Eat a Rainbow Presented by Travis County Master Gardeners
How do you get almost 400 third and fourth graders excited about healthy eating with Halloween approaching, which is one of the unhealthiest holidays? Answer… use a colorful poster, sparkling bracelets, and interactive teaching to reinforce that colorful foods are healthy.
Twelve enthusiastic Travis County Master Gardeners did just that at the Science of Agriculture Event at the Travis County Exposition Center on Thursday, October 5th. The event consisted of eight separate sessions for the Title 1 schools. The children divided into three groups for each session to encourage participation.
Halloween Theme Scares Up Interest
A Halloween themed spooky skeleton poster illustrates how eating a rainbow of colors affects different parts of the body. The brain, eyes, skeleton, teeth, heart, aging, and the immune system are all tied in with food. Students learned that red is not the only color food that is good for their heart. White, yellow, and orange are “heart healthy” too. Children then called out foods that were red, white, yellow, and orange to illustrate their understanding.
Next, Master Gardeners held up actual, fresh food of different colors and asked the children to identify them. The foods chosen were not on the poster and not ones that they normally see raw. The children identified the food and the targeted body part. Some of the foods relating to the heart included sweet potatoes and mushrooms. As expected, with Halloween right around the corner, pumpkins were frequently called out as healthy food.
Bracelets Crafted As Reminders
At the end of each session, Master Gardeners distributed black chenille stems and bags of colorful beads that sparkled. Each bead represented a color of food covered in the presentation. As the children strung their beads, Master Gardeners reinforced that each colored bead represented specific healthy foods. The children delighted in wearing their bracelets on their wrists, as well as on their ankles.
The children were encouraged to share the information with their families and to keep the bracelet as a reminder that they should “eat a rainbow.” All of the Master Gardeners felt that this was a fun and worthwhile experience. As a result of this event, children learned that many colorful foods can be healthy and target specific parts of the body; they just have to “eat a rainbow.”
The program “Eat a Rainbow,” developed by Travis County Master Gardener JaNet Booher. It’s a crowd favorite at plant clinics and other community events.
This article was written by Evelyn Hootkins, Travis County Master Gardener and coordinator for the Eat a Rainbow activity.