Nutrition and sleep assignments for kids​

It is important to give information and experiences for children of healthy nutrition. It is a key factor for growth and well-being, including improving concentration skills, vision and memory.

Information about healthy nutrition for 1-3 year old children

The Plate model for healthy eating by crafting

Instructions for creating your own healthy eating plate model:

  • There is pre-drawn on a paper a plate, a fork, a knife and a glass.
  • A child glues pictures of food on the paper according to healthy eating plate model. (Pictures can be cut out for example from grocery shop adverts or magazines.)
  • After crafting, children’s own models will be put on a wall next to the ”official” healthy eating plate model.

Tasting new flavours

Getting used to new flavours requires many tasting times. Tasting can be made fun by guessing which vegetable you are tasting.
Instructions for tasting:

  • Tasting event will be organised during the snack time.
  • Before tasting, it is important to consider children’s possible food allergies
  • Flavours chosen to be tasted should be both familiar and unfamiliar
  • There is a form with pictures of all the chosen vegetables. After tasting, the child places a sticker on the form under their chosen vegetable picture.
  • A summary can be made on a day care wall for example of the three most popular flavours in each group of children. 

Information about healthy nutrition for 4-6 year old children

The Plate model

The Plate model for healthy eating   should be first taught to children by playing, reading, crafting or any other appropriate way. For example, learning by drawing gives a child an understanding of the healthy eating plate model and how you should fill your plate with different food groups.

Learning together helps children to make their own choices and better understand the subject.

Instructions:

  • There will be a discussion with the children about which kinds of food you can put in different parts of the plate model.
  • The children will be given a piece of paper, where is a pre-drawn plate, fork, knife and glass.
  • The plate will be divided different segments according to healthy eating plate model.
  • Children will draw their own meal in the plate model’s segments.
  • Drawings will be put on the wall.

The Food pyramid

With the help of the food pyramid children will get used to a healthy diet and will learn how to choose different food groups.
More information about thhe ”Baltic Sea” food pyramid (in finnish): http://www.diabetes.fi/ruokakolmio

By using the food pyramid, the children will get an overall picture of a healthy diet. The bottom layer of the pyramid is based on vegetables, the middle layer is formed of dairy, grain and protein products and edible fats. The seldom eaten delicacies form the top of the pyramid, which is the minor part of the diet.

With the help of the food pyramid children will learn to think how they can form their daily diet of different dishes according the plate model for different days.

Which food will you choose?

In this task you will think together with the children what makes the food healthy or unhealthy. It will give a good model for children when considering different choices at home with their parents.

Instructions:

  • You will need pictures of different dishes, main dishes, snacks, desserts and drinks.
  • You will show two of the pictures at the same time for children and ask which one represents the healthy choice.
  • In some of the cases, one choice is clearly healthier than the other, for example a hamburger vs meat soup. In more difficult cases, the children will have to think harder which one they choose, because both of the choices have something healthy in them, for example blueberry pie vs fruit.
  • After the choice you will discuss together why the other choice is healthier and if you can find healthy elements also of the less healthy choice.

Information about sleep for 1-3 year olds

Aim of this section is to inform children and families about sleep-related issues, such as the need for sleep and how to keep track of it, as well as any disadvantages caused by the lack of sleep. We will also explore dream through experiences, discussion, painting, narration and poetry.

Sleep and nutrition monitoring passport

To give parents and day care employees a full perception of children’s sleeping and eating habits, nutrition and sleep monitoring passport can be implemented.
Implementation:

  • Information is gathered on a passport for one week.
  • Parents make notes on their own passport at home, employees at the day care use another one.
  • What food the child ate, the amount and how he/she liked it should be marked on the passport. Also, the amount of sleep during both day and night should be marked, as well as alertness of the child before and after sleep.
  • Passports also have open questions regarding eating and sleeping habits of the family and child.
  • All information will be gathered together after a week. Passports will be returned to the families.
  • Monitoring gives a good base for common educational discussions in which parents and day care can contemplate solutions to possible questions raised regarding sleep and nutrition.

Information about sleep

You can use a poem to tell small children about sleep. In the project, the poem Nukkumatin kutsu from book Sydänrumpu by Sydänliitto was used, but you can find sleep-related poems in English as well. After exploring the poem, you talk together about sleeping.

Sydänrumpu-book by Sydänliitto is used partly to support this section.

  •  The adult recites the poem at a slow pace, the children repeat verses with another adult. After this you can learn the poem by clapping hands or knees or using rhythm players.
  • A doll that looks like Sandman (e.g. Harlequin) can be used as prop. You can ask children what Sandman is doing, how he looks, etc.
  • Finally, the Sandman can sprinkle sleeping dust, and children pretend to fall asleep.

Dream paintings

Dreams can be contemplated by painting pictures of interesting, nice dreams.
Instruction for executing dream paintings:

  • When painting dream paintings, play relaxing background music. A Sandman doll can steer children to dream subject with a Sandman poem.
  • Children can use brushes and finger paint to paint a picture of a nice dream on paper taped to a board. You can use dream-like colour shades.
  • You can add a story about the child´s dream or a picture of sleeping child to the finished painting.
  • Paintings will be displayed where parents can see them too.

Information about sleep for 4-6 year olds

The aim of this section is to inform children and families about sleep-related issues, such as need for sleep and how to keep track of it, as well as disadvantages caused by the lack of sleep. We will also explore dream through experiences, discussion, painting, narration and poetry.

Sleep and nutrition monitoring passport

To give parents and day care employees a full perception of children’s sleeping and eating habits, a nutrition and sleep monitoring passport can be implemented.

Implementation:

  • Information is gathered on a passport for one week.
  • Parents make notes on their own passport at home. The employees at the day care have another one.
  • Which food a child ate, the amount and how he/she liked it should be marked on the passport. Also the amount of sleep during both night and day should be marked, as well as alertness of child before and after sleep.
  • Passports also have open questions regarding eating and sleeping habits of the family and child.
  • All information will be gathered together after the week. Passports will be returned to families.

Monitoring gives a good base for common education discussions, in which parents and day care can together contemplate solutions to possible questions raised regarding sleep and nutrition.

Information about sleep

Implementation of sleep information differs slightly between 4-5 year olds and pre-schoolers. You can tune 4-5 year olds in to subject by discussing about evening routines and how much children of their age need sleep. At the same time, you can discuss the child’s own evening routines, sleep buddies and dreams they have seen. In a group for 5-6 year olds you can discuss how a lack of sleep affects brain function and human behaviour, and why sleep is needed. Children can paint dream paintings after discussions.

Dream paintings

Dreams can be contemplated by painting pictures of interesting, nice dreams.
Instruction of executing dream paintings:

  • Play relaxing music.
  • Children use watercolours. Wet paper first to achieve dream-like atmosphere.
  • After painting, children tell about the dream they painted, and a description will be added to painting.
  • Paintings will be displayed where parents can see them.

Designing and sewing a sleep buddy

The idea is to bring a child’s own, small pyjama or parents’ pyjama, and make a day care sleep buddy out of it. This way something familiar and safe from home can be transferred to day care, to bring good feeling to the daytime sleep.

Implementation:

  • Pre-schoolers can design sleep buddies themselves, and 4-5 year olds can pick their favourite from prepared patterns.
  • Children bring old pyjamas from home to be used as material. Adults will cut the needed pieces.
  • Adults sew sleep buddies by hand and sewing machine with the children.
  • Children will participate by filling and sewing eyes for the sleep buddies etc. according to their skills.
  • Sleep buddies will be introduced to parents for example at a parents evening.

Information about sleep and nutrition for parents

The path of good sleep and nutrition

The path of good sleep and nutrition can be introduced for parents when they pick up their kids from day care. Along the path, they consider the matters which are involved with healthy diet and good night sleep.

Implementation:

  • You can collect information of healthy nutrition and sleep in certain quiet space at day care where parents can research the material.
  • You can ask a local nurse or nurse students to assist in the event and conversations.
  •  All the children’s art work of nutrition and sleep are put up in a room. (the healthy eating plate models, paintings of dreams and sleep buddies)
  • Children can perform for parents songs for ex. lullaby with their sleep buddy

Activity afternoon

Sleep and nutrition theme can be extended as a family activity afternoon.

The family activity afternoon consists of four action points for the families. Painokas tool box (in finnish) can be used as material. You can order Painokas tool box from www.painokas.fi.

Action points:

  1. The healthy eating plate model
    Families can try different options of gathering a meal according to the plate model. They can find help from food cards of Painokas-box.
  2. Family food habit triangle
    Families can survey their food habits by filling out a family food habit triangle from Painokas-toolbox (Painokas, 2006-2008).
  3. Sleep-quiz
    Families will take a sleep-quiz and think about the amount and need of sleep and disadvantages caused by the lack of sleep.
  4. Relaxing point
    Families will learn how to relax via creating a relaxing exercise to each other, for example using a fairy-tale.

Families go through action points in their own pace. There will be a theme orientated leader in each action point with whom families can discuss about the subjects.

Parents’ evening

Nutrition and sleep theme can also be discussed at a parents’ evening with a ”Learning Cafe” implementation method.
Implementation:

  • Select a suitable space from the day care with enough room for people to come together as groups around tables.
  • Questions regarding sleep and nutrition are written on paper tablecloths for discussion (e.g. How eating/sleeping is going on? Are you happy with these habits? What in these habits is good and what could be changed? Any good advice that you could give to other families?).
  • Parents discuss the themes and write their ideas on the tablecloths.
  • The groups change tables periodically. When they change tables, they can see from tablecloths what previous groups have discussed and continue the discussion.
  • In conclusion, the benefits and ideas are discussed together.
  • There can be an expert providing researched data about nutrition and sleep and who can reply to parents´ questions.

 

 

 

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