‘Rainbow’ kit encourages healthy eating in young children

Published 20 December 2010

vegiesA new teaching and learning resource for encouraging young children to eat more fruit and vegetables is becoming available to pre-schools and child care centres.

Developed by Shelley Woodrow, an educational consultant, and Nadine McCrea, an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of New England, the resource kit uses a range of innovative graphic techniques and hands-on activities to help pre-school children explore the world of plant foods. The project was initiated – and funded – by Australian Avocados.

The kit includes an educators’ resource book titled Eating My Colourful Vegies and Fruit, a large poster presenting groups of fruits and vegetables in a colourful “rainbow”, and “picto-recipes” that children can follow in making simple vegetable dishes with prepared ingredients. It encourages children to “explore the rainbow” by eating vegetables and fruits from the different colour groups, to use all their senses in their explorations of plant foods, and to be adventurous in trying new foods.

“Its hands-on approach allows children to be actively involved as ‘plant investigators’, said Dr McCrea, a specialist in food education. “For example, the kit includes ‘colour swatches’ that help children to identify which colour group a real fruit or vegetable comes from.”

She said the project was proceeding at a time of increasing public concern about children’s eating patterns.

From an initial print run of 500 kits, about 150 have already been distributed – free of charge – to pre-schools and child care centres in the New England region. In addition, one kit has been sent to an inner-city Sydney centre, and another to an East Melbourne centre. In return, teachers are asked for feedback on the use of the kit.

The remainder of the first 500 kits will be distributed in March and April 2011, Dr McCrea said. “And we’ll go on to a second print run if it’s well received,” she added.

More information about Eating My Colourful Vegies and Fruit is available on the Australian Avocados Web site (www.avocado.org.au), to which people are invited to send “stories” about their use of the kit by e-mailing earlychildhood@avocado.org.au. Parts of the kit can be downloaded from the Web site. Dr McCrea said that an accompanying DVD was being prepared, and would be available in March 2011.

The image displayed here expands to show Associate Professor Nadine McCrea (right),  Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students and Social Inclusion) Eve Woodberry (centre), and UNE Reference Librarian Crystal Plowman with the resource kit after Dr McCrea presented a copy of it to the Dixson Library last month.