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I don’t know about you, but at our house we’ve definitely slipped into some unhealthy eating habits during COVID quarantine. There’s been a lot of comfort baking and we may have single-handedly kept our local pizza shop in business during lockdown. While I’ve been ready to break the bad habits, it’s been harder to get the kids' eating back on track so I thought we’d try a healthy eating and food groups theme week to help set the stage for healthier eating habits.
Introducing the topic
One resource I’ve loved throughout our quarantine homeschooling is BrainPopJr. They were offering a free subscription when the schools first shut down and there are so many great videos that help introduce a topic. Unfortunately they're no longer giving out new free subscriptions but if you're going to be homeschooling for the longterm I think the subscription is worth it. The videos are short but full of great information presented in a really clear way and they have additional supplemental materials you can use with the videos. If you don't have a BrainPop Jr. account, check out the free YouTube videos in the food groups section below.
On Monday we watched the BrainPop Jr. Eating Right video. (There’s also a BrainPopJr. video on sugar you could add to your lesson too.) After we watched the video together, we discussed what we learned.
A Note of Caution: Your Choice of Words Matter
It was important to me that I didn’t inadvertently create any body image or fat shaming issues when discussing this topic (this is NOT the time to discuss the quarantine-fifteen!) Instead I centered the conversation around the nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy. We talked about how some foods have more nutrients than other foods. We also talked about how junk food has less nutrients and also often contains too much salt, sugar or fat which aren’t good for our bodies and can lead to health problems. My preschooler got concerned and asked if this meant we can never have cake again. I reassured him that a special treat is still ok sometimes as long as it’s not every day and as long as we also make sure we’re eating nutritious foods throughout the day.
The Food Groups
On Tuesday we reviewed our conversation on eating right and used that as a starting point for introducing the food groups. We discussed that eating healthy means eating well-balanced meals. We used a BrainPopJr video on the Food Groups to introduce the topic. After the video we reviewed what the different food group are; fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains and dairy. I presented some food items and asked Mr. J to guess which food group each item belonged to in order to test out what we learned. On Wednesday we watched a Sid the Science Kid clip on the Food Groups to review the 5 groups. On Friday we used the SciShow Kids video, You Are What You Eat. (There are so many great free videos on the SciShow YouTube channel. We're fans!) After each video we discussed what we learned and recited the food groups. We also discussed which food group we should be eating the most of, vegetables! We named as many vegetables as we could think of.
Putting Our Knowledge to Practice
Food Collage Activity
I handed Mr. J a magazine and asked him to cut out pictures of different types of food. Once he was done we folded a piece of paper in half. He had wrote “healthy” on one side of the paper and “unhealthy” on the other side. He then sorted the pictures of the foods into the two columns. He had way more fun with this activity than I anticipated and when we've looked at magazines since he's remarked that a photo of a food item would go on the healthy or unhealthy side!
Food Sorting Activity
For this activity we wrote the different food groups on strips of construction paper and then sorted different foods we had in the house into the different food groups. The kids enjoyed grabbing items from the pantry and fridge to sort!
Letter Sound of the Week and Sight Word of the Week
All week we reviewed the letter sound "f" for food, fruit, fig, and fish. Our sight word of the week was "eat."
Mr. J's review sheet of our letter of the week, number of the week and sight word of the week.
For our Monday Math activity we used blueberries as counters. Our number of the week was 9 so we made the number 9 out of blueberries, counted out nine blueberries and then practiced some simple adding and subtracting with our blueberry counters. We then of course ate our counters for a snack!
At every meal throughout the week we talked about what food groups our meal was composed of. Repetition is so important at this age to help retain new information. Mr. J also helped in food preparation. I bought him his own child safe knife set which I had been meaning to get for a while. We discussed knife safety and practiced cutting some fruit for our lunch and made a fruit salad rainbow. While making the fruit salad we reviewed the colors of the rainbow that we had learned during our rainbow unit back in March!
At lunch time on Friday I challenged Mr. J to make a lunch (with my supervision) that had all 5 food groups. He came up with a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread, carrot sticks, blueberries and a glass of almond milk. (I know we’re cheating a bit on the dairy here since almond milk isn’t actually dairy!)
We also made a healthier dessert of banana ice pops using ripe bananas, almond butter, almond milk, a dash of cinnamon and a tiny bit of sugar. They were a hit! I'll share our ice pop recipes in a new post to come.
Mr. J still rocking his Christmas jammies in July. Living the life.
Art History Lesson and Art Project
For our Thursday Art lesson we looked at the work of Jason Mecier who uses food in his artwork and made our own pasta portraits. Stay tuned for the full art lesson post to come later this week!
At the end of the week are my kids magically eating all their vegetables and not asking for cookies every night? Well, no. But, they’ve definitely absorbed a lot of these lessons and are talking about healthy foods. Mr. J even ate some broccoli without fighting me. Small wins!
May your kids' appetite for learning be strong, and your coffee stronger.
-School of Mommy