Teaching Preschoolers Wise Food Choices With the Food Plate
- Poster board
- Safety Scissors
- Food circulars
For this preschool lesson plan on the food plate, create a bulletin board displaying the new USDA 'MyPlate' by cutting out a large circle to form the plate and a smaller circle to represent a glass (dairy) from the poster board. Divide the plate into four triangular segments. Note that on the left side of the plate, 'vegetables' should be slightly larger and fruits should be slightly smaller than the equally sized grains and proteins on the right. Glue one easily recognizable food on each triangle, such as a loaf of bread, an apple, or a carrot.
Next, draw a blank version of the food plate on a piece of paper with a smaller circle representing dairy on the upper right. Fill up as much of the paper as possible. Make enough copies of the drawing so that each child can have one.
Hold up an apple and a lollipop, and ask your preschoolers to compare the two of them (both are sweet, different colors, the apple is juicier, the apple is healthier). Make sure they comment on the fact that the apple is healthier than the lollipop, and ask them to explain why.
Begin this lesson plan by introducing the bulletin board display. Explain that it is important for us to eat many different types of foods to stay healthy. Some foods keep our muscles strong, some foods are good for our teeth or eyes, and some foods are important to keep our bones healthy. Show them the examples glued to each part of the plate and discuss what makes each food group unique. Then, ask them to list other foods that they think would go in each group.
Go through each food group, discussing how they can make sure to keep themselves healthy by eating that food group. For example, you might talk about how whole grains are healthier than white grains, orange and green vegetables are an important part of your diet, fruits are a healthier choice than fruit juices, skim milk is healthier than whole, and meat or poultry is healthier when you cut off the fat. Also discuss sugars (like the lollipop) and fats and ask them where they fit on the plate? This introduces the topic of moderation.
Give out food circulars to each student, and hand out one copy of the blank food plate to each student. Encourage children to cut out foods and glue them to the correct section of the plate.
At lunch time or snack time, make sure to discuss with your preschoolers which food groups they are eating and how they would or would not fit on their plate. The objective of this lesson plan is to help your students apply what they have learned to their own lives, and keep them cognizant of the importance of a varied diet.