Thanksgiving is a great time to teach preschoolers about health and nutrition. With the approaching holiday that promotes “feasting”, what better time than now to offer your preschoolers a few nutrition activities.
Easy Thanksgiving Nutrition Activities for Kids
I think most people agree it is important to teach children healthy eating habits from a young age.
With all the food commercials and promotions geared toward little bodies, it’s even more important to actively talk about what good nutrition is, since our kids receive information from various sources that may or may not be best.
And simply modeling for your child isn’t enough anymore either. We have to actively engage our children in healthy eating and openly talk about it with them.
Here I am offering three games and activities to teach preschoolers about healthy eating. These can easily be added to your Thanksgiving lesson plans and other kids nutrition activities.
Three Nutrition Activities for Preschoolers
These activities are crazy simple, require no prep at all, yet they are super effective. All you will need are some grocery ads from your local newspaper.
Teach Healthy vs. “Sometimes” Foods
This is a fun way to learn about “junk”food.
Start by teaching your preschooler the different between healthy foods and “sometimes” foods. I like this approach better than teaching healthy versus unhealthy because when we refer to foods as being unhealthy that gives the impression that we should never, ever eat them.
But, is it really all that bad to have fries and a burger every once in a while, or to indulge in a slice of birthday cake at a party?
I think not. (Although I am NOT a dietitian or a pediatrician.)
Instead I teach my kids and preschoolers that there are healthy foods that we can eat as much of as we want. Namely, fruits and vegetables. At the dinner table, I tell my own kids they are always welcome to have seconds on salad, green beans, or whatever our main veggie is.
Sometimes foods are things that are ok to eat in moderation and always with a parent’s permission. Examples include popsicles, cheesy crackers, and all forms of sweet treats like candy and cake.
Now, my own definition of a “sometimes” food is bound to be different from another mother’s.
So, ask yourself this question, “It’s 5:30 pm and dinner is in 1/2 an hour. Am I ok with my kid filling up on ___ and not eating his dinner?” For me, I don’t care if my kids fill up on carrots or bananas or really any other vegetable of fruit before dinner. I do care if they fill up on butter crackers or cheese sticks before dinner.
Look Through Holiday Food Ads with Your Preschooler
My kids love, and I mean love, looking through the holiday food ads. They are brightly colored and the paper is shiny, and my kids love to anticipate what we could prepare for our Thanksgiving meal.
This is also an activity I love to do with my preschoolers each year. After discussing what healthy and sometimes foods are, we search the ads, as a class, for foods that fall into each category.
Then, I invite the preschoolers to look through the ads themselves and cut out pictures of food they are interested in. I do not give them a set standard of how much of each kind of food to cut out. They just cut out what looks appealing to them.
So while we learn beforehand what healthy and sometimes foods are, I do not monitor their choices in this activity because more discussion will come later.
Here my daughter is cutting out a salad, which she still just calls, “green leaves.”
This also makes fantastic scissor cutting practice as it gives the children the flexibility to mess up a bit and it doesn’t matter.
Finally, we shared with one another some of our favorite foods we cut out. I made up a little impromptu game where one preschooler would share something with the class that he had cut out and then the rest of the preschoolers would look through their own pile of foods to see if they had the same or similar image.
This was an excellent Thanksgiving sorting activity because the children had to decide what made their pictures alike, even if they were not the same.
Let Preschoolers Help with Thanksgiving Meal Planning
Now, we didn’t cut out those food ads just for the above activity. I also challenged the children to make up their own Thanksgiving meal with the foods they had so carefully cut out.
Most of the preschoolers cut out way too many food pictures for their plate, so they had to pick and choose what they wanted to include most. This time, however, I did challenge them to make up a healthy meal with only a few, if any, “sometimes” foods.
They colored the rim of their plates for added decoration and got to work pasting their foods down into a collage.
When they were finished, we gathered at the circle time area one last time to finish our Thanksgiving nutrition activities.
At the circle time area, the children were invited to share their favorite parts of the meal they had “prepared” for Thanksgiving. This helps them develop their oral language skills as they have to articulate the meal they planned themselves. They have to articulate something specific to themselves rather than just what they have heard.
I love these activities for all he healthy habits it teaches children, and activities like these help preschoolers make healthy choices. The food ads provide a variety of foods for the children to consider, and it’s far easier than taking a trip to the grocery store with preschoolers in tow.
More Food and Nutrition Activities for Preschoolers
These are some of our most popular posts. From ice cream themed measurement cards to eat a rainbow food diary, add these to your food activities in preschool.
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.