When my son was little, a lot of our afternoons were spent running his sister around to after-school activities. Whenever possible, I would find a spot for him to run, jump, and burn off some energy. But sometimes that just wasn’t possible. So, I always had a stash of puzzle activities and games to keep him entertained. Some of his all-time favorites were Find-It Games — like find the animals, find the trains, and find the letters. It was not only fun for him, but it was also an important way for him to expand his vocabulary of all types of objects.
Building a food vocabulary is important for healthy eaters. When kids learn the names of foods, they can talk about them — and when they can talk about them, they can ask for them. After all, it’s a lot easier to say, “Let’s buy that eggplant and find out what it tastes like,” if they know that the shiny purple thing in the produce aisle is a vegetable called eggplant.
Ideally, from a young age kids will taste and enjoy a wide variety of foods. Unfortunately, most kids don’t eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. (Phytonutrients are special compounds found in plant foods that have important health benefits.) Because every fruit and vegetable has different levels of nutrients, it’s important to eat a wide variety of them to get an optimal mix of nutrients.
Although some kids are naturally accepting of new foods, others are much more reluctant to try them. However, even reluctant kids can learn to like a variety of foods with repeated exposure. It can take a dozen exposures to a food before a kid will taste it and can take another dozen tastes before they accept a food as one that they like.
While it’s important for kids to be exposed to the actual foods in real life, playing games that let them practice identifying foods will help to expand their food vocabulary. A healthy food vocabulary will help kids talk about and ask for healthy foods. So, try this Fruit and Veggie Find-It Game with your favorite kiddos and they’ll be asking for eggplant in no time!