Welcome to the Connected Mom Sunday School. No matter what the coarse of your child's education, be it unschooling, homeschooling, or conventional schooling, The Connected Mom Sunday School aims to provide you with fun and easy activities for children of all ages and stages. (Have an idea for a Connected Mom Sunday School activity or theme? Either comment below or send your idea to connectedmom (dot) julian (at) gmail (dot) com.)
This week's theme is food! All of our activities this week center around a trip to the grocery store or farmer's market. They are meant to not only keep your child engaged and occupied during your shopping trip, but to encourage healthy habits from trying new things to list making and meal plannning, to being aware of where our food comes from and making sustainable food choices.
For toddlers it's best to keep games short and simple to hold their attention and reduce frustration. A game of 'what's that?' Is perfect for this.
As you walk through your produce section or farmer's market hold out items for your toddler to see, touch, smell (hold off on tasting until you've decided to purchase it, or if you're not sure about pesticide use) and ask 'what's this?'
For a perverbal or beginner start with easy foods that they have eaten before and will recognise. Then answer you're own question 'it's a banana!'. They will love hearing new and old words matched so clearly with objects they recognise. Keep in mind that if you sign with your child, this would be a fun time to introduce a few new ones!
Older toddlers love to show off their knowledge and will happily play along by answering your question! But be sure to keep introducing less common or recognisible foods to keep the game interesting. Have your toddler stretch his exploration muscles and ask YOU 'what's this'. Perhaps he'll show interest in foods you never thought he'd like you to cook!
Giving your child knowledge of the great variety of healthy foods out there is a gift, it may seem like a silly game now, but this knowledge combined with your child's natural curiosity and sense of adventure will open up a whole world of good health and fun. Preschool:
To ensure that your child is not only eating enough fruits and vegetables every day, but also getting a wide variety of nutrients, it helps to think of your daily diet as a rainbow. There are 6 colours in the food rainbow: Yellow, orange, red, green, blue and purple, all of which carry different antioxidants, vitamines and minerals.
Using an old cereal or tissue box (It's good to reuse and recycle!) cut a circle of cardboard. With a ruler and pencil, draw a line across the center of your circle dividing it into two sections. Turn it 90 degrees and draw another line to make four sections, then once more to make 6! kind of like how you would cut a pie.
Have your crafty preschooler colour in each section, one for every colour of the food rainbow!
Next you will have to choose a spinner. Feel free to 'upcycle' one from an old board game like Twister, but any craft store will carry them, or you could fashion one from a small crayon or pencil tied to a string. Fasten your spinner of choice to the center of your circle so that when you spin the point falls on one of the 6 colours.
Now take it for a spin! In the produce section of your super market, or at your local farmer's market, have your child spin the pointer, if it lands on green have him choose a food that is green, if it lands of red have him choose a food that is red... take turns spinning! Not only will your cart fill up with all the colours of the rainbow, but this excersise may help a fussy eater open up to trying new foods.
(If you'd like more information on making sure your child is eating a rainbow every day, check out Connected Mom Kayce's review of the Today I Ate A Rainbow Kit!)
The children I know around the ages of 5-10 love to help, but they love even more to be 'the boss'. Start at home by having your child write down (or draw, depending on writing level) the items from your shopping list in her own list book or paper. Don`t dictate your list to her, but rather have her create it by asking questions. `What would you like to eat this week?``what do we need to make that?`. She may not know everything that goes into her favourite meal, but you`d be surprised what her palet picks up. Leading her through this will make meal planning and mindful shopping second nature to her, skills that are vital to a healthy diet!
When you get to the store have your child read off the items on her list one by one, and check them off. For older children you can add to the fun by having them read price stickers, or weigh your produce. This will not only stretch their reading and math muscles, but continue to build good shopping habits.
(Remember to keep your own master list just in case, but if your child is sensitive you may want to keep your back up list on the sly) Older Child 10+:
Print out a list of foods available in your imediate area (within about 100 miles) and a simple map of the world and have your child mark off the countries your food comes from as you shop. Many grocery stores have this information printed right on the price sign under the name of the product.
If you're shopping at the farmer's market where everything is local that's awesome! Have your child write down everything that's available locally and then take them on a comparison shop to the supermarket. You know best how your child learns, if you think they would benefit from creating a graph or chart to compare their findings then chart away! Some children may prefer just looking at the map they made, or organising their findings in their own creative way.
Notice how many foods available locally are still imported from far away places? Or maybe you notice a lack of diversity in your local agriculture? Why do you think that is? This is a great way to start a conversation with your child about making sustainable food choices. Just remember that these conversations are not meant to be lectures, make sure to listen to what conclusions your child draws on his or her own. You may be surprised what kind of revolutionary ideas are born from a kid`s point of view!