If nutrition is the foundation of good health, it's no wonder parents of young children worry so much! Kid sugar lust can make parents concerned that their children will never eat their veggies.
But never fear! This activity is a fun way to introduce your child to the concept of a balanced diet. He'll make his own food pyramid poster with the healthiest foods marked with a shiny gold star. Make it a contest to see how many good foods he can eat in a week, and pretty soon he'll be asking for vegetables instead of boycotting them!
Use the measuring tape to help your child draw a large triangle on the poster board and divide it into six wedges vertically, making sure that the top section is much smaller than the other five. For a model, visit www.MyPyramid.gov. There's no need to be exactly proportional when drawing the wedges, just make sure that five are about the same size.
Label the wedges: grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy, meat and beans, and the narrow slice fats, sugars, and salt. If your child has started writing, invite him to write the word, or at least the first letter of every word, to get in some writing practice.
Grab some magazines with pictures of all types of food, or newspaper ads from a grocery store. Look through the pictures of foods and have your child identify each one. Then ask him if he knows where that food would go on the poster.
Cut out pictures of different foods, and try to get at least 3 for each category!
When he has a big pile, help him sort the pictures and lay them onto the poster in the category for which they belong. Then tape them on.
Talk about the values of different foods. For example, fish and chicken both fall under the meat category but fish is better for you. Oatmeal and white bread are both under the grains category but oatmeal is the healthier choice.
Place gold star stickers next to the foods that are the best, like berries, broccoli, low-fat milk, and whole wheat bread.
Then, create a "points" system, where the best foods amount to ten points, the good foods five points, and the fatty, sugary foods have one point. Write the points into each category so he can see which ones he should be aiming to eat more often. (This will also help him practice his number recognition!)
Hang the poster on the fridge or on a cabinet, so when he hungrily wanders into the kitchen for a snack he can get ideas for a healthier choice.
Keep track of what he eats throughout the week in the notebook. Write a ten down when he eats the best foods, a five down for good foods, etc.
At the end of the week, see how many tens, fives, and ones he has. If he has mostly tens and fives, reward him with a small treat (a trip to the park, a new set of markers, etc). If he has mostly ones and fives, reconsider your shopping list and try again until he's figured out the "good" foods from the "not so good" ones. It will help your child learn what the best foods are, and might even make the whole family eat healthier!