Getting children to have ‘5-a-Day’, five portions of fruit and vegetable a day, is a thankless task and leads to many sticky moments in parenting and in the dinner queue at school! These fun activities will help children see that fruit and vegetables aren’t all poisonous and will encourage them to eat them more often.
A tasting session is always a good start, challenge the children to bring in some unusual fruit or vegetables for the class to try. Put the children into groups to prepare the fruit and vegetables, some may need cooking but a quick zap in the staffroom microwave is often enough! Now draw a chart on the board with the headings ‘Name’, ‘Colour’, ‘Texture’, ‘Taste’ and ‘Like/Dislike’. Now ask the children to try all of the available fruit and vegetables. Have a bin handy just in case and check for allergies beforehand – strawberries are a common allergy. When the tasting session is over, use the plenary to ask if there were any fruit or vegetables the children hadn’t tried before and which they think they like and will have again. Were there any they thought they wouldn’t like but now they’ve tried them they do like them (remember my experiences in the school dinner line!!)?
Use the chart that accompanies this activity sheet for the children to take home to record their intake of fruit and vegetables each day. They can write on the chart what they had and with which meal or they can draw pictures of the fruit and vegetables. The visual nature of a chart will encourage them to eat more but beware of those who cheat!! Maybe an initial by each one from mum or dad might be necessary!
Time for some investigation now. Using the website http://www.dole.com/funfacts-chart4-8.html ask the children to look at their chart from activity one and select eight fruit or vegetables they liked. Thinking of the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables such as fibre source, vitamins and minerals ask them to sort their favourites into the categories on a chart highlighting the one that would come top in each category. Ask them to see if there is a superfood in their diet that comes top in more than one category. During the plenary put together a set of class superfoods that they have discovered in their research.
Time for some creativity now! The essence of a great chef is not just cooking the food to perfection but also in the presentation. The colours and shapes of fruit or vegetables can help children make brilliant art work. Ask them to plan what picture or pattern they would like to make and label their plan with the fruit or vegetable they will use. In the next lesson, ask them to bring in the fruit or vegetables they will need and, on a plate, arrange them to form the picture or pattern. The children may need some help with cutting but normal cutlery knives which aren’t sharp will usually suffice. Once the picture is complete, photograph it for a display (or the microbes will soon make a meal of it!) and then provided hygiene standards have been maintained, the children can eat their pictures!
Another great way to enjoy fruit or vegetables is via smoothies or soups. Ask the children to come up with ideas for a super smoothie or a super soup, listing the ingredients, naming it and drawing a serving suggestion for it. In the next session ask parents/children to bring in liquidisers, food processors or smoothie makers and the fruit and vegetables they need and after a safety talk, allow the children to make their own smoothies. Those who opt to make soup may need to bring in ready cooked vegetables or the process could be a lot more complicated! The sessiom could end with a ‘Battle of the Smoothies’ with a tasting session to decide which is the best one!
As an extension activity, the children could design an advertisement for their smoothie together with a catch phrase or a jingle. They could look at cartons from smoothie producers and design their own alternative packaging for their smoothie.
To end this set of activities you could arrange a ‘colour party’ where the children bring in fruit and vegetables of different colours. They could then use the website from activity three to see if there is a relationship between the colours of the vegetables and their nutritional value. Finally, encourage each child to try a piece of fruit or vegetable from each colour.
Dave Lewis, Primary teacher