Nutrition Based Physical Activity GamesPrint Page
Physical activity and healthy eating go hand in hand, so why not combine them both for some exciting fun! Studies show that incorporating movement into learning can assist a child in gaining and retaining knowledge. Nutrition education should be a life skill that is incorporated into daily routines and innovative learning strategies so our children are empowered to develop and maintain lifelong healthy habits. Taking an unstructured approach to learning and allowing children to move while they learn not only is a great way to get the brain stimulated and promote exercise – it also allows for a deeper dive into the mind-body connection. Discuss with your child why sitting less and moving more is important for good health along with the benefits of healthy eating.
MyPlate Relay Race
A fun take on your typical relay race – this game explores different foods and their food groups and can be easily adapted to be played with as little or as many players – indoor or out!
- 5 buckets or bins (you can also use tupperwear containers, empty shoeboxes, soup pots or other items you have on hand at home)
- Bags – the same number of teams you have playing (plastic, recycled grocery bag, backpack, reusable tote, etc.)
- Variety of food models/ play food or pictures (5-10 for each category and each team)
- Don’t have any on hand? Make your own! Cut pictures out from the circulars in the paper or invite children to draw pictures with crayons or markers of various foods in each food group. Cut them out and write the name on the back to add in a spelling lesson!
- Optional: Colored markers or construction paper to create corresponding color labels for each food group
Steps for Set-Up:
- Gather five buckets or bins for each team and label them to show the five food groups: 1) Grains, 2) Fruits, 3) Vegetables, 4) Dairy, and 5) Meat/Meat Alternate
- You can also use the corresponding food group color to help identify the bucket or bin and reinforce the color of each food group by using colored construction paper or a colored marker.
- Place the buckets or bins at the end of a hallway or in an area where children can run a distance to get to it (e.g. backyard or safe open space)
- Take a baggie and place a variety of food models or pictures of foods in it. You will be giving each team a baggie of these, so make enough to cover each team you have playing. Make sure to have an equal amount in each!
Steps to play:
- Separate into teams and have each team line up at the “starting” line.
- Give each team a bag of food models/ food cutouts and assign a team leader. The baggie will stay with the first person at the beginning of the line.
- When the leader says “Go,” each team will begin its relay. Team members will take turns pulling a food model or picture from their team’s bag and running to the appropriate MyPlate bucket or bin and putting it in the correct one.
- After placing the food picture or model in the correct bucket or bin, the participant will run back and tag the next person in line. The teams will continue the activity until the bag at the starting line of each team is empty.
- When both teams have finished, remove the food models or pictures from the buckets or bins. Pull the items one by one from each as a check and review what foods “belong” in each food group.
Musical Fruits and Vegetables
This simple, but exciting game incorporates fun music with fruits and vegetables to encourage learning through movement!
- Fresh fruits and veggies
- Pictures of selected fruits and veggies (e.g. printed out, cut out from grocery circulars or invite children to draw their own)
- Slips of paper
- Pen or marker
- Music (played through a favorite device or singing to the tune of a favorite song)
Steps for Set-Up:
- Place the pictures in a circle on the floor and tape each one to the floor to secure and prevent slipping when stepped on.
- Take slips of paper and write down each fruit and vegetable chosen for the game and a fun fact on each slip, then place in a cup.
- Gather the fruit and veggies and have them on hand nearby. Note: This game incorporates tasting the items, so these fruits and vegetables should match the ones in the pictures and be items you have on hand at home. Some ideas are apples, pears, kiwi, bananas, peaches, plums, strawberries, raisins, cranberries, carrots, sugar snap peas, celery, broccoli, etc.
Steps to play:
- Start playing the music of your choice. As the music plays, invite children to move and dance around the circle. When the music stops, the children should stop on the nearest space.
- After everyone stops on a space, pull out a slip of paper. The child standing on the space corresponding to the slip drawn wins that piece of fruit or vegetable and joins you to help draw the next slip. Remember to tell the group about the fun fact!
Continue playing until everyone is a winner or you run out of time and taste test the produce won.
Eating Healthy Dance Party
Dancing is a great way to get your heart rate up and can be fun for all! This specific dance activity incorporates healthy eating messages into fun movements through music. Studies show that pairing learning with creative movement and music leads to better understanding and retention of learning for children. Share this activity with friends and relatives and invite them to join virtually. Consider scheduling an at-home dance party activity on a virtual meeting platform to show off your new songs and moves!
Visit these websites for fun songs to learn and incorporate movement:
- Songs for Teaching uses music to promote learning and provides a library full of nutrition and food songs.
- USDA ChooseMyPlate has three songs to learn and get moving to while promoting MyPlate and healthy eating.
- Color Me Healthy music gets children up and moving to a fun and happy beat.
- The Learning Station brings you the Fruit and Veggie Hokey Pokey! A twist on an all-time favorite dance song.
Adapt these games to fit your space. Use household items and modify to accommodate as many or little participants.
Host a songwriting contest using healthy foods and pair it with your favorite beat!
Consider using these activities as brain breaks or recess at home. Schedule recess, just like schools do, and make it a part of your family’s daily routine.
Dancing can be considered unstructured play and opens the door for additional exploration, creativity, and self-expression for your child. Invite them to teach you their favorite dance moves or lead an activity.