George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Summer is all about local food, and for parents, now's the perfect time to sneak in a lesson or two about healthy eating. Here are some fun and entertaining resources to help kids learn about food at the farmer's market, in the garden, and at the kitchen table:

Fun at the Farmer's Market

Farmer's markets are the perfect place to pique your kids’ interest in local food. From counting and colors, to mini-lessons on plant cycles and seasons, the learning opportunities are endless. A good place to start is Local Harvest for a list of markets in your neck of the woods. And once you make the trip, here are some ideas and tips for teaching kids about community-based agriculture.

  • Learning at the Farmer’s Market: Author Zrinka Peters covers some fun and easy ways to encourage learning in this blog.
  • Lessons from Talking to Farmers: In this SheKnows Parenting feature, author Sarah W. Caron highlights five ideal mini-lessons for teaching your kids about local food. For another helpful resource, check out for five other farmer’s market activities.
  • Entertaining Agriculture Lesson Plans: Growing Minds -- a Farm to School group based in southern Appalachia -- features plenty inspiring lesson plans for teachers and parents. For instance, one lesson encourages K-2 students to learn about worms, and another teaches kids about trying cabbage.

Gardening 101: A Living Lab for Kids

Your tomatoes might be ripening on the vine and those sunflowers might be towering tall, but the growing season isn’t over just yet. In fact, late summer is the perfect time to sow in fall crops. To start a fall gardening project, first, check out Learning2Grow’s guide to late summer planting, then try some of these fun family gardening activities:

  • Family Gardening Activities at Produced by The National Gardening Association, there are plenty of wonderful, year-round ideas in this resource to try in your backyard or window sill garden.
  • Ideas for Gardening with Your Child: Looking for the best crops to let kids grow? Well then, this EasyEarth post is a must-read. Not to mention, there are some great in-the-garden pointers for beginners.
  • 10 Gardening Projects Your Kids Will Love: Pizza gardens, DIY sundial projects and fun with strawberry plants: These are just a few of the entertaining backyard ideas covered in this blog from The Stir.
  • Organic Gardening with Children: Organic Gardening magazine covers all the bases in this feature, offering tips for getting your kids started in the garden. Plus, there’s an in-depth list of flowers, vegetables, and other plants to help your kids learn by doing.

DIY Learning in the Kitchen

Of course, once you stop in at the farmer’s market or harvest your garden’s bounties, the kitchen is the next logical step. Here are some helpful ideas for cooking with your kids.

  • Cooking with Kids -- 35 Fun Ideas and Recipes: From desserts and kitchen crafts to recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, ArtfulParent highlights 35 must-try recipes and kitchen projects for families.
  • Delicious Learning Ideas from PBS Parents: There are plenty of valuable fun-with-food ideas in this PBS resource. Included are tips for winning over picky eaters and activities to encourage healthy eating.
  • A Child’s Place in the Kitchen: Yes, cooking with your kids can be tons of fun, but it also encourages a healthy development -- from skill building to sensory learning. This insightful Cultivate post highlights many of the different ways kids learn in the kitchen.
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Dr John Mayer's picture
Dr John Mayer
School Consultant-author

I agree with all, good recommendations. I would add a simple mantra to follow to engage kids/teens into healthy eating: HAVE FUN WITH FOOD. Often with healthy choices they are presented so blandly to kids. Pump up the volume! See how in the book: http://tinyurl/ccoj857

Shawn Lavoie's picture
Shawn Lavoie
Youth Initiative High School in Viroqua, WI

Connecting food to agriculture, plate to farm, is so crucial. Teaching kids to cook is a missing piece that, in our experience, really engages older students (late middle and high school). Our curriculum using cooking as an entree into nutrition and the food system:

Jeff Williams's picture
Jeff Williams
Freelance online content writer for latest upgoing niches

This inspiring guide offers simple, practical advice as it takes you step-by-step through more than 100 engaging, family-friendly garden activities. Whether you're playing leapfrog over pumpkins, harvesting a six-plant part burrito, cooking up a compost cake, weaving lavender wands, or pickling pears, the fun-filled memories will last a lifetime.thank for sharing with us

Lina Raffaelli's picture
Lina Raffaelli
Former Community Engagement Intern at Edutopia

Great suggestions. An added bonus is that gardening and visiting farmers markets are both great activities for getting kids outside and active during summertime; it's a win-win situation!

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