Nutrition activities for kids are a fun way to learn about healthy eating. Games, art, field trips, and more can be used at home, or in the classroom, to spark an interest in what fuels the body, so we feel our best.
This compilation of fun, hands-on nutrition activities for kids will engage children of all ages!
Food cut out nutrition activities
Gather your old magazines, flyers, and online printable images! Have kids cut out a variety of real food pictures to practice dexterity, food recognition, and sorting for this set of activity ideas.
For your youngest learners, images can be cut out in advance.
1. Categorizing food cut-outs into proteins, fats, carbs
Once kids start to understand the difference between protein, fats, and carbohydrates, they can sort images into each category.
Younger kids can sort food pictures into meat, fish, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and whole grain categories.
2. Create healthy plates
Assembling a balanced plate is one of the most practical skills you can teach a child, and creating plates can become fun nutrition activities for kids.
Divide a paper plate into sections — veggies and fruit, meat and protein, healthy starch, and natural fats.
Ask kids to use their cut out images to create a variety of meals that include each category of food. Build breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner combinations.
3. Sort into “farm fresh” or “factory food” categories
Kids can also search for and cut out processed food images. Lay out two baskets, one labeled “farm fresh foods” and one labeled “factory foods” — foods that are processed, man-made, and hard to recognize the original ingredients.
Ask kids to sort the images into each basket. This is one of the best nutrition activities for kids for discussing whole foods and clean eating for kids, and why they are an important base to build our meals from. Spark curiosity with questions such as, “How do you feel when you eat more processed foods compared to more real foods?”
Fuel your body collages
What do different foods do for different parts of the body? Use a simple body outline and a variety of whole food picture cut-outs for these activities so kids can start to make the connection between food and body function.
4. Macronutrient collage
Begin with a few simple reasons of how each macronutrient is important for us.
- Tissue growth and repair (muscles, skin, etc.)
- Immune system health
- Cell structure
- Organ protection
- Temperature regulation
- Energy for muscles
- Energy for our brain
- Fiber for a healthy gut
With food images sorted into protein, fat, and carbohydrate piles, kids can glue, tape, or overlay the pictures onto corresponding areas of the body outline.
5. Vitamin and mineral collage
The same nutrition activity for kids can be done with micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
Vitamin A → Eye health
B Vitamins → Energy production
Vitamin C → Immune health
Vitamin E → Protects cells from damage
Vitamin K → Important for blood clotting
Calcium → Bone health
Iron → Oxygen transport from lungs to body tissues
Magnesium → Regular heartbeat
Zinc → Wound healing
Potassium → Muscle contractions
Of course, there needs to be an understanding of which foods are good sources of these micronutrients, too.
6. Active body, active brain collage
What foods are important for fueling an active body and an active brain? Nutrition for athletes can be taught with a similar body collage activity.
Fill the body outline with foods that are important for:
- Powering movement
- Supporting the brain
- Recovery and repair
Sensory exploration – guess that food!
Cooking with toddlers is a great opportunity to open up their senses, but these nutrition activities for kids are fun for all ages. You may make them as simple or complex as your audience is ready for.
We eat first with our eyes. By blindfolding ourselves we can awaken other senses and explore the taste, smell, and feel of different foods.
7. Blind taste test
Can your kids recognize different foods by taste alone? Start with five different foods.
To make the game more challenging for older kids, you can make the foods more similar, so it’s harder to tell them apart.
8. Blind smell test
Wake up the olfactory receptors with a blindfolded smell test. A great example is using fresh herbs for this activity. Basil, cilantro, mint, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. You could also use potent flavors such as garlic, ginger, and lemon.
9. Blind touch test
Mystery bags or bowls with different foods to blindly feel is an adventurous activity for everyone.
- Grapes, olives, berries
- Variety of nuts and seeds
- Oranges, apples, lemons, peaches, pears
- Flour, sugar, and salt
“Eat a rainbow” activities
Vegetables and fruits are naturally colorful, and each of those colors represents different nutrients and antioxidants. A fun way to teach kids the importance of eating a variety of colorful foods is with “Eat a Rainbow” activities.
10. Favorite foods of each color
Young kids can share their favorite foods of each color. Then encourage them to add one more to their list that they want to try.
11. Scavenger hunt
A scavenger hunt through the produce section of the grocery store is ultra fun. Create a list (include pictures for young ones) of fruits and veggies that are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, and white. Can kids find them all?
This exercise helps with recognition and exposure to new foods and sparking curiosity about how to prepare them.
12. Colors represent nutrients
Download the “Eat a Rainbow” printable and help kids learn how different colored foods support their health in different ways. Can they check each color box every day?
Food art activities
Exploring food in artistic ways keeps it fun, encourages creativity, and encourages conversation.
13. Funny face plates
Face plates, or a homemade version, are a great addition to any kitchen with kids. As an adult, decide what whole food ingredients kids can work with — an assortment of veggies, fruits, meats, nuts and seeds — to create funny faces with food before they get to enjoy the balanced meal.
Check out these safe, easy to use kitchen tools for kids to start getting your kids involved with food prep.
14. Animal food art
Can your kids create animal shapes with food? Meal presentation can make all the difference when it comes to helping picky eaters learn to enjoy a variety of healthy foods.
15. Top chef food art competition
Top Chef Junior is a favorite TV challenge for young chefs. Why not set up your own version at home, or in a school kitchen?
Each contestant receives the same ingredients, the same kitchen tools, and the same amount of time to create a food art masterpiece.
We learn our ABC’s when we are itty-bitty, and this letter pattern helps us in all sorts of ways throughout life. We can even use our ABC’s for fun nutrition activities.
16. Letter of the week
Pick a letter of the week with your kids. Together, write down healthy whole foods that start with that letter. Throughout the week you can taste those foods, talk about what makes them healthy for us, and celebrate them in new recipes.
17. ABC healthy recipe book
Creating your own family, or classroom, recipe book is always a memorable project. Come up with one food that starts with each letter of the alphabet. For each food, pick a favorite healthy recipe that highlights that food. Assemble into a homemade binder, or printable book.
18. ABC food list challenge
Who can come up with the most whole foods that start with each letter of the alphabet? Are there foods on that list that you haven’t tried before? Experiment as a family.
Food preparation activities
All hands on deck — let’s prepare food together.
19. Favorite foods — new preparation
Have kids choose a favorite whole food. Brainstorm ways you can prepare that food differently. How do different preparation strategies affect taste and texture?
20. New food — what do we do with it?
Discover new whole foods that kids haven’t tried yet. Encourage them to investigate how they can be prepared. Incorporate the new food into a meal together. What are the nutritional properties of the food?
21. Peeling, slicing, chopping, dicing, mincing
Learning and practicing kitchen skills with real food establishes a connection with healthy ingredients, provides an opportunity to discuss how whole foods impact how we feel, and builds confidence.
Age-appropriate tasks may include peeling, slicing, chopping, dicing, mincing, and mashing.
Cooking activities for kids
22. Read and follow a recipe together
Follow a recipe with your child to explore single ingredient foods, reading instructions, measuring, and observing how foods combine to make a meal.
23. Make a recipe healthier
Do you have family favorite recipes that you and your kids can make healthier? Ingredient swaps and food additions are activities that require some nutrition knowledge, thinking, and creativity.
Swap processed oils, sugars, or flours with real food versions. Add more colorful vegetables. Stir fry instead of deep fry.
24. Create your own nutritious recipe
Create a recipe from scratch with your child. Think about what ingredients nourish the body and how to bring different foods together for taste and health.
Gardening at any level connects us to where food comes from. Real food doesn’t grow in the grocery store — it takes a healthy ecosystem. These activities are designed to explore this natural process, and how we can be a part of it.
25. Garden in a box
A “garden in a box” is an activity that young kids can play with for tactile exploration, discussion on what plants and animals need to grow and thrive, and how to take care of a living environment.
26. Seasonal gardening
Living in an area with distinct seasons lends itself to learning about what foods grow best in different conditions. Small urban homesteading projects, like a box garden, are a rewarding way to learn about local seasonal food. Whether or not you attempt to grow and store foods throughout the year, you can use seasonal growing to talk about, and make meals that emphasize, seasonal ingredients.
27. Build a mini ecosystem
Backyard gardens offer the opportunity to learn about healthy food ecosystems. What do plants need to grow? Are we providing those pieces? Is soil alive? What do plants need from soil to thrive? How does soil benefit from healthy plants?
Fun nutrition games for kids
A good game is a sure way to engage kids.
28. I’m thinking of a food … (guessing game)
Play a guessing game about food, similar to twenty questions. “I’m thinking of a food…”
Have kids ask you yes/no questions to discover what that food is:
- Is it red?
- Is it bigger than a berry?
- Is it shiny and smooth?
- Is it crunchy?
- Is it sweet?
- Is it an apple?
29. Which of these things is not like the other
“Which of these things is not like the other” is always a fun game for young kids. It helps them think and learn about food categories and characteristics.
Spread out a group of four to six foods that are similar in some way, with one food that is different:
- All fruits and one vegetable.
- All liquids and one solid.
- All savory and one sweet.
- All meats and one plant.
- All nuts and one bean.
30. Identify that food
Accumulate a large variety of images of single food items to make flashcards. Run through the deck to see who can identify all the foods, or how fast each person can correctly name them.
Field trips usually mean hands on practical experiences. Seeing things in person can be more impactful than reading about them or hearing about them. Get out there and connect.
31. Visit a local farm
Take a trip to a local farm. This is where real food comes to life, and to see it first hand, explore nature, and meet your local farmers, is how kids learn to truly appreciate the carrots, spinach, and fresh berries on their plate.
32. Farmer’s market
Explore a farmer’s market with your kids. It’s a place to learn about eating locally and seasonally. The farmer’s market is a place to see first-hand:
- Different foods grow in your area at different times of year.
- Not all produce is perfect looking.
- Farmer’s markets support the local community.
33. Join the community garden
Do you have a community garden in your town? If so, participate as a family and talk to your kids about how community gardens decrease food transportation costs, promote sustainable agriculture, and benefit humans, plants, and animals.
34. Butcher shop
Most butchers have a big heart and deep knowledge for animals and how they are raised. Talking with your local butcher will help teach your children to respect and appreciate the whole animal. Raising animals in a humane and sustainable way improves their lives and ours.
Milk a cow, learn how cheese is made, and watch homemade ice cream being churned. These hands on experiences will bring new light to wholesome dairy.
36. Local food artisan
Local ingredients, creativity, and culinary knowledge come together to produce artistically crafted foods. Many local food artisans will give you and your kids a tour to discuss their craft, local ingredients, and traditional cooking methods.
37. Supermarket visit
Visiting the supermarket may not seem like an exciting excursion, but it is a useful place to learn about food and nutrition.
There are such a variety of items and activities at your fingertips.
- Ingredient list comparisons
- Processed food and real food comparisons
- Seasonal produce comparisons
- Creating kid friendly meal plans
Next steps: planning fun nutrition activities for kids
Now you have over thirty-five nutrition activities for you and your kids to play with.
Keep it fun, bring your family together around healthy food, and celebrate the nourishment it provides for a fulfilling life.
For more fun food activities, recipes, and more, I’m a huge fan of the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse, a comprehensive cooking and nutrition course for kids and families.