Therapy Activities Using Fruits And Vegetables
Using food in your sessions can be fun and delicious. Fruits and vegetables are a creative resource to use for various therapy activities. Not only do they provide a fun hands-on experience for students but can often hold cultural ties as well. This is a great way to foster cultural awareness in your therapy room.
The available fruits and vegetables will change with the seasons. Consider using the season harvest so you can integrate conversations about where food comes from and the work farmers do year round. Before selecting the foods that you will include for your activity check with families for food allergies and you can also ask for insight about which fruits and vegetables are consumed at home.
When you select the fruits and vegetables to use in your activity consider researching their names in other languages, the origin, how it is harvested, where can you find it in your community, and how it is eaten. Do not assume a student has background knowledge for the foods you will share and always consider how the student can relate to the food based on their socio-cultural background.
Name that Fruit with Toys and Books
A nice way to introduce new produce to kids is to actively involve them with chants and singing. Rah, Rah, Radishes! and Go, Go, Grapes! by April Pulley Sayre are perfect to get everyone excited about this topic. If you have the time and space, you could have some of the fruits and vegetables mentioned in the books ready for them to point to as they chant. At the end, they can also snack on some of the goodies to try new food.
Additional books that talk about fruits and vegetables and use vocabulary with the theme include the following:
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- The Vegetables We Eat and The Fruits We Eat by Gail Gibbons
- Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
- City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
- Community Soup by Alma Fullerton
- La rebelión de las Verduras by David Aceituno y Daniel Montero Galán
If you are not able to have fruits and vegetables available for kids to try, try to get include plastic or wooden food for them to point to when they are listening to the stories. Introduce the foods that you find with the objects that the children can feel. You may also include pictures and videos that provide additional context for your students. Share what they would be called for your bilingual learners.
Making Fruit and Veggie Faces
Share artwork from Guiseppe Arcimboldo with students. See if they are able to identify different items within his art. Give everyone blank pieces of paper and colored pencils to make their own drawing. For younger children, they can use magazines and ads of food to cut out and make a collage.
For older students,Do Art!has a wonderful guide of the collage project that can be used a reference for this project. For younger children, consider using the iPad app called Cute Food. The app has a large selection of fruits and vegetables that they can use to create items on a plate. You can instruct them to make their face using the fruit and vegetable pieces within.
To tie in with speech and language, encourage them to model what they are creating. Ask them questions and have them talk about the sequencing of their project. Encourage them to use descriptions of the fruits and vegetables within their artwork.
Colorful and Edible Learning
To go along with a reading activity, bring in some real fruit and vegetables for show and tell. If this is not possible, see what play or felt food may be in schools or libraries which you could use. Take time to involve bilingual students and go over what each item would translate to in other languages. Include a variety of produce considering the cultural diversity of your students and what is available in the community. For example, if you have students of Caribbean descent include fruits like papaya and mango in your activity.
If there are no food allergies, make a fruit rainbow or other taste-testing activity. Buy skewers that will fit six or more pieces of fruit on each one, and then grab fruits in each of the rainbow colors. Strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, green grapes, blueberries, and red grapes are some possibilities for each color.
These activities work for a variety of therapy types and goals. Occupational therapy students can work on fine motor skills when they pinch the fruit and put them onto the skewers. Physical therapy students can act out The Very Hungry Caterpillar before they gobble up their own snack. Working on balance, crawling like a caterpillar, and flapping butterfly wings are all options. Speech Language Pathologists can work with students by encouraging them to label and talk about their favorite fruits while they model making their fruit skewers. Social skills groups can work on team building by making an assembly line for the fruit snack.
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