Guidance for Nutrition Education in the Classroom Policy Number and Last Update (03.05.04e/04-2011)

Nutrition activities in the classrooms must conform to the Head Start Performance Standards, and to the IMSHSP Nutrition Policy. Food is never used or art or other activities. Further, food is not used for pattern-art products such as clown faces made from canned peach halves. Activities of this type trivialize and obscure the actual purpose of food, which is to sustain life.

Learning objectives for classroom activities are:

  • To encourage children to participate in a cooperative activity;
  • To provide children the opportunity to explore scientific concepts like cause and effect, chemical reaction, sequence of growth, observation, inference, prediction, etc.;
  • To permit children to use math skills such as measuring, parts and wholes, conservation, timing, classification, etc.;
  • To allow children to practice fine motor skills by cutting, stirring, pouring, etc.;
  • To help children gain independence and self-confidence;
  • To promote print-awareness through the use of written recipes and directions; and,
  • To foster children's appreciation of the earth as the provider of food.

These objectives can best be met by involving children in the food cycle from origin to consumption, allowing them to learn where food comes from, how, and why changes occur. Some examples of these activities are:

  • Planting, growing, harvesting, and cooking vegetables;
  • Grinding wheat berries and making bread from the flour;
  • Taking field trips to orchards to pick fruit, preparing and eating the fruit;
  • Taking field trips to farms, canneries, and plants to observe food harvest and production;
  • Making grocery lists, taking field trips to markets to purchase food, and cooking it;
  • Making butter, peanut butter, lemonade, etc.;
  • Making fruited gelatin from knuckle bones;
  • Reading stories, making recipe charts, language experience charts, and books to accompany the above.
  • Plan field trips to parent's work place (if related to food processing or harvesting);
  • Teachers or assistants take pictures of parents doing their jobs during the season and use them in group sharing sessions and display in the classroom.

Cooking activities should be offered weekly during the free-play portion of the day so that children can choose how long they wish to be involved. The recipes ingredients and methods must adhere to the Food Service Policy. A written and illustrated chart should be used for each recipe, and children should be able to complete most of the steps without help from the teacher. The final food product of the activity is considered an extra. Only enough for each child to have a taste should be made. It does not substitute for a meal or a snack.

Supplemental activities such as the AFood Groupies@ materials may be used at the teachers' discretion, but should not be considered as substitutes for those described above.