Sunday, February 1, 2009

Food Group Placemats

Here's a fun activity for tots and preschoolers--food group placemats. My nephew came over to do this one with us, and I think they turned out so cute! Initially I thought that the kids would enjoy doing this more than they did, but it wasn't to be. They liked it, but I thought they wouldbe more excited about all the foods. However, we've been using them as placemats ever since, and THAT they do enjoy!
This one takes a little planning, but nothing too exerting. I collected the grocery mailers and other coupons from our junk mail for a couple weeks, cutting out different or interesting pictures of foods over time and storing them in a bin. I also cut out glasses and silverware from an IKEA catalog, and little squares from checked paper to use for napkins. I also cut out a circle from construction paper for the plate.

The morning we planned to do this project, I had my 3 year old sort the food items into their food groups. He did surprisingly well, and even dumped them out after sorting them once and sorted them again! I don't think he realized he was learning! ;) There's no real reason to sort the food if your toddler is too little to do that. I just thought it'd be a fun activity for my preschooler.

Following that, I gathered my materials--glue stick, construction paper and contact paper (and of course the food cut outs). We glued the plate onto the construction paper first, then started adding our foods, silverware, glasses and napkins. When they were finished, I put contact paper on both sides to protect it from moisture. We then went through and named all the foods on the placemats. The kids brought out the kitchen toys and got to work having an impromptu picnic in our living room. At lunch time, we used them for our real foods, and have been using them since.
This is a great activity to work on verbal skills with your kids. It's also interesting to see what foods they choose. You can ask them to name the foods or to tell you why they picked what they picked. You can extend it to talking about sweet and salty foods, the food groups, etc. And since it can become a permanent fixture at your dinner table, the learning can extend much longer than the 15 mintues it takes to put the mats together. I hope you like this one!

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