The importance of instilling healthy eating habits in children, as well as teaching them about the vital roles that several micro and macronutrients play in our physical development, cannot be overstated.
I try to make a concerted effort to show my kids that they can enjoy eating fast foods and desserts only when they also eat their vegetables 🥔, grains, fruits, and nuts.
Through the activities listed below, I have tried to help parents explain the function of nutrients to their young children in a fun and effective way.
I have also included several recipes in this article to showcase that healthy eating should not be synonymous with bland/ boring food and how different cuisines around the world 🌏 are examples of the same.
Interesting Nutrition Activities for Kids
It is amazing to see how our society’s focus has shifted from being thin to being healthy. However, hyper-fixing what you eat and how you look is not something I want for my kids.
I want them to have a healthy relationship with food, where they can appreciate the effects of healthy foods on their body while also not feeling ashamed for indulging in fast food 🍕from time to time.
In my experience, having honest conversations with my kids about food was the best way for me to make them eat their veggies and fruits 🍒, as well as setting an example with my eating habits. Hopefully, the activities, lessons, and recipes listed below can help you do the same as well.
Play The Veggie Game
Teach your preschoolers about different vegetables with this activity.
What you need- Different vegetables 🥕 and a serving tray.
- Cut different vegetables 🍆into bite-size pieces and lay them on the serving tray.
- Introduce each vegetable 🫑 to your child and ask them for the color of each vegetable.
- Talk to them about the benefits of eating each vegetable. For instance, my platter had broccoli 🥦, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and spinach.
- One by one, I told my children how a healthy meal should consist of a mixture of these vegetables as they help us grow.
- You can also ask your child to investigate each vegetable. Let them touch each vegetable, smell them, and even taste them.
This activity is meant for elementary school 🏫 children with at least intermediate knowledge about nutritious foods. If there are more than three children playing, divide them into smaller groups.
Once the kids are settled, ask them to take out a piece of paper and write a menu for a healthy lunch. Then, ask them to draw the same as well. After they are finished, discuss the menu and the pros and cons of each dish in the menu.
Grow a Garden
Show your children how vegetables are grown by turning a patch in your backyard into a vegetable garden 🏡.
My kids and I started by removing the grass and weeds from our backyard and then fixed some wooden planks to demarcate the area in which we planted our vegetables.
Add mulch and fertilizer to the soil and follow it up with saplings of locally grown vegetables. We decided to grow root vegetables like beetroots and carrots 🥕.
We also sowed the sapling for a tomato 🍅plant. Encourage your kids to take care of the plant by watering the plant regularly. Help your children harvest the vegetables once they have grown.
Foods That Support Muscle Growth
All kids are obsessed with growing older and taller, but sometimes, they are not the biggest fans of foods that can support their growth and healthy development.
To grow taller and build the necessary musculature, kids must eat a protein-rich diet, which includes eating eggs 🥚, beans, fish, tofu, yogurt, nuts, and seeds.
I am personally not a fan of a restrictive diet. I want my kids to enjoy a cookie 🍪, a chocolate bar, or an ice cream without feeling any shame or guilt surrounding it. However, I also want them to eat foods that are good for their physical and mental growth.
Therefore, I try to explain why certain foods are more beneficial than others, and I have noticed that it does help my children finish their meals.
Fruit Stamp Activity for Preschoolers
This activity is a wonderful way to teach your child about different fruits.
What you need- Kitchen sponges 🧽, scissors, a marker, hot glue, paint, and construction paper.
- On a kitchen sponge, draw a banana 🍌, berries, grapes, pineapple, and apple.
- Cut your drawings with a pair of scissors ✂️ and paste them on different intact sponges to make a stamp of different fruits.
- Now, ask your child to paint each fruit. The pineapple should be painted yellow and green, the apple should be painted red, the grapes should be purple, the berries should be red and black, and the banana 🍌should be yellow with black specks.
- While the paint is still wet, stamp the sponge 🧽 on the construction paper.
Teach Counting With Fruits and Vegetables
If you have an overactive toddler who always wants to help you do chores around the house, then this exercise is a great way to keep them mentally stimulated. Give your child a basket full of fruits 🥝 and vegetables.
First, ask them to sort the fruits and vegetables into separate piles. Then, ask them to differentiate each food in the said piles and ask them to count the number of fruits and vegetables in the piles.
Healthy Pork Chops
My mother introduced my siblings and me to cooking when we were young kids because she said that it is the best time to teach children a valuable life skill.
I have done the same with my son, who is in elementary school, and this recipe is his favorite.
What you need- Thick boneless pork chops, kosher salt, ground pepper, panko breadcrumbs, Dijon mustard, eggs 🍳, broccoli, sweet potato, and all-purpose flour.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Clean the pork chops with a kitchen towel to remove the moisture.
- In a shallow dish, place some flour and mix some salt in it. Similarly, in another shallow dish, whisk an egg 🍳 with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Finally, fill a shallow dish with panko crumbs.
- First, dredge the pork chops in the flour. Follow it up with the egg and then the Panko crumbs. Make sure that all sides are evenly coated before placing the pork chop on the baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven for at least 18 to 20 minutes until the outside turns golden brown and crispy.
- To make the sweet potato, clean the sweet potato 🍠 and peel it. Cut the sweet potato into small cubes.
- Place the sweet potato cubes on a baking sheet and coat it with olive oil. Sprinkle salt, dried oregano, and ground black pepper and bake until soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
- Cut the broccoli 🥦into bite-sized pieces, coat it in olive, and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. You can cook it in an oven or an air dryer until the broccoli is crispy and golden brown.
Nutrition Crossword Puzzle
Whether my kids are learning something in school or I am teaching them something during their summer break, assigning them a crossword is a great way to test their knowledge and understanding of the topic. Since my son is in elementary school, I like to make the puzzle relatively easy.
To create a nutrition-based crossword puzzle, I tried to include clues on the appearance of different fruits and vegetables 🥦 and the benefits of eating said fruits and vegetables 🥦. You can customize the crossword to fit your child’s aptitude and knowledge base.
Teach Your Child How To Read A Nutrition Label
Teach your children how to read a nutrition label so that they can grow into adults who make healthy and balanced eating decisions.
As I have stated before, I do not believe in diet culture because I think it is harmful for a child and an adult to constantly obsess over their portion size or completely villainize a certain food item. Carbs, sugar, and fats are not inherently bad, and neither are processed foods.
However, only eating foods that are high in sugar, carbs, and fats is not healthy as well. There should be a balance. A nutrition label is meant to indicate the nutrients we are getting from a certain food.
Teaching your child how to correctly read this label can help them ascertain how many nutrients are in portion size and which nutrients are missing from the said food.
Alphabet Healthy Food Exercise
This activity is perfect for preschoolers who are learning the alphabet 🔤 and new words. On a piece of paper, write down the alphabet and ask your child to write the first fruit or vegetable that comes to their mind, starting with that letter.
This exercise is a perfect way to test your child’s memory, observational skills, spelling, and letter recognition skills.
Food Group Sorting Activity
Once your child has a good grasp on the food pyramid and is able to differentiate fruits from vegetables, animal products 🥩, dairy, and grains, then you can ask to participate in this activity.
On a couple of paper plates, write fruit, dairy, meat 🥩, vegetables, and grains. Place the plates on the kitchen island. Ask your child to match at least two items from the kitchen with the categories written on the paper plate.
Healthy Food Faces
Make mealtime more fun for your child with this activity.
What you need- Bread slices 🍞, hard-boiled eggs, salami, cherry tomatoes, shredded leaves, and cheese slices.
- Lay down all of these items on your dinner table and ask your child to use these items to make a face.
- The bread and the cheese 🧀 slice on top would be the canvas, and the remaining materials are used to make the hair, nose, eyes, and mouth.
Both of my children had a lot of fun making these edible faces.
Pro Tip- You can make these faces with other healthy food items like peanut butter, blueberries, and strawberries.
Most kids love chicken 🍗 tenders. Chicken tenders are high in protein and are an excellent addition to their meals when prepared in an air-fryer instead of a deep fryer.
What you need- Chicken 🍗 tenders, buttermilk, salt, black pepper, all-purpose flour, eggs, panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and a dipping sauce.
- I like to cut the chicken 🍗 tenders in half and place them in a ziplock bag after cleaning them.
- Marinate the chicken tenders in buttermilk, salt, and black pepper. Seal the ziplock bag and ask your child to massage the chicken tenders for a couple of minutes before placing the bag in the fridge for an hour at least.
- Meanwhile, on three separate small plates, place flour, whisked egg, and panko bread crumbs with grated parmesan cheese.
- With clean hands 🖐️, one tender at a time, dredge the chicken tenders in flour, then egg, and then the panko bread crumbs. Place the chicken 🍗 tenders in a single layer on the air fryer tray that has been coated with cooking spray.
- Cook the chicken tenders in the air fryer set at 380 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 8 to 10 minutes. Flip the chicken tenders halfway through the cooking process.
- Cook until the chicken tenders are golden brown and crispy. Serve while hot with a dip of your choice.
Pro tip- You can marinate the chicken tenders and keep them in the freezer for at least 24 to 48 hours.
Food Safety Science
It is never too late to teach your children that food when not properly handled, can be contaminated with germs, which can make us sick. Start by teaching your kids why washing hands 🖐️ before eating meals is extremely important.
Our hands are extremely busy throughout the day and can pick up germs 🦠 from different surfaces. We can easily ingest these germs when we eat food without washing our hands with soap.
I also showed my kids why it is important to store stuff properly, whether it is in the cupboard, refrigerator, or freezer. I did so by leaving a sealed container with some cheese (which is usually kept in the fridge) in the kitchen for two days.
We quickly noticed the growth of fungus. You can also do this activity with meat, bread 🍞, and fruits, which are usually kept in the fridge.
Create a Food Pyramid
After discussing the nutritional benefits of different foods, ask your child to make a food pyramid 🔺.
Start off by drawing a pyramid with different zones, with foods being listed in each zone on the basis of healthiest to least healthiest.
Once they have finished making the pyramid, discuss the foods they have mentioned in each zone and whether they belong in the zone or not.
Healthy Food Collage
Test your child’s ability to differentiate between nutritious and unhealthy foods.
What you need- Health magazines, scissors ✂️, glue sticks, and cardstock paper.
- Give your child a health magazine and ask them to cut out pictures of different food items from the magazine.
- Divide the construction paper into two halves- healthy and unhealthy.
- Paste the pictures of the cutouts under the respective categories.
Veggie and Fruit Artwork
This activity is a great way to introduce your toddler and preschooler to new vegetables and fruits.
Cut out templates of fruits 🍇 and vegetables, and let your children arrange them on a black backdrop as they please to make fun faces, monsters, or imaginary creatures.
Explore Healthy Cultural Foods
Explore the foods of different cultures by making a healthy meal from different cultures whenever possible. For a long time, healthy food was synonymous with bland and boring food.
However, upon exploring Mexican, Italian, Greek, and Indian cuisines, my opinion has changed drastically as these cuisines incorporate fresh fruits, raw vegetables 🥦, and nuts and seeds in delicious ways.
Make a Rainbow Food Platter
Give your child an empty plate and ask them to find one food item, each associated with the colors of the rainbow 🌈. Once they are done, discuss the benefits or cons of the food present on the platter.
I Spy Vegetables
I spy games are wonderful games for toddlers and preschoolers because it helps to develop their language and observational skills. To make this game, make a collage of different vegetables on your preferred editing software. Make sure to add multiple images of the vegetables.
On another sheet, make a list of all the different vegetables you used. Print out both of the sheets and hand them over to your child.
Ask your child to count the number of times a vegetable was included in the collage. You can put a time limit on this exercise when more than two children are playing the game.
ABC of Food
Test your child’s food knowledge by asking them to list different food items starting from each letter in the alphabet 🔤.
This activity is a great way to test your child’s spelling and food knowledge.
Healthy Smoothies for Kids
Every summer, my children and I devour several smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to incorporate fresh fruits, pre and probiotics, and dairy into your child’s diet.
What you need- Fresh fruit, nut butter, milk 🥛, yogurt, and ice.
- I like to use fruits that are in season for the smoothies 🧋 and cut the fruit into smaller pieces.
- Put the fruit in the blender along with a cup of plain yogurt, a tablespoon of any nut butter of your choice, and ice. Blend for a couple of minutes or until the mixture is smooth.
- Serve in a large glass while still cold.
Pro tip- You can even add chocolate syrup, vanilla extract, or other fun toppings to the smoothie as well.
Test Your Child’s Nutrition Knowledge
A healthy diet consists of many different types of foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, yogurt, cheese, bread, and grains.
Divide a piece of paper into four to five different sections. Ask your child to write the names of different desserts 🎂 under one section, different dairy products under another, animal products under the next, and finally, vegetables, fruits, and grains in the remaining sections.
Once they are done listing at least five food items under each section, you can ask your child to encircle all of the foods that they think are nutritious.
Blind Taste Test
Young children are notoriously picky eaters. To combat this issue, I like to host blind taste tests for my children. I give my children samples of “grownup foods,” which are usually cooked vegetables and fresh fruit.
I like to combine vegetables 🍅 and fruits with their favorite spreads or toppings to incentivize trying something healthy and nutritious.
The aim of this activity is to encourage my children to try foods that they think do not taste too good. I try to organize these blind taste tests quite often.
Vegetable and Fruit Structure Building
This was a fun little impromptu activity I came up with when my children were young.
To alleviate their boredom while I was cooking, I asked them to use the vegetable 🥕 and fruit scraps from the lunch I was preparing to make a structure. I let them use toothpicks to provide support for their structure.
Vegetable and Fruit Garden Sensory Bin
A vegetable and fruit garden sensory bin is a great way to introduce your toddler to new words, shapes, and colors.
Fill a shallow plastic container tray with black water beads. Place plastic vegetables 🥕 and fruits on top. Let your child play with the sensory bin while you try to teach them the names of the different fruits and vegetables.
Oven-Baked Fish and Chips
It is really important to teach children from a young age that no food is inherently bad, but sometimes the way they are prepared can make them unhealthy.
For instance, deep-fried fish 🐟 and chips are unhealthy, but oven-baked fish and chips are not. Both are made from the same ingredients.
What you need- Olive oil, russet potatoes, canola oil, cajun seasoning, cornflakes, all-purpose flour, salt, eggs, and cod or haddock.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and place the wire rack in the middle of the oven.
- To prepare the potatoes for the chips, clean and peel the potatoes. Cut them into thick or thin wedges, depending upon your preferences.
- Pat the wedges dry before tossing them in a large mixing bowl with olive oil and cajun seasoning.
- Place the potato wedges on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.
- Give the baking tray a shake every 10 minutes for an even bake.
- To make the coating for the fish 🐟, grind cornflakes in whichever way is comfortable for you.
- Prepare three dishes- one with flour, one with just egg whites, and one with the cornflakes.
- After cleaning the fish, dredge the fish first in flour, then in oil, and then in cornflakes before placing it on top of a coated baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven for at least 20 minutes or until the coating is golden brown and crispy.
- At the halfway point, turn the fish for an even bake. Make sure that the fish is cooked before serving.
- Serve the fish with the chips and a dip of your choice.
Rainbow Food Craft
Teach your children about the health benefits of different colored fruits and vegetables. This craft is a great way to show your kids how colorful and wonderful fruits and vegetables are.
What you need- Construction paper, cutouts of different fruits and vegetables, glue sticks, and markers.
- Draw a large rainbow 🌈on the construction paper.
- Give your child this construction paper, along with the cutout of different fruits and vegetables. Ask them to match the cutouts with the color and paste them in that section with a glue stick.
- As your children take part in this activity, talk to them about the benefits of each colored food.
- I started off with red fruits and vegetables and described to my kids that these foods promote heart health and support joint function.
Healthy Mac and Cheese
My son is in elementary school, and this was the first meal we made together.
What you need- Macaroni pasta, cauliflower, broccoli 🥦, zucchini, onion, bacon, milk, grated cheese, butter, and plain flour.
- Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
- Meanwhile, wash the vegetables and cut them into small pieces. I like to dice the vegetables 🥦 for my children; this way, they can mix them evenly with the macaroni. Steam the vegetables while the pasta is cooking.
- To make the sauce, in a saucepan heat up a couple of tablespoons of butter. Add the onions and bacon. Let the mixture cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Now, add a couple of tablespoons of plain flour. Let the flour cook for 2 to 3 minutes before gradually adding the milk. Stop adding the milk once the required consistency is achieved.
- Once the sauce starts to thicken, add most of the grated cheese to the pot. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the vegetables 🥦 to the sauce.
- Add the sauce to the pasta. Mix well before pouring the mixture onto a baking sheet.
- Now, sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top of the pasta and place the baking sheet in the oven until the cheese has melted and is golden brown and stringy.
As parents and grownups, we have been through a food journey, where we start off with being driven to eat fast food and sugary stuff and then figuring out that you cannot survive solely on a diet of pizza 🍕and burgers.
So, it is important for us to realize that our kids will be reluctant to eat their veggies and fruits from time to time.
In my opinion, our job as a parent should be to promote a positive relationship with food instead of villainizing a certain category of food altogether.
Hopefully, through these activities, you will be able to explain to your kids what nutrients are, where our body acquires nutrients, and how those nutrients promote healthy bodily functions. Please let us know in the comments down below if any of these activities were helpful to you.
I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for creating engaging and educational activities for children. I strongly understand child development and know how to create activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.