Taste at Snack Time With 2-year-olds
Try one new food at a time, and serve it with a familiar food during your regular snack time. Expect the tasting experience to be messy and plan accordingly for cleanup.

Plan a Small-group Experience With 3-year-olds

Sit around a table with six to eight children at a time. Place children who are more open to trying new foods next to more reluctant tasters. Offer three items to taste, such as three breads, tasting each type in turn. Pass around the first sample. Let children touch, smell, and look at their pieces until everyone is ready to taste. Then announce, "Let's taste this together." Explain that the proper way to taste a food is to put the entire piece in their mouth and chew it up. When everyone has swallowed, talk about how the food felt (such as soft) and how it tasted (such as salty or sweet). Model positive responses such as, "This tastes good." Focus on the tasting process and on finding words to describe what foods taste like.

General Reminders

Check children's records for food allergies and avoid those foods.

Always start by having children wash their hands.

Allow enough time so that taste testing is unhurried.

Cut up food into bite-size pieces and let children serve themselves.

Taste along with the children. Be a positive role model.

Let children know in advance what kind of behavior you expect.

Chart Favorite Foods With 4-year-olds
You can expand the group size to up to 16 children and taste up to five items at a time. Follow the same basic process as for 3-year-olds. When all items have been tasted, graph the group's favorites on a chart. Label the top row with the foods, such as rye, pumpernickel, whole-wheat, oat, and five-grain bread. Then give each child a piece of paper labeled with her name. Children take turns placing their name under the food item they like best. Discuss the graph when it's completed or during group time.

Let 5- and 6-year-olds Be Kitchen Helpers

Invite older children to help prepare the foods for tasting. For example, they can wash fruits and vegetables. They can use plastic knives to cut up soft foods like bread into bite-size pieces. Use the same tasting procedure and activities as for threes and fours.

All Ages: When Children Don't Like a Food
Explain that it's okay not to like some foods. Praise children for tasting a food, but don't make a fuss if they won't try it. Acknowledge desirable behaviors and ignore undesirable ones. Communicate to children that you think they can handle a new tasting situation. In time, they will meet that expectation.

"Celebrate Healthy Eating!" Family Send-Homes

Explain why whole-grain foods are recommended for a healthful diet and offers suggestions for substituting whole-grain foods for processed ones.

Discuss the importance of eating breakfast daily and offer guidelines for making healthful breakfast choices.

Family Breakfast on the Go - Share the Kid-Friendly Recipes. There are simple recipes for weekday and weekend morning meals.

Components With Family Extensions

Here are tips on sharing other ideas with families:

Using the Breakfast! poster, check for suggestions on introducing the poster to family members visiting at school.

Post the results of group taste-testing of different types of grains where families can see them and get ideas for grain foods to try at home. Display the Whole-Grain Toasty Shape Snacks where families can take note of this simple idea for a healthful snack.

Check out the Story Time page - recommend these books with a multicultural focus to families.

Breakfast is for Going and Growing! Once you've read and discussed as a group the simple story about the benefits of eating a healthful breakfast, invite children to take their copies home to share with their families.

Host a "Grains Are Great" Family Meal
Plan a group meal at school and ask each child's family to provide a bread, cereal, pasta, or rice dish. It might be a recipe that reflects the family's culture or is a family favorite. Encourage families to use whole-grain foods, such as brown rice instead of white rice, for added nutrients. Make this a meal just for the children, or plan it as an evening event for families to attend.

Consider asking families to provide the recipe for the dish they share. Post the recipes on a bulletin board and place paper and pencils nearby. Invite families to copy down recipes they would like to try.

You can also compile the recipes into a class book. Invite children to add pages featuring their drawings of the group meal and dictated comments, such as descriptions of how the different foods tasted. Display the finished book where both children and visiting family members can enjoy it.

Talk About It

Display the Breakfast! poster at children's eye level, then gather

 

your group to talk about what they see. Give children time to randomly describe the images or point to what interests them. Confirm that the poster shows drawings of children eating and photographs of different foods.

Invite children to name the foods that each child (in the poster) is eating. Guide children in identifying each meal as breakfast. Let volunteers name their favorite breakfast foods from among those they see and others that are not on the poster. Talk about the variety of foods the children are eating. Point out that different families eat different breakfast foods. [For a nonfiction book with photographs and information about breakfast foods and customs around the world, look for Good Morning, Let's Eat! by Karin Luisa Badt (Children's Press, 1994).]

Read the poster title: Start Each Day the Healthy Way With Breakfast! Invite children to share their ideas of what that statement means. Prompt with questions, such as: Why is breakfast good for our bodies? Does breakfast give us energy? What do we need energy to do? Help children conclude that breakfast helps give them energy to think, play, and learn.

Ask children to look again at the foods the boys and girls in the pictures are eating. Who is eating cereal? Who is eating bread? Then focus on the photographs of foods on the left and right. Which look like types of cereal? Which look like kinds of breads? Which are foods children might eat for breakfast? Which are foods they might eat for lunch, dinner, or snack?

Guide children in naming each food. Explain that all belong to a special group of foods that children will learn more about. Invite them to share their favorite kinds of bread, cereal, pasta, and rice.

What's That Shape?

Use the poster's border images for an exercise on recognizing shapes.

 

Point to the different foods and invite children to name their shapes. You might also provide paper cutouts of circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, and ovals. Children can take turns matching a paper shape to a food of the same shape.

Expand the focus on foods with distinctive shapes. At snack and other meals, invite children to name the shapes they see in the foods they eat.

What's That Grain?

When you introduce Lots of Foods Come From Grains! - return to the border images and draw attention to the grain key in each square. Explain that each food is made from a kind of grain. Guide children in telling which foods come from wheat, rye, oats, rice, and corn.

Sharing the Poster With Families

Display the Breakfast! poster where families can take note of its important message about breakfast and get ideas for morning menus from the variety, and especially the whole-grain foods, shown. Encourage families to continue the shape search by looking for breads, cereals, pasta, and rice products of different shapes as they shop together in the supermarket and eat together at home.

Come to the Happy Morning Café
Invite children to set up a breakfast restaurant in the dramatic-play area. They can help make menus using photographs of whole-grain foods and other healthful choices from home and cooking magazines. (Use the foods on the poster as ideas for menu choices. Be sure there are foods that reflect the cultures in your group.) Create meals to serve by pasting pictures of whole-grain foods, eggs, and so on, onto plain paper plates.

Place one or two small tables and chairs in the area. Invite children to help make a sign featuring the restaurant name (such as the Happy Morning Café or a name they prefer). Children can take turns being customers ordering breakfast and waiters who take their orders and serve them.

As you observe their play, note the choices children make. Now and then, ask "customers" about their breakfast choices or point out that a whole-grain food, like whole-wheat toast, offers extra nutrients for extra goodness.

My Favorite Breakfast
Invite children to use art materials to show their favorite breakfast. Let children approach this project in the way they choose. A child might create a painting or drawing, cut out pictures of foods to paste on a large sheet of paper, or use clay to make the form of a favorite food. Ask each to tell something about the creation, such as what foods are depicted or what the child likes breakfast. Write down the comments as a caption for the work.

Invite volunteers to describe their creations, and reinforce the importance of starting the day with foods that will give children energy to work and play. Then set up a Breakfast Gallery where children can display their art and descriptions. Encourage families to visit the gallery.

Breakfast Is for Going and Growing!
Give each child a copy of the coloring book - Breakfast is for Going and Growing! Help each put it together as a story. Read the words and talk about the pictures. The story identifies the many activities that breakfast gives children (and adults) the energy to do, and the long-term benefits of healthful breakfasts in helping children grow. Invite them to color the pages and take the books home to share with their families.

Lots of Foods Come From Grains!

Display Lots of Foods Come From Grains! to introduce the concept that many foods children eat - specifically breads, cereals, pasta, and rice - come from plants called grains. Talk about the pictures on the card. Most children will recognize corn. For the others, encourage them to describe what they see. Then identify the pictures as wheat, rye, oats, rice, and corn. (Note that these are not the only grains. Another is barley.)

Read the captions. Invite children to name foods that come from each grain. Provide examples of each grain, if possible, and its processed form. For example, have samples of whole-wheat and rye flour, oatmeal, brown rice, and cornmeal or grits. Listen for children's questions. Use the resource that follow to help explain how grains are harvested and processed, including being made into flour or meal, and the different foods that come from grains.

A Whole Grain a Day…

Try a different category of grain foods at snack time or as a special tasting activity for each of several days (or on the timetable you choose). Check the bulleted list below for suggestions.

Crackers - Whole wheat, rye, multigrain

Breads - Whole wheat, rye, multigrain

Dry cereals - (low sugar) Whole grain, rice, corn, oats

Muffins - Corn, oat, bran



Whole-Grain Toasty Shape Snacks
Here's an activity that blends this section's focus on whole-grain foods and shapes. Provide whole-grain breads, such as whole wheat, rye, multigrain, and oat bread, to encourage children to try these more nutritious varieties.

Review the five pictures on the Whole-Grain Toasty Shape Snacks. Explain that each shows a step in making a snack for children and one they can share with feathered friends, too.

Set up the toaster. Set out the slices of bread, spreads, plastic knives, cookie cutters, and plates and napkins.

Have children wash their hands. Then guide children as they take turns making their own snack. Carefully supervise use of the toaster. Let children choose a cookie cutter to give their toast snack a specific shape. (Ask each child to name the shape.) Assist children as needed in adding a spread of their choice on the toast shape. (If any children in your group are allergic to peanuts, eliminate peanut butter as an option for everyone.) Finally, provide a container where children can deposit the toast crusts for the birds.

Repeat this snack with different types of bread and choices of spreads. Offer cookie cutters to match different seasons and holidays.