All the charts on the walls, all the food pyramids on the fridge won't turn your kids on to good food and nutrition like getting their hands and hearts into it will. Getting them involved with food, making it connect to everyday experiences, helping them to see food as a part of culture and history, or art and science will make nutrition and healthy eating fun and interesting.
For little children:
The younger crowd has not yet been bombarded with nutrition facts and figures, or an overload of "eat it, it's good for you." They are still receptive and open to experiencing food. If you can set aside a small space in the kitchen and a small bit of your tolerance and patience (they are going to make a mess and waste some food) then they will begin to learn about food inside and out, while you sneak in a few comments about nutrition.
The set up: In a lower cupboard set aside at least the lower shelf for use by your baby and toddler. Supply it with the kitchen tools they need. Those include only those your imagination can put to use. Yogurt containers with lids, (fill with beans to make a tambourine), an old oatmeal box (good drum material), plastic bowls (for stirring and mixing), plastic measuring spoons, wooden spoons, rubber spatulas, plastic cookie cutters, rolling pin, plastic measuring cups
Some project ideas:
- Salt dough: If you haven't already experienced salt dough, you will be more than happy with this new discovery. It was a real mainstay in my house for many years. Together you and your child can mix up the dough, then you can set him to work molding, sculpting, rolling and cutting, pounding and squishing.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
a little less than 1/2 cup water
Mix flour and salt, add water until mixture holds together like dough, knead.
This dough will keep in the refrigerator for a few days if stored in plastic.
Once the final shape has been decided, bake it in a warm oven (200 to 250) until dry. Thicker pieces will take longer and may be better air dried. Once dried they can be painted. Some great ideas are: hand impression plaques, cookie cutter ornaments, animal sculptures, beads and free form shapes.