “always” and “sometimes” in regards to foods and absolutely use those for my preschoolers. In fact, I talk about it in several other posts. My only reason for using a sad face here is simply that I needed a visual to use with my preschoolers that helped them understand that junk food, for example, is a sometimes food. A frown face is the best I could think of. Since preschoolers cannot read, I can’t write “sometimes” and expect them to understand the task. But, if you have an alternative idea for a visual I could use for the “sometimes” foods, I’m all ears!