Gardening teaches preschoolers about food
Thanks to a program organized by Mississippi State University, preschool children learn about where food comes from.
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Making trips to the school gardens helps the children stay active and learn the importance of being outside in the fresh air, but there are more activities that help get them moving.Skip to next paragraph
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"We choose kid-friendly songs and games such as the 'Hokey Pokey' and 'Farmer in the Dell' to encourage physical activity," says Diane Tidwell, associate professor in the MSU Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion. "They learn about the importance of physical activity and increasing their heart rates while having fun."
Teachers and parents also benefit from the program.
"Children bring lessons home to their parents. When they have the terminology, they can ask for healthy alternatives for snacks and meals," Briley says. "We are in the process of developing a parent component for the program to help them become more involved in what their children are learning."
Trader said the children are becoming more aware of the botanical world and are expressing interest in gardening with their families.
"After getting some exposure in the garden, students start noticing gardens outside the school environment," Trader says. "We've had students who now talk about helping in their grandmothers' gardens. It is really nice to see how these lessons carry over."
The staff at Emerson has embraced the lessons taught in the program and plans to continue it after the pilot project ends.
"This program has been a real plus for us because the kids enjoy it and they have all learned so much," says Susan Fulgham, preschool coordinator at Emerson. "The MSU faculty and students involved in the project have provided us with the information and tools to incorporate the program's lessons into our preschoolers' regular curriculum."
Trader says the goal is to expand the program to more schools across the state.
"We applied for a grant that will give us the resources to start new programs," Trader says. "The more opportunities we have to increase children's understanding of healthy lifestyles, the better chance we have at curbing obesity and unhealthy behaviors."
Editor’s note: For more on gardening, see the Monitor’s main gardening page, which offers articles on many gardening topics. Also, check out our blog archive and our RSS feed. You may want to visit Gardening With the Monitor on Flickr. Take part in the discussions and get answers to your gardening questions. If you join the group (it’s free), you can upload your garden photos and enter our contests.