Summer is finally here! The kids are out of school and the fun begins- at least that’s how the kiddos see it. For parents, this can be a time where creativity is a must. From what camps to enroll in, to what road trip to take (click here for Road Trip Snack Hacks!) to how to keep them occupied when it’s 100 degrees outside- summer requires a lot of attention to detail! Whether you’re planning ahead or the struggle is already real, here are 5 healthy and fun activities that will keep the kiddos busy and also increase their fruit and vegetable intake!
1. Set up a DIY popsicle making station! All you need is plastic popsicle molds (or Dixie cups with popsicle sticks) and a variety of fresh fruit and juice. You can also elevate the popsicles with fresh herbs or make them creamy with Greek yogurt. Try these fun combos:
- Chopped CrunchPak apples + sliced strawberries + orange juice
- Blueberries + raspberries + lemonade
- Sliced kiwis + sliced strawberries + limeade
Exact recipes aren’t even needed; just make sure there’s enough liquid that the pops will freeze and let the kids be creative!
2. Ants in a log party, anybody? As much as most kiddos love traditional ants on a log, there’s countless fun and nourishing varieties that kids can enjoy making and eating. Consider setting up a table with 3 stations:
- a.) Pre-washed and cut celery stalks
- b.) Variety of spreads: peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter, cream cheese, Greek yogurt spread, or hummus
- c.) Topping options: chopped apples, raisins, yogurt covered raisins, chocolate chips, or pretzels
Let the kids fill up their celery boat however they choose and encourage them to try at least one new ingredient!
3. Set up a picture and necklace craft station with some of your household pantry staples like dried cereal, beans and dried pasta. All you need is a vinyl tablecloth, some construction paper, string or yarn, either glue or paint and the cereal and pasta! Kids can make their own picture or even picture frame (just cut a square out of the center of the construction paper) or create necklaces and bracelets by threading cereal Os and pasta noodles on yarn or string. It’s amazing how long this can keep kiddos occupied for!
4. Have a nice cream celebration! In case you haven’t heard of the latest and greatest ice cream trend, “nice cream”; it’s a homemade blend of frozen bananas plus other ingredients, you can whip up in your high-speed blender. It has a very similar texture to actual ice cream, but is way better for you. Plus, it takes much less time than making actual homemade ice cream (although that could be fun too).
Here are your simple instructions for a fun and successful nice cream experience:
- Grab your high-speed blender or food processor.
- The most basic of recipes is simple taking 2 peeled frozen bananas and blending until smooth and creamy.
- Have some fun toppings or mix-ins to choose from! Nut butters, chocolate chips, and other frozen fruit are all great ingredients to blend in the nice cream. Setting up a topping bar adds another layer of fun. Try more fresh fruit like chopped apples, chopped nuts or even pretzels.
Not only is this a much healthier option than visiting the ice cream (or even Fro-yo) shop, it’s much cheaper!
5. Plan a kid-friendly taste test! This is one of my favorite things to do with the picky eaters I work with. One of the keys to helping kids overcome the fear of trying new foods is pairing unfamiliar foods with some of their favorites. This can turn into a fun game and there’s less pressure than trying something new at the dinner table during a meal.
- Pick 3-5 of your kiddos favorite foods. This can be anything from their favorite packaged snacks, yogurts, fruit, vegetables, cheese, etc.
- Let your child give input on what 3-5 new foods they’d like to try- even if it’s something strange like a sauce or condiment that doesn’t make sense to you; let them pick a few items that interest them.
- Start by trying a favorite food and then alternate between the two. Talk about the experience- what the new food looks like, smells like, feels like and tastes like.
Offer reassurance that it’s okay if all the new foods aren’t liked- it’s just meant to be a fun activity that allows them to explore new food options!