The ideas below can be used to engage children in healthy eating experiences, teach them to recognise different foods and encourage them to experiment with new foods, tastes, flavours and textures.
The veggie guessing bag
Try this activity to increase children’s recognition and awareness of different vegetables. Place some vegetables (real or plastic) in a bag (e.g. pillow slip). Ask children to feel inside the bag and guess which vegetables are there. As a variation, blindfold children and place a vegetable in their hands. Ask them to guess what the vegetable is by feeling, smelling and even tasting it.
Choose a letter of the week
Each week taste and discuss healthy foods which start with the chosen letter of the week. For example, for the letter ‘M’ try mushroom, milk and mango.
Odd one out
Say a series of four words including three vegetables and one odd word, for example, “Carrot, potato, cat, onion”. Ask children to identify the odd word.
Make the game more challenging by using an odd word that is also a food, for example, “Celery, capsicum, carrot, yoghurt”. Ask the children why the odd word does not belong with the rest of the group.
Create a vegetable person
Create a ‘vegetable person’ using real vegetables or pictures of vegetables. Help children use toothpicks to make their vegetable person stand up and be three dimensional. If using real vegetables, encourage children to eat their vegetable person for morning or afternoon tea.
Food labelling activity
Talking about fruit and vegetables helps children recognise and become familiar with different varieties. Cut out fruit and vegetable shapes from coloured felt and ask children to label each item as they are placed on a felt board. Sing songs and read stories about the fruit and vegetables on the board.
Have a theme tasting day
Offer different kinds of healthy foods to try on a special theme day. For example, on healthy apple day offer green apples, red apples, dried apples, pureed apple and canned apples.
Create a food alphabet
Create a visual food alphabet wall display. Children can cut out pictures of food and match these to a letter or draw their own impression of the food.
Play a guessing game
“I am thinking of a food which begins with the letter….” Give extra clues like colour, shape, texture etc, until children correctly guess the food. Let children take turns to choose and describe a food.