This sweet activity was inspired by a woman who inspires everyone on the Tinkergarten team. Haile Thomas started cooking when she was only 8 years old. She was solving a really important problem— helping her dad get healthy again. We welcome you to celebrate Haile as a powerful change maker and engage your kiddos in creating heart-healthy and delicious treats for the people they love.
Click here to watch Haile speak about her work directly to Tinkergarten explorers. She filmed this message as part of our Problem Solving season, but her message is timeless and has inspired many Tinkergarten kids to take a bigger interest in getting, preparing and enjoying healthy foods.
Step 2: Explore Fruits and Veggies.
Go to wherever you shop for food and explore the fresh fruits and vegetables with kids. Behold the colors, shapes, scents and textures. Which ones have you tried? Which ones do you love? Which ones do you think a person you love would love, too? Note: If there are herbs, fruits or other treats growing in your area, head right to the farm, garden or safe foraging area to gather yummy ingredients right from the earth around you! Our family also freezes many of the fruits we pick in the summer time, so it can be fun to dig into the freezer, defrost and explore those summer treasures with a new purpose!
Step 3: Do a Little Cooking!
Look through some of Haile's recipes. Could you help prepare one for your family? Prepare a fruit or vegetable in a new way. How does it taste? If you like what you've tried, share it with your family and your Tinkergarten friends!
If you selected fruits and juices, try to create different smoothies or blended drinks. Or slice up various fruits and make a happy face, heart or just a sweet design on the plate to showcase the tasty treats in a joyful way.
Step 4: Present your Treat from the Heart with Love.
Put whatever you create on a special plate or in a special glass. Or maybe decorate a bit or put on some special music. Then, welcome a loved one to come and enjoy the healthy, tasty treat your kiddo made just for them. It's bound to delight EVERYONE involved!
Why is this activity great for kids?
Exposing kids to a range of healthy foods, fruits and vegetables can help even the pickiest kids stay curious and open to trying them. Letting kids do the cooking only further boosts their interest and willingness to try foods! Thinking about what another person might enjoy also helps young kids build the foundation for empathy. Finally, when kids learn to connect healthy food choices with love—and get hooked on surprising and delighting others—then, you're really paving pathways for great, joyful and healthy choices down the road! What a gift!
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Curiosity means the ability and habit to apply a sense of wonder and a desire to learn more. Curious people try new things, ask questions, search for answers, relish new information, and make connections, all while actively experiencing and making sense of the world. To us, curiosity is a child’s ticket to engaging fully in learning and, ultimately, in life.
Why does it matter?
As a parent, this skill is, perhaps, the easiest to grasp and has the clearest connection to a young children’s learning. We all want my children to wonder, explore and drive their own learning and, better yet, to experience the world fully. Most teachers would agree that the curious children so often seem more attentive, involved and naturally get the most out of time in school. Even the research suggests that being curious is a driver of higher performance throughout one's life, as much if not more than IQ or test scores.
What is an Active Lifestyle?
At the end of the day, there is nothing more important than our kids’ health. From our perspective, children cannot enjoy good health without an active lifestyle that incorporates regular, physical activity as well as time spent in nature. And, we can only influence how they use their time for a short part of their lives. If we really want to ensure their wellness for the long haul, we need to get our kids hooked on being active outdoors.
Two bits of good news: little kids naturally want to be physically active, and they love to be outdoors. So, the challenge we face is how to make active time outdoors a priority in our lives and how to teach our kids to do the same. Understandably, this is increasingly challenging in a culture that imposes so many schedules and structures around kids time. And it is all the more important when kids spend the majority of their waking hours indoors, staring at a screen, or living in communities in which the green spaces are fewer and more restricted than ever before.
Why does it matter?
Research in the past 25 years has confirmed a link between physical activity that takes place outdoors and positive health outcomes. Also, it has drawn an association between an indoor, sedentary lifestyle and negative health consequences. For young children, time to play, ramble and explore outdoors leads to the most extensive and lasting benefits—more than adult-led, structured outdoor activities like organized sports.
Perhaps the two most common issues in children’s health to which a lack of outdoor, physical activity contribute are childhood obesity and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]). Beyond the millions of overweight children, obesity rates have doubled for children (ages 6-11) and tripled for adolescents (ages 12-19) in just two decades. The number of children diagnosed with and medicated for ADHD continues to rise, and ADHD results in significant impairment to children socially and academically.
Studies have shown that lifestyles learned as children are much more likely to stay with a person into adulthood. For example, 70% of teens who are obese grow up to be obese adults. On the flip side, if physical activities and time spent outdoors are a family priority, they will provide children and parents with a strong foundation for a lifetime of health.
What is Sensory Development?
Although some scientists classify as many as 20 senses, when childhood educators talk about "developing the senses," we typically mean developing the five standard senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. In addition to honing these senses, educators care about sensory integration, which is the ability to take in, sort out, process and make use of information gathered from the world around us via the senses.
Why does it matter?
The better kids are able to tune and integrate their senses, the more they can learn. First, if their senses are sharper, the information kids can gather should be of greater quantity and quality, making their understanding of the world more sophisticated. Further, until the lower levels of the brain can efficiently and accurately sort out information gathered through the senses, the higher levels cannot begin to develop thinking and organization skills kids need to succeed. Senses also have a powerful connection to memory. Children (and adults) often retain new learning when the senses are an active part of the learning.
So, if kids have more sensory experiences, they will learn more, retain better and be better able to think at a higher level. Makes the days they get all wet and dirty in the sandbox seem better, doesn't it?
What is Empathy?
Simply put, empathy is the ability to think and care about the feelings and needs of others. The good news is, the more we study, it appears that children are empathetic by nature. All we need to do is nurture it in them—that of course is now always easy. Even though young children are simply working on gaining control over their emotions and won’t learn to really think about their emotions and the cause and effect of their behavior on others until their school years, they can start to develop the foundation for empathy much earlier. Taking actions (and watching adults take actions) that benefit other people, caring for animals and their environment and even just wondering how other people or creatures are feeling helps build both positive habits and a strong base for the development of empathy.
Why does it matter?
Empathy is at the root of what psychologists call “pro-social” behavior—behavior that people must develop in order to develop a conscience, build close relationships, maintain friendships, and develop strong communities. Empathy also helps kids avoid bullying, one of the most worrisome social challenges young kids face. Being able to think and feel for others can keep kids from becoming either bully or victim and equip them to stand up for others who are bullied. Imagine if all kids had such tools!