ROSEVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) – Children and vegetables can be like oil and water. They just won’t mix.
So when 3- and 4-year-olds are grabbing slices of green pepper by the handful, it’s easy to wonder how they grew to love eating their veggies.
During snack time at Kinderberry Hill Child Development Center in Roseville, teachers have been trying a new way to teach kids about healthy eating. A green iguana puppet named Lana encourages the kids to try fruits and vegetables.
“As soon as you put Lana on, (the kids’) faces light up and they know it’s time to try something new,” says Megan Recksiedler, a teacher at Kinderberry Hill.
LANA stands for Learning About Nutrition through Activities. The program was developed by the University of Minnesota for caregivers, whether at home or in a child care setting.
One example of snack time is having the kids learn about different types of peppers. Each of the children try a red, green, and yellow pepper and are then asked which one they liked the best.
“I liked all of them,” one student said.
The teacher then asks the children if they’d like “kisses” from the puppet Lana, which they really seem to enjoy.
Recksiedler says parents should be able to apply some of the techniques used in the LANA program at home.
“If you taste it with them, that’s a great way for them to try it too,” says Recksiedler.
Before the kids can eat their snack, they get familiar with the food, touching it and learning what color it is.
Teachers say including a “fun” sauce to dip the veggies in always helps as well.