Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, and they provide our children with the vitamins and minerals their bodies need to grow and stay fit and well.
But, children can quickly fall into the habit of reaching for the foods they know and shunning anything new. This can limit the variety in their diet and stop them from trying fruits and vegetables they’d probably love!
Teaching preschoolers about fruits and vegetables is a fantastic way to give them the confidence and curiosity to try new varieties or taste familiar foods that have been prepared differently. So, how can you make learning about fruit and veg fun?
Play Games with Fruits and Vegetable Pictures
Photographs or pictures of fruits and vegetables are a great resource for teaching children about these foods. It’s easy to create and adapt games to make them suitable for different age groups, so you can bump up the difficulty as your child gets older or becomes familiar with the most common fruits and veggies.
Make two of each picture and play snap or spread the pictures out on the floor and let your child walk around and match up the pairs. As your child gets older, try placing the pictures face down and take it in turns to reveal two pictures at a time — find a pair and you get another go! You could also select a picture and keep it hidden from your child. Give them clues until they guess which fruit or vegetable you have. Again, you can make this game easier or harder. For very young preschoolers, only select very familiar fruits and keep the clues simple. As your child gets beyond the preschool stage, introduce more exotic fruits and vegetables or flip it around so that they have to ask questions — is it round? Is it yellow? — to work out which fruit or vegetable you have picked.
The possibilities are endless! If you are using drawings rather than photographs, make sure that they are accurate and that it's easy to tell what fruit or vegetable they depict.
Cook a Simple Meal
Preparing a simple meal or snack with your kids is a fantastic way for them to learn about fruits and vegetables. Involve your child in the whole process, including shopping for ingredients, washing and chopping them and assembling the meal.
Keep the conversation flowing by asking your child if they know the name of the different ingredients. Can they describe how they taste? Can they name another fruit or vegetable that starts with the same letter?
Mix things up by cooking outdoors when the sun shines. This will encourage you to try different ingredients and recipes, exposing your child to more experiences and learning opportunities.
Paint Stamping with Apples
There are lots of preschool apple crafts you can do, but we love apple stamping! Take a few apples and cut them into slices about ½ inch thick. Then use a fruit cutter or small cookie cutters to create different shapes from the apple slices. Pop your apple pieces on a plate and spear each one with a long party cocktail stick, et voila! You have a set of apple stamps to paint with!
Let your child choose a few different colours of paint, then put a blob of each one onto a paper plate. Cover anything you don’t want getting splattered with paint — including your little one! — and let them stamp away! This is a fantastic sensory experience and it will get your child familiar with apples or whatever alternative you choose to use.
Grow Your Own Fruits and Vegetables
What better way to learn about fruits and vegetables than to grow them at home from scratch? You don’t need a big vegetable patch as many salad vegetables grow beautifully in pots, and you can also grow herbs indoors.
Choose your fruits and vegetables based on the conditions and space available. Aubergines and tomatoes will not thrive without a lot of sunlight and pumpkins will need a lot of room to grow! There is plenty of information online about what will flourish in different environments.
Grow from seeds or start with young plants. Tomatoes are a great choice for kids as they are very easy to grow and most will love these sweet, juicy fruits when they are ripe enough to eat. Courgettes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed. Salad leaves and herbs can be grown inside without taking up much space. Check out our blog on how to Grow Your Own Strawberry Patch.
Make a Potato Head Character
Select a few large baking potatoes and lay out your art and craft supplies. You’ll need some googly eyes, felt tip pens and cocktails sticks (grownups will need to help with these). You can use anything you like to create a face. Try using chopped up vegetables. Create a “mouth” by slicing a cucumber into a crescent shape and add mushrooms for ears. A slice of pepper would make a great moustache!
You will need to help your children build their potato character by using cocktail sticks to attach the chopped vegetables or art supplies. Potatoes work well for this project, but you could also create fun characters out of aubergines and apples.
Make a Pretend Farmers’ Market
Buy a selection of fruits and vegetables and set up a stall. You can use boxes from the supermarket or any containers you have at home to display your wares. Write out some price labels and set up your child’s toy cash register.
Your little one will love shopping and selling in your pretend farmer’s market! And they will quickly learn the names of the different fruits and vegetables.
There are lots of fun activities for teaching fruits and vegetables to preschoolers, and many of them are simple, low-cost and only require a few household items. In addition to the above, you could also sing songs, colour pictures, read stories and play sorting games.
If you come up with any great ideas for fruits and vegetable activities, share them with us in our VIP Facebook group. We love hearing about your projects and seeing your photographs. And do tell us what your favourite Jamie Kay pieces are this season. Shop the latest collection online now.