Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Healthy Eating Game for kids (with a Halloween twist)

I came up with the Healthy Eating Game so the boys could "fish" for healthy foods that grow in a garden (not necessarily our garden since we have yet to grow anything you can actually eat). And since they're kids and it's Halloween soon we added some fun Halloween items for a Halloween twist. The idea for this game came from a few things: My boys like catching anything with a magnet. They're interested in the garden. And they're getting to the age where they're starting to prefer candy and junk to fresh fruits and vegetables, so a game that reminds them what's healthy and what's not seemed like the thing to do.

Object of the game: Take turns fishing for healthy food and putting it into your basket. No points for getting junk food. When it's your turn, if you get healthy food, you put it in your basket. If you get a piece of candy, you have to throw it back. When all the healthy food is gone, the person with the most wins. If the kids are in doubt about whether something is healthy, we ask "Can you grow this in a garden?" If not…it's probably junk you want to throw back.
Halloween twist - kids take turns fishing for fun Halloween candy and treats and putting them in their Halloween Trick or Treat bags. No points for healthy food. The kid with the most candy wins. (When Halloween has past, we'll ditch the licorice bats and witches hats and I'll add some foam fries, hamburgers and random candy as the "junk" we want to avoid and we'll just keep the game as just getting the healthy items).
Ages: My 2 and 4 year old boys love this. If I leave the 2-year-old alone with it, he'll definitely get into trouble with the paperclips and magnets, so this should be supervised closely by an adult.

Here's what you need:

Foam crafting sheets
Wooden dowel or popsicle sticks
Small baskets (one for each child)
For the Halloween twist - add 2 brown paper bags

Draw some food shapes onto your foam sheets with a pen. Cut them out and decorate them with markers. You can add a piece of foam for stems and other adornments, like the husk on the corn and the peel on the banana. I learned the hard way that you should not make anything thicker than two foam sheets. Don't be tempted to use three sheets of foam for anything - the magnet won't pick it up.
Glue a paperclip on the back of each foam fruit, veggie or treat. Leave this to dry overnight..
To make your fishing pole you can buy a wooden dowel, cut it into small fishing rod lengths (about 12 inches), sand the ends and paint it (like I did). Or you can always use a popsicle stick or a wooden ruler or even a pencil - all will work just fine. Tie some yarn onto the end and glue the yarn to a magnet. I used Elmer's School glue for this and let it dry overnight as well.
We just used small found baskets from around the house to put the healthy food in - any little bowl or basket would work.
To make the trick or treat baskets for the Halloween treats, we just got a small brown paper lunch bag and cut a handle on the top and taped it, and then the boys decorated it with Halloween stickers.
They had a great time playing the game about 10 times in a row and enjoyed switching between getting the healthy food and the Halloween food.
I've got to say, the boys seemed to enjoy picking up broccoli, peas and strawberries for the healthy eating game. I was a bit worried that they'd only want to play the Halloween portion of the game, but I don't even think they'll notice when the Trick or Treat bags disappear and they're just fishing for healthy food. Maybe for Christmas, we'll add some candy canes and fake cookies and let them put them in a little felt stocking - they are kids after all and you've gotta mix it up a bit.

The game is a real hit and it's become a favorite activity for them. It's a quick and painless game and they both seem to have pretty even odds of winning.
Because my boys are my boys, they did decide that whacking each other in the head with the fishing stick was fun after awhile, as was trying to feed the foam food to the dog, but at the end of the day the pieces held up well and it's been used at least once a day since we made it.


Cherie said...

Hi Kate! I just read your guest post over at Travels with Children and wanted to say thanks! We're going on vacation to Orlando in about 6 weeks and this looks like a great way to take a break from Mickey. My son will be just about 2 yrs by that time and I know he will just love this.

Great post and thanks!

Also, I'm thinking of starting a garden next year so I'll definitely be keeping tabs on you now that I found you! :)

Sinfonian said...

Just happened upon your blog and find it amazing that we too have 4 and 2 year old boys. They also love the trips to the petting zoos and exotic animal farms. I liked the kangaroos the best.

I started my garden so my 4 year old and I could grow healthy veggies for the family. Hope your experience was as enjoyable and educational as mine!

Anonymous said...

Very cool game! I'm doing this for sure. Thanks.

kinks_dee said...

cute! sounds like a fun game for the boys 7 the process of making the food looks fun too! thanks!

Lia said...

I work as a speech language pathologist and have made many fishing games. Yours is the cutest I've seen. I am going to try using foam instead of just plain old paper and drawings. Great idea.

Kate and Crew said...

Thanks for all the kind words everyone!

Lia - my oldest son is in speech and my youngest son starts next week! We make all sorts of silly things to encourage them to say the sounds they're having trouble with. Right now we're working on the /k/ sound with lots of candy corn (and not tandy torn - LOL)

Unknown said...

I love the idea of fishing for healthy foods.

Sarah Smith said...

I'm excited to have found your blog, and to make this game!

maria said...

It's a beautiful idea!! I write you from Italy, your blog is so nice!!!

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