What? Eating healthy with your kid teaches all that? Well, YES!
If you are an avid reader of our blog (and we are so glad you are!) then you know that we believe in the power of gardening, healthy eating, getting our kids in the kitchen and much more. My 29 month old has been gardening like crazy with me in the last 2 weeks as we prepare our warm season crops. The cool season crops are starting to fizzle and our daily handful of snow peas have become a scattered one or two a day. He eats much less fruits and vegetables when they are from the fridge and not the garden. It is the perfect time to amp our eating habits!
My kids really do eat healthy and we talk about food often. I would even consider my kids foodies - they know what they like, how to make it, and are not afraid to try anything. BUT, my toddler's vocabulary and interest in "academic" concepts is very low. So I thought that if I combined the two, he may be better able to make the connections! He is NOT one to learn a concept by using flash cards, he is one that needs to experience it through a meaningful real-life situation and have this experience repeated over and over again!
We started off on Monday going through one of my gardening seed catalogs and taking about the names of the fruits and vegetables (vocabulary!) and their colors. Then, we picked out one or two pictures for each color of the rainbow. My 2 year old needed help cutting the pictures out from the big pages, but I made sure that he was able to cut one or two sides per picture! (fine motor) I then let him glue the plate (more squeezing for fine motor) and tried to convince him to glue the edges, not just a big puddle in the middle! When he was done gluing, he picked up the pictures and put them on the plate. As he did this, we played a game of , "What color is this?" or "What is this vegetable." (repetition is key!) We talked about how important it is for our bodies to eat a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables.
He must have understood, because he immediately took it to our pretend kitchen and said, "I cook healthy for baby," He put wolf in the highchair and gave him the plate of fruit and veggies. Then, took the pitcher and said, "Pour cup of water." Now he is not only hearing the concepts, but teaching his stuffed animals - I LOVED IT and it was all his idea! (Why didn't I think of that?)
We re-read the book, Rainbow Bunch each morning along with some other fruit and veggie books. The Rainbow Bunch is a rhyming story that helps young children to understand why we need to give our bodies healthy food… and what can happen when we don’t! My 5 year old was able to read the text independently and my 2 year old was content to snuggle in and talk about the book with me. I emphasised that eating healthy helps us to be strong and learn in our discussions! The illustrations are just delightful and I enjoyed how each character dressed in different colors to represent the rainbow. Both of my kids liked the facts at the end of the book as much, if not more than the story.
Then, to really have the concepts sink in, much of our time this week centered around this "Today I Ate a rainbow Chart." I was a little worried that we had one chart and two children, but I just assigned each kid their own shape for the week. (It comes with at least 4 for those of you with more kiddos) My five year old got the concept immediately. By day 2 she was independently putting her shapes up after eating. Her comment after dinner the second night was, "Wow, I didn't eat a blue or purple fruit or vegetable today. Do you think we could have frozen blueberries for desert???" Of course, I didn't mind!
My tot on the other hand wanted to shove the magnets into the space between the fridge and freezer. I first talked to him about the chart and how to use the magnets. For him, I am having him match the fruit or vegetable in his hand with the corresponding circle. For example, we had tangerines for our snack. Afterwards, we came to the chart and I handed him a tangerine. "We just ate a tangerine for snack. Do you know what color the tangerine is?" Because he was not able to answer, I gave him choices, "Is is blue or orange?" (pointing to the colors on the chart as I said this) If he said orange, I repeated, "That is right, the tangerine is orange." For the first couple of days, I modeled (or showed him) how to match the correct circle color to the fruit. Then towards the end of the week, I had him show me which color circle matched the fruit (or vegetable) and move it hiself. He really struggled with matching the circle color to the fruit color and then placing the circle in the correct color place on the chart. We did a lot of
I do (I model or show him how to do it)
We do (We do it together)
You do (You do it on your own)
This teaching strategy gave him the support he needed to be successful with this task. We may continue this chart for another week, because I feel like he is really starting to make the connections between the color words and the foods he is eating. Yippee!!! Because I have been using this chart with my 5 1/2 year old AND my 2 1/2 year old, I can honestly say that it takes a lot of teaching and parenting time with the younger child. I think that this time is time well spent if it can get my children started with healthy eating habits. I would recommend this for any parent who is trying to make sure their children are eating healthy, like a little extra eating challenge, want to encourage their children to try new foods, have a picky eater or just want to spend more time talking with their children about good eating habits.
And our day would not be complete without this adorable song about Eating a Rainbow!
We received the Book and Magnetic kits for review from Today I Ate A Rainbow!TM, but the thoughts and opinions are entirely our own! We encourage you to check out their website, there are so many other resources provided for parents that the kit did not contain but is so worth your time!
We've attached a few of the helpful links for you here.
In The Rainbow Kitchen kids cooking videos Downloadable Resources Rainbow Eaters Certificate Stainless Steel Fridge Alternate Options Rainbow Song Videos Today I Tried Chart
Rainbow Activities Links on The Educators' Spin On it
Let's Eat a Rainbow Ideas from Little Hands that Cook with Books
Don't forget to stop byToday I At a Rainbow to buy your kit today!
Thanks to Janet at the Rainbowplate.com for sharing with me another adorable song about eating a rainbow. It is available for download here for $1.00.