Fruits and vegetables are a creative (delicious) 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 integrate a lesson on culture and history into a fun therapy session as well.
The variety of available fruits and vegetables changes with the season. Kids may not be as aware of this, because you can often find most food in our grocery stores. Ask children if they have ever been to a farmers market for fresh fruits and vegetables. Take time before starting to poll the group to see what their favorites may be. Email all families to check in on special fruits and vegetables and identify any potential allergies. Multilingual students may have something special because of cultural ties or where their family lived before the United States.
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 Eatby Gail Gibbons
- Eating a Rainbowby Lois Ehlert
- Eating the Alphabetby Lois Ehlert
If you are not able to have fruits and vegetables available for kids to try, try to locate 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. Share what they would be called for your multilingual 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. To tie in with speech and language, encourage them to explain what they are doing as they are creating. Allow time for everyone to walk you through their creative process step by step. An additional step is to have them describe the fruits and vegetables that are within the pictures.
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 multilingual learners and go over what each item would translate to in other languages. 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 Caterpillarbefore 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 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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