A Rainbow In My Tummy® classroom may look different than your typical classroom. We incorporate family-style meal service and emphasize healthy toys and environmental print that represent real, healthy foods. We incorporate nutrition education in all aspects of our curriculum. Nutrition education is often incorporated during mealtime and teachers discuss topics from how strawberries are grown to the importance of recycling.
Family-style meal service is an integral part of successful Rainbow In My Tummy® implementation. Using this approach, meals become more relaxed as adults engage in casual conversation with the children as they share the meal together. Family-style meal service fosters independence by allowing the children to choose their own portions, serve themselves and clear their own place when done. This experience encourages positive child-teacher interactions and children hone fine motor development, gain independence and feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments.
The Child Development Specialist and the Rainbow In My Tummy® Director at Verner have written a formal Rainbow In My Tummy® adult learning curriculum to support a healthy food culture in early care and education centers. The curriculum includes engaging, developmentally-appropriate classroom activities for centers that have implemented Rainbow In My Tummy®. During implementation, we provide classroom assessments to ensure the environment supports a healthy food culture. For example, healthy play foods will be placed in the dramatic play area and puzzles and books will reflect healthful living.
Before implementing the program, we assess classrooms and provide recommendations of “healthy” toy replacements. We also host training opportunities for educators on nutritional literacy, classroom activities and family-style dining. This is a critical component to successfully shifting the food culture in the classroom.
1. Take a healthy field trip. Visit a local farm or farmer’s market. Can’t leave your building? Invite in a farmer or avid gardener to talk to your class.
2. Model healthy eating. Eat what your children are eating and enjoy the healthy foods. Talk about how yummy a food is to encourage children to try new foods.
3. Start a conversation about the food during mealtime. Talk about the foods on the plate and where they come from.
4. Grow a small herb garden. Plant seeds in small cups and place in your classroom window. Watch them grow!
5. Try new foods together. Children will be encouraged to try new foods when they see their teacher and friends trying it too. 1,2,3 take a bite!