We all know it's important to learn how to live a healthy life when we are young. As children, our daily habits, food choices, and physical activity preferences are what shape and develop us into the adults we become. Teaching kids the value of taking care of themselves through diet and exercise will give them the tools they need to feel good mentally and physically. When our bodies are fuelled properly we can dedicate more energy to the things we love such as music, sports, family, and art!
Here are 15 of our favorite nutrition activities perfect for a childhood education setting or to use at home with your kids to foster a healthy connection between food, exercise, and a happy life!
1. Planting Seeds
The best way to inspire a love of fresh foods is to grow your own! You can find packets of seeds at your local market, get some soil (or make your own), and have your kids help you plant. Encourage them to water and take care of their plants to learn the time and effort required for wholesome food to grow. Here is a list of our favorite fast-growing seeds for the classroom.
Learn more: First Discoverers
2. Food Art Masterpiece
This food art activity is great for families to make a creative game out of eating colorful foods. A little chef food art competition can make the kitchen a place of exploration and fun experiences with a focus on healthy eating. Pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables and place them on the kitchen counter for your kids to use in their masterpieces.
Learn more: Cool Mom Eats
3. Sensory-Based Exposure to Food
There is a lot of research that suggests children who are exposed to a variety of foods will be more likely to have a balanced diet as they grow up. This education program encourages kids to use their five senses to experience their food before choosing to eat or not eat it. Ask your kids to describe what they see, smell, feel, and taste as they go.
Learn more: Med India
4. Farmers' Market Fun!
Visiting your local farmers' market is a great nutrition activity for the whole family to enjoy. Taking kids to the market allows them to see and taste an assortment of foods from their area. You can discuss the processes each food has to go through to get to their belly, practice food recognition for things they have never seen, and get some fresh air and movement as a family!
Learn more: Kids Activities.com
5. Lead By Example
One of the most effective strategies to teach your kids about nutrition is to be a role model of good habits yourself! Kids are constantly observing and learning from the people around them, so if they see you eat a balanced meal and healthy snacks, they are more likely to do the same. It also helps to keep unhealthy foods out of the house, so not only are you not tempted, but neither are your kids.
Learn more: Food Network
6. Eat The Rainbow
Healthy eating habits can be fun and colorful with this rainbow food challenge. Whether you're in the kitchen or at the market, ask your kids to find a food item for each color of the rainbow. Tell them it has to be healthy foods to see if they know which products are healthy and which are not.
Learn more: Learnin Resources
7. Kids Books About Nutrition
There are plenty of cute and engaging children's books out there incorporating nutrition education, the joys of food exploration, and trying new things they thought they wouldn't like. Find out our favorite food books for kids here.
Learn more: Living Life and Learning
8. Food List Challenge Bingo
This is a fun nutrition game you can make by yourself with food images or names of items your kids can eat that day to try and win bingo. Each time they eat a wholesome food from the list they can mark it off until they get 5 in a row!
Learn more: Healthy Life Center
9. Fresh Food Coloring Experiments
Playing with food is fun for children, so this science experiment is a form of nutrition education they will love. Buy some fresh celery and place one stalk in each jar of water dyed with food coloring. Watch as the celery absorbs the water and changes colors!
Learn more: The Imagination Tree
10. Blind Taste Testing
A fun game to get more dense foods on your kids' plates is to do a blindfolded smell and taste challenge to see if they can name the foods with their other senses.
Learn more: Play-Based Parenting
11. Active Brain Collage
This body collage activity uses pictures of food and common ingredient items to teach kids how what we eat affects our body function. Have them place different food images on the area of the body where they help or harm. Some foods are good for eye health while others have cups of sugar, will hurt your heart, and should be avoided.
Learn more: Primal Peak
12. Favorite Recipes for Baking Bread
Homemade bread is one of our favorite foods to use when making meals for kids. Sandwiches, toast, and sweet loaves are great food additions to healthy meals as long as the ingredients are nutrient-dense. Here are 10 healthy bread recipes to make with your kids.
Learn more: Everyday Health
13. Cooking Together
Here is a food preparation activity you can use to teach your kids knife skills so they can help out in the kitchen and get involved in their nutrition! Start with the basics and always emphasize safety. Try encouraging your kids to cut items from all the food categories so they have experience chopping different textures and sizes.
Learn more: Meant 2 Prevent
14. Kid Fit Food Group Game
This interactive game gets your kids up and moving while learning about nutrition and making healthy choices. You can use food cut-outs, toys, or fresh produce for this activity. Read the instructions on the website to learn how to play.
Learn more: NCHPAD
15. Reading Food Labels
It is important to teach kids how to read food labels to know what the nutritional value of each item is and if it is a healthy choice to buy. Food packages tell you the amount of fat, sugar, protein, salt, and other ingredients that help and harm our bodies.
Learn more: Kids Cook Real Food