Campaigning isn’t just for politically zealous grown-ups. As a mom, nutrition is on your short list (probably in the top spot!) of concerns for your toddler or preschooler. Nutrition is an issue important to healthy child development, and it’s easy to spread awareness among youngsters with the right campaign materials and efforts. Get your little ones on board and give them an active role in increasing nutritional education with these kid-friendly nutrition campaign ideas and materials. Getting them involved will help increase their participation in eating the meals and foods you want them to eat!
The United States Department of Agriculture (link in Resources) features a variety of nutrition materials for children, including brochures and posters. These materials use a combination of pictures and simple words to introduce and describe the importance of eating three well-balanced meals a day consisting of food from the five major food groups, such as apples, grapes, oatmeal, whole grain crackers, vegetables, yogurt and milk. Even prereaders can learn how to put healthy food options together to form a nutritious meal or snack from these promotional materials, since they feature pictures of plates labeled with these nutritious menu choices. Seeing and recognizing healthy snacks and meal components will benefit young children as they begin to develop their eating habits and make their own food choices at school and home.
The USDA also makes educational activity sheets, food facts bookmarks you can color, nutritious super-food comics and fruit and veggie stickers (link in Resources). These interactive materials are great for this age group, since toddlers and preschoolers reach developmental goals, and learn ideas and skills via arts and crafts. Simple activities like coloring a picture of grapes, cutting out vegetable stickers and circling the best food choices -- the apple, for example, amidst a selection of candies, potato chips and cookies -- will encourage young children to recognize, identify and recall healthy foods at snack or lunch time, promote nutritional awareness in youngsters while fostering cognitive and motor skills. As an added bonus, these materials will keep kids busy while you prepare healthy snacks or put the nutrition-packed groceries away.
Songs have been used for campaigning efforts in lots of versatile ways throughout history. Much like the infamous protest songs of the late ‘60s, nutrition-based children’s songs are an effective way to spread awareness and get youngsters involved in campaigning for children’s health -- minus the angered and incensed demands. Songs like Marilyn M. Linford's "Food Pyramid" contain child-friendly, yet informative, lyrics such as "There are five food groups on the food pyramid/That I should choose from each day/ Vegetables, grain, meat, dairy and fruit/Will help my body work and play/." You and your child can also compose your own nutrition-based tunes.
Books are an invaluable learning resource for children of any age. Borrow a variety of age-appropriate books on nutrition from your local children’s library, and explore the text and pictures with your child. Books such as "Blue's Snack Party" by Sarah Landry and "A Book of Fruit" by Barbara Hirsch Lember are appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers, because they use page flaps, lift-tabs and photographs to encourage sight-recognition of healthy food choices in youngsters. Make this a hands-on learning activity by sharing some of the healthy snacks featured in the literature as you and your child read and discuss. Afterward, you can bring the books to your child’s care center so that your little one can share his newfound knowledge, or encourage him to explore the books with siblings, play dates or other relatives during playtime to demonstrate and share what he has learned.
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