Nutrition Part 1 and the Letter Jj

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, a day often associated with food, we are beginning a unit on nutrition that will span two weeks. While Part 1 introduces healthy eating habits, nutrition, and the grain and dairy food groups, Part 2 (next week) will focus primarily on fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Our letter of the week is Jj, Jerry Jellyfish, and the kindergarten readiness skill is personal hygiene and self sufficiency. May the next couple of weeks be both delicious and fun for your family!

Self Sufficiency and Personal Hygiene

When it comes to personal self sufficiency and hygiene in kindergarten, we're talking about a child's ability to use the bathroom and wash-hands on his/her own. In short, your child should be progressing towards (or maybe has already mastered) using the toilet without another person's help. This includes managing whatever clothing she is wearing, wiping, flushing and washing-up afterwards. Regarding clothing, it's helpful if your child is dressed in something that encourages self sufficiency. For example, overalls may be difficult for your child to buckle/unbuckle, but elastic-waist pants might be more manageable. If your child is still working on some of these bathroom skills, you may want to put up pictures to remind her of the steps, or practice using zippers and buttons.

Hand-washing is probably on all of our minds more these days. It's important that children be able to wash their own hands for 20 seconds, and dry them afterwards. There are some cute songs to help remind your child to scrub all of the parts of their hands, and to spend enough time washing. In the gallery below, there are a couple of song suggestions, as as well as a poster you could hang in your bathroom. If you're looking to teach your child the importance of soap and scrubbing, there are some germ-related activities below also. Hand-washing doesn't have to be a chore, even if it does have to happen frequently throughout the day.

Zoo Phonic Animal Friend: Jerry Jellyfish, Jj

Jerry Jellyfish's tentacles help him to form the letter J easily. We can pretend to be Jerry by wiggling our arms and floating around. We can watch videos about and draw pictures of jellyfish, or we can do the jellyfish yoga pose. There are also some fun jellyfish crafts. If you get the opportunity to visit the Seattle Aquarium, you may see jellyfish as well.

jerry jellyfish.jpg

Nutrition

We probably all agree that healthy eating is important. When we were children, the food pyramid was a big deal, but now it's "Choose My Plate." The main idea is similar, though: We get the nutrients our bodies need from the food that we eat; healthier foods, in the right proportions, help us to be healthier people and it's never too early to encourage nutritious habits in our children. The USDA's Choose My Plate site has many excellent resources to help us in this endeavor. They recommend focusing on whole foods (as opposed to overly processed foods that may be less nutritious and have too much added sugar or salt). By varying the foods we serve to our children, we are making sure they get a variety of vitamins and nutrients, as well as exposing them to different tastes. This is important for each of the food groups. Choose My Plate suggests serving a rainbow of fruit and vegetable choices each day. They also suggest that half of our grains should be whole-grain. The amount of food your child eats is important as well. Research shows that forcing children to clean their plates increases the likelihood they could become overweight later in life. If you are concerned that your child is not eating enough, or have other questions about nutrition, I recommend you contact your child's pediatrician.

There are some cute ways to about the various food groups, and types of taste (salty, sweet, sour, bitter),  but I think the most fun way is to experiment with food. Experiment by tasting different foods, building with foods, making art out of food. The suggested activities below include some science projects you can do together, as well as some craft projects. The focus this week is on grain and dairy foods. You may want to go on a grocery store scavenger hunt, or do some investigating in your pantry or fridge to identify the various types of foods you have. If you have a bunch of magazines at home, your child could make a collage of various food pictures, or maybe you want to focus on one food group at a time. When we teach about foods in our classes, we like to cook and taste. We make butter in a mason jar and eat it on a tortilla; we have a tasting party where we make sure each plate has a variety of flavors on it, and we bake muffins together. We use chocolate pudding as finger paint, and decorate place mats for Thanksgiving.

Fortunately, there are a tons of stories and songs that deal with nutrition. There's a read aloud of Secret Pizza Party below, as well as a video for Raffi's song, "Aikendrum." If you're looking for something more active, GoNoodle.com has several songs that we love, including "Cookie Boogie," "It's Time for Lunch," and "Fabio's Meatball Run." Stay tuned for more food-related read aloud videos next week!