After talking about the food pyramid, my kids were on a mission to make sure they got all of their food groups in their lunch.
***Counting — This is great for the young child just learning how to count. This also brings in to play the very important skill of one-to-one correspondance. When we ask, “Hey Susie — how many hot dog pieces do you have?” Susie may be able to count to ten in rote counting, but it is a further skill to count each object and get the correct number. (This is why so many kids first start counting objects and count them incorrectly, even though they know how to count aloud. It’s just a higher skill.)
***Where does food come from? — Lunch can be the perfect time to talk about where food comes from. Many city kids, like the kids I used to teach in our most urban area where I live, would answer that food comes from a store. They had no concept about food being grown. (Bonus to you if your kids not only know where food comes from, but they’re eating food that they helped to grow!)
***Different Cultures — Lunch gives you an opportunity to further your geography studies. Studying the Olympics this week? Why not have a Chinese dish for lunch! (And, if you absolutely think you can’t make that, then there is always take out! We actually ate at a Chinese buffet place not once, but twice while we were studying the Olympics!) Studying Mexico? Why not some Mexican food?
This, of course, isn’t limited to studying other countries. You can find out about crops and foods native to certain states or regions if you’re studying within your own country.
***Patterns — You can set up the patterns for them, and ask them to recognize the pattern (and what might come next), or you can ask them to try to make their own pattern. I had some fun with dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets, and the kids all loved it. (I even added in grapes after I took the picture, as a “gravel” road that the dinosaurs were walking on!)
***Cook with Books — No, I’m not talking about cookbooks. I’m talking about noticing if the books you are reading talk about foods. If they do, try to incorporate the idea into one of your lunches. Reading Green Eggs and Ham? Then make them one day for lunch! Stone Soup, Growing Vegetable Soup, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Young Cam Jansen and the Pizza Shop Mystery…you get the idea and the options are endless!
***Cook with Books — Okay, NOW I mean cookbooks. These are great way to have your child help with food preparation. Ask them to read directions, make measurements, and other preparations. My kids were amazed, the other day, to have cracked eggs for the first time ever. They have tons of great cookbooks that are written specifically for kids. Because my kids are all third grade and younger, I like that the text in these is usually easier to read/understand, there are typically pictures, recipes tend to be on the easier side, and final dishes are usually kid friendly.
***Lunch Ideas Don’t Think Up Themselves — I know that my kids don’t consider that I have to think of what we are eating each day, for each meal. Having them sit down to plan a well balanced lunch is a great exercise for them in science and household management.
Need a great lunch resource with tons of tips, tricks and ideas? Check out this site! It *is* a site for buying lunch boxes (American style bento boxes), but they have so many great topics to click on!
Angie can be found writing at Many Little Blessings when she isn’t sitting at her house thinking, “Seriously — how many meals a day do these kids need to eat? Do I really have to make them all?”
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