Using All Kinds of Fruits and Vegetables
Put up the colorful poster - All Kinds of Fruits and Vegetables - at children's eye level and let your investigations into new and familiar fruits and vegetables begin. You can use the poster in multiple ways to reinforce the key message that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is important for good health. And discovering fruits and vegetables of different sizes, shapes, and colors is fun!

Talk About It

Display the poster for a few days to give children time to look at it on their own.

Gather the group around the poster to talk about what they see. Make this a wide-ranging discussion, drawing on children's own experiences and following their lead. Invite children to name the fruits and vegetables they recognize. Point to each fruit or vegetable as it's named and discuss its appearance. Encourage children to describe its features, such as crunchiness or sweet taste.

Discuss how a fruit or a vegetable is served, such as in a salad. Talk about different ways that some fruits and vegetables are eaten, such as fresh, as juice, as sauce, or in pies.

Focus on fruits and vegetables that are new to children and identify them. For example, if papaya is unfamiliar, have one on hand. Cut it open to see the seeds inside. Offer small, bite-size pieces of papaya so that children who want to can try it. Repeat with other new fruits and vegetables.

Sort by Size... and More

Provide cutouts of fruits and vegetables, or use picture cards. Invite children to


take turns adding big, medium-size, and small fruits and vegetables to the poster. Or have children compare actual fruits and vegetables or realistic plastic models for size. As they sort, talk about portion sizes. Would one pea feed your group? One strawberry? How about one watermelon? Point out to children that we get more of some fruits and vegetables on our plates because they are smaller.

Invite children to think of other ways to sort fruits and vegetables. Possibilities are by color, shape, and texture (loud/crunchy or quiet/soft).

Use the poster's alphabet border to reinforce beginning letter and sound skills. Invite children to name as many fruits and vegetables as they can that begin with A (asparagus, avocado, apple), and so on through the alphabet. You might write their lists on experience-chart paper, illustrate each word, and display around the room.

Using "Where Do Fruits and Vegetables Grow?"
As children wait eagerly for their salad fixings to sprout, use the "Where Do Fruits and Vegetables Grow?" PDF to introduce them to the different ways that fruits and vegetables grow. Invite children to name what they see in the five pictures on the card: carrots under the ground (just like their radishes), lettuce on the ground (like the lettuce they're growing), zucchini squash on a vine, blueberries on a bush, and papaya on a tree. Encourage children to share their own experiences with these fruits and vegetables or others growing in or under the ground and on vines, bushes, and trees. Discuss what's similar about how all these plants grow. (They all need soil, water, air, and sunshine.) Using picture cards or the poster images, talk about where children think other specific fruits and vegetables grow.

Using "Build a Butterfly Salad"
Children are often more willing to try foods they've had a hand in making, so plan cooking experiences using fruits and vegetables. For a spring salad that butterfly enthusiasts are sure to enjoy, introduce the "Build a Butterfly Salad" PDF. Review the five pictures with children and point out that each explains a step in creating their edible butterfly.

To prepare, first ask children to wash their hands. They can help wash the fresh vegetables (use lettuce from your own garden, if possible). An adult will need to cut the celery into sticks for the insect body and red peppers into strips for antennae. Use pineapple canned in its own juices. Set out the raisins and low-fat yogurt, and you're ready to start.

Substitute any fruits and vegetables children prefer. Just as there are different kinds of butterflies, children can try many versions of butterfly salad. Enlist their help in thinking of alternatives. For example, an all-fruit butterfly might be made with cottage cheese as the base, slices of kiwi arranged to look like wings, a row of blueberries to form the body, and two apple slices for antennae.

Dramatic Play
Restaurant and supermarket themes offer natural opportunities to include nutrition concepts in play. Suggest that children set up a Fruit and Vegetable Cafe. Invite them to write a menu featuring fruits and veggies of their choice. Then children can take turns being customers and servers. A supermarket can be stocked with empty canned fruits and vegetables donated from home, as well as cutouts of other foods. (Be sure all cans are washed; check for rough edges and cover with heavy tape.)

Science Center
Growing vegetables in season introduces children to how these foods grow and change from seeds to become the foods we eat. In the process, children learn what all plants need to grow. "We Can Grow a Salad!" (page 4 on the back of the poster) provides ideas for planting leaf lettuce and radishes. Investigate other quick-growing vegetables for a classroom garden. Use the Discovery Card "Where Do Fruits and Vegetables Grow?" to explore how foods grow under and on the soil and on vines, bushes, and trees.

Math Center
Introduce fruit and vegetable picture cards to your math center for matching, sorting, and counting activities.

Art Center
Encourage young artists to draw and paint fruits and vegetables or to make a collage of pictures. The coloring book - "Eat a Rainbow" can be the focus of a teacher-directed art activity. The story invites children to taste a rainbow of fruits and vegetables-red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. But first they need to color in the fruits and veggies and create this edible rainbow. Download or make a copy of the book for each child. Then work with children in giving each fruit or vegetable its real-life color.

Cooking Center
This is an ideal place for good nutrition to begin! Involve children in cooking experiences using fruits and vegetables as main ingredients. For a simple salad each child can make, use the "Build a Butterfly Salad" PDF in your center.

Group Time
Display the poster - All Kinds of Fruits and Vegetables - for discussions of all kinds of fruits and vegetables.

Share Serving and Portion Guidelines With Families
Determining what children should eat and how much can be a challenge for some families. Please click to view the USDA MYPlate with serving-size guidelines. This PDF is designed for your use and for parents too. Share it with families to help them plan healthful meals and keep sweets and high-fat foods in check. Portion size can be a particular concern, so reassure families that it is normal for a young child's appetite to vary greatly from day to day. The best rule of thumb: Start with a small portion and let children ask for more!

Involve Families in Special Meals and Cooking Experiences at School
Inviting families to share a meal that features fruits and vegetables along with a variety of other foods is a great way to model healthful cooking and eating. Seeing their children eat new or unusual foods may spur parents to be more adventurous in their own kitchens. And encourage families to share their own favorite fruit and veggie recipes for children to try in your cooking center or for you to serve for lunch or snack. Help families feel part of a cooperative effort to establish healthful eating habits in young children.