This month during the preschool “music and movement” class that I teach, we have been learning about how to take care of our bodies through healthy living. Because healthy food choices are such an important part of good health, I wanted to make sure to have a special class dedicated to learning about good nutrition. I also wanted to teach my group of 2-5 year olds that healthy foods can be fun! As a preschool teacher and a mom, I find that a lot of the “fun” foods marketed for kids are also the most unhealthy foods. I wanted to help the kids learn that healthy foods can be just as exciting and tasty as any sugary snack.
To accomplish this I decided to have a special “Healthy Foods are Magical” Party for class. To make the day truly magical, I invited some special guests to class, which I knew the kids would love… Disney’s Mickey and friends! Thanks to my special Disney Side @Home Celebration Kit, I had all of the supplies that I needed to transform an ordinary class into a magical learning experience with a Disney side!
I wanted the kids to know right from the moment that they arrived that we would be doing something special for class, so Emily helped me out by arriving early, toting her American Tourister Luggage with all of the Disney Side @Home Celebration Party Supplies in it. We helped to set the mood by hanging some dangling Disney decorations over the walkway into our classroom, and leaving fun red and yellow balloons covering the floor. It amazed me how much of a difference this made! As soon as the kids arrived they looked up and saw their favorite Disney characters and where so excited to find out what was in store for the rest of class!
While we waited for everyone to arrive and get settled in, I passed out pool noodles that had been cut into 1/3 sections. I showed the kids how to use the noodles as bats to hit the balloons around the room. The kids loved it, and didn’t want to stop… until I brought out a giant parachute for them to hold onto. We threw all of the balloons on to the parachute and made them fly! Balloons flew everywhere! The kids where ready for a fun day ahead!
To give healthy eating a “Disney Side” I planned several fun activities that would be hands-on learning games, each including a Disney element from our Disney Side @Home Celebration kit. It really amazed me how adding just a few Disney touches, really captured their attention and made the day magical!
“Healthy Food Are Magical” Activities:
* Shake Our Sillies Out– To get the kids warmed up we sang a silly song to “shake our sillies out!” I gave each of the kids a shaker made from two Disney Party Cups glued together, with some rice inside. The kids loved shaking them and especially loved the fun Mickey Mouse Characters on their shakers.
* Power-Up Pit Stops– Before our next activity I reminded the kids that we had been learning about healthy bodies and that an important part of being healthy is powering up with healthy foods. I told them that our bodies are like cars, and we need to put healthy food in our tanks so that we can drive really fast. I gave each of the kids a Mickey Mouse steering wheel (a plain white paper plate with a Mickey Mouse sticker stuck in the middle).. I put on some music and we used our steering wheels to drive around the room while making “bruuuummm” and “beep beep” noises. Then at different intervals I would stop the music and all of the little drivers stopped so that we could take a pit-stop to power-up on healthy foods. We pretended to eat apples and carrots, and the kids even did a great job suggesting some healthy ideas of their own. Once we had finished our pretend snack, the music started back up and we resumed our drive. We repeated this several times until the song was all done!
* Uncovering Healthy Foods– To learn about healthy foods while giving the kids a fun sensory activity, I prepared a few tubs with pretend fruits and vegetables from our play food set, covered with uncooked rice. The kids love it any time that I bring out the rice tubs because they know that means lots of pouring and digging fun! However, I know that also means that things can get a little messy! So to help contain the mess while adding some Disney Magic to the activity, I first laid down a Disney Side @Home Celebration Table Cloth on the floor that had Mickey Mouse and friends on it. I told the kids to choose a their favorite character to sit on (which brought a lot of excited chatter about which character everyone wanted to sit on) and then brought out the tubs. The kids loved digging through the rice and enjoying the fantastic sensory experience! As they uncovered different fruits and vegetables hidden in it, we talked about how tasty and healthy for our body each one is. As predicted things got a little messy, but the Disney Side @Home Celebration table cloth made clean up a breeze, as I was able to roll all of the rice up inside of it and we were done!
*Making Minestrone Bean Bag Toss– For our next activity I brought out a big soup pot and different colored bean bags so we could make a yummy vegetable soup. I had the kids line up and take turns picking a bean bag out of my bag to add to our soup. To learn about healthy food while practicing our colors, together we named the color and a healthy food to add to the soup pot of that color, and then threw it in “bean bag toss” style. All of the kids enjoyed this, and got a few turns each. Once all of the beanbag “ingredients” had been thrown into the pot, I passed out wooden spoons and Disney Side @Home Celebration Plates and the kids got to mix and serve our “vegetable soup.” As we mixed, we sang a silly song “I’ve been making minestrone” (to the tune of I’ve been working on the railroad). Everyone loved it, and serving their pretend soup on those very special plates, was the little spark of magic that really turned the activity into something extraordinary!
We finished our class with our normal routine of having some free time with instruments and then calming down with some children’s yoga and classical music. After that, everyone headed to the craft tables for a special craft project! Before class I had prepared some Hanes T-Shirts that had come in the Disney Side @Home Celebration Kit with some Crayola Fabric Markers, for the kids to decorate. I had written the phrase “Healthy Foods are Magical” along with an outline of Mickey Mouse ears on each shirt so that the kids could have something to take home to remember the party. I explained to the kids that they where special “kitchen helper” t-shirts that they could slip on over their clothes to keep clean while helping their moms and dads prepare healthy food in the kitchen. I then passed out the fabric markers (which are fantastic and easy for kids their age to use) and let the kids color in their Mickey Mouse Ears and add any other designs they liked to the T-Shirts! I think this was one of their favorite parts of the day! They where all so proud of their hand-designed T-Shirts, and I have heard from a few different moms that they have already been put to use in the kitchen!
As the kids worked on their project, Emily was busy putting together a healthy snack for the kids, to show them first hand how magical healthy foods can be! She prepared a simple trail mix containing peanuts, whole grain cereal, craisins and just a few mini marshmallows. To add some Disney Magic, while making it perfectly portioned for kids, she put each serving of trail mix into a Disney Side @Home Celebration cupcake liner! This made an ordinary trail mix really exciting! Along with the trail mix, Emily served some cheese slices cut into Disney shapes using Disney Cookie Cutters. To add even more Disney Magic, she passed these out to the kids on some the remaining Disney @Home
Celebration plates. The kids gobbled up this healthy and fun snack, that was made extra special with some Disney flair. As the kids finished up their snacks, parents started to arrive and we had a fun goody bag for them to take home that included Disney posters, a Muppet calendar, ESPN bracelets and rub-on Goofy tattoos.
I think our day of learning about healthy foods was a big success! Thanks to a little magic from our friends at Disney, I think that the kids where excited to make healthy food choices as they remember that healthy foods are magical!
Leanne Cox is a guest writer for CleverHousewife.com. She is a stay-at-home mom to two kids, and a credentialed preschool teacher. Leanne teaches “mommy-and-me” and “preschool style” music & movement classes through her business “Little Stars Music & Movement Classes” . She is passionate about encouraging early childhood education through hands on learning and exploration