BROCCOLI FUN! 8 GREAT BROCCOLI ACTIVITIES
Think back to an unfamiliar food a parent insisted you eat. Tap into that feeling and you’ll remember how scary new foods can be for kids.
Ushering in a new food can be difficult. Sometimes it’s easier to introduce a veggie off the plate than on it. Read a book, watch a video, look at art. Make a costume. Color. Sing. Dance!
Go gently. Be patient. Whet your children’s appetites with fun. Check out these great ideas and choose the ones you think will motivate your kids. No telling what might happen…. But wouldn’t it be great to have your child beg, “Please, Mom! Can we have broccoli tonight?”
1. CREATE A BROCCOLI COSTUME
It’s my great joy to have grownup friends who don’t mind acting like kids! Kevin R. Wood, my co-author for one of my picture books, is a huge broccoli fan. I’m not sure what inspired him to create the costume above. I would guess Halloween, but Kevin teaches primary students and goes to great lengths to make learning fun, so it could have been any random day.
Nothing too elaborate here–a green shirt from a thrift store, green face paint and green tissue paper wrapped around crumpled newspaper to make the broccoli florets, including the one on his head. Green plastic garbage bags would work too, and might be easier to tie on. Take your kids to a thrift shop and the local dollar store to find clothes, toys and other items they could turn into a costume. Grocery stores routinely break down boxes in the early morning, so you might want to ask your favorite grocer to set a produce box aside to complete the costume. Don’t get too precious–just have fun!
2. SHARE A SILLY BROCCOLI BOOK
When it comes to broccoli books, of course the first one that comes to mind is my own! It’s great for little ones, who can help you “read” it with the call-and-response refrain: Each time you read “Fum, foe, fie, fee,” your child will delight in shouting back “Monsters don’t eat broccoli!” Have her practice once or twice, then set her on your lap and let her help you turn the pages.
Monsters don’t eat broccoli…or do they? And if they don’t, what DO they eat? (Hint: certain vehicles and parts of vehicles appear to be favorites.)
In this ode to imagination and vegetables, a group of grinning Godzillas gleefully rampage across the pages to prove just how far their distaste for broccoli stretches. These goofy, toothy monsters will delight even the pickiest of young eaters. Ages 2-6.
(Want a copy for your home? Purchase a signed copy from the Story Queen here.)
3. SHARE A FUNNY BROCCOLI VIDEO
A friend animated a mob of Sue Hendra’s anti-broccoli monsters and set their antics to music. Enjoy!
4. SHARE A FUN, FACT-FILLED BOOK ABOUT BROCCOLI
It’s great for kids to learn exactly how different veggies help their bodies grow strong and stay healthy. Here’s a book that teaches them just what broccoli can do for them–in a fun, appealing way.
Brocc O’Li by Heather Garcia (2011)
Combine a green superhero and nutritional facts about broccoli and what do you get? Brocc O’Li! He has more vitamin C than an orange. He’s low in carbohydrates and fats. He’s an all around super vegetable! Do you want to fight bad eating habits and promote good health? Then join up with the green crusader in Brocc O’Li!
A great read-aloud for little ones, who will enjoy the storyline and bright illustrations. Older kids can read for themselves how broccoli helps the body. Ages 3-7.
5. TALK ABOUT BROCCOLI ART
August Macke (1887-1914) grew up in Bonn, Germany. His painting style was influenced by the French Impressionist painters, who were more interested in the effects of light and color than they were in details. They wanted to express feelings and moods, not just reproduce exact copies of things. August liked that idea.
August’s mother came from a farming family. Perhaps a visit to his grandparents’ farm inspired this painting, “Vegetable Fields.” It’s an example of a style of painting called German Expressionism.
Have your kids observe the painting. Tell them about the artist. Ask questions: What feeling do you think the artist was trying to express? How does the painting make you feel? What vegetables are detailed enough that you can identify them? What might some of the other less detailed vegetables be? (Broccoli often has a purple cast when it’s ripening in the field, and my guess is that the rows of purplish plants on the right are broccoli.)
6. MAKE ART WITH BROCCOLI
I found this broccoli-print activity at a British “mommy blog” called The Imagination Tree. Simply slice a stalk of broccoli lengthwise (or several stalks, if you’re working with a group of kids), pour poster paint into shallow dishes, and have your child dip the broccoli in the paint and press it onto a sheet of paper. Try different colors of paint and paper for different effects.
All kinds of vegetables can be used for printing, but broccoli is perfect for creating a tree to which your child can add blossoms or leaves. Maybe she’ll want to print an entire forest!
7. GET OUT THE CRAYONS
Download and print the coloring pages below by clicking on the images. (One is a stalk of broccoli, the other a stalk of broccolini–a hybrid variety with longer, thinner stalks and a milder flavor.) Print one for you and one for each of your kids and color together. Share some fun facts about broccoli as you play.
8. A BROCCOLI SING-ALONG DANCE-A-THON
No explanation needed! These singer/dancers are having pure fun. Watch, listen, laugh–and join in!
Eat well and have fun!
Barbara Jean the Story Queen
Photos and videos used with permission: Broccoli man, Kevin R. Wood. Monster-romp video, Cecilia Olivera-Hillway. Via creativecommons.org: August Macke painting, wikimedia; coloring pages, pixabay.com; Veggie Beats video, youtube. Book cover images from amazon.com.
First, a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not a chef. I’m not even a mom. What I know about healthy food and healthy eating I’ve learned by reading and doing, just like you.
What I am is a children’s book author. A Story Queen! My area of expertise is FUN. In the last dozen years, I’ve written a number of entertaining, award-winning picture books–about monsters, cats, Disney princesses–and veggies, of all things.
I’m big on imagination. Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli encourages kids (the way my dad encouraged my siblings and me) to think of broccoli as crunchy, munchy, fun-to-eat trees. Once Upon a Parsnip is a fairytale rematch between Little Red Riding Hood (a vegetarian) and the Big Bad Wolf (NOT a vegetarian). Scary fun!
On the surface, neither of my veggie books is really about healthy eating–they’re just plain fun. But the fun is subversive: both books introduce and normalize the idea of eating healthy, fresh-from-the-garden vegetables. (Never underestimate the power of fun to get your kids to try something new!)
My goal in these pages is to find and share fun ways to introduce fresh fruits and vegetables to children and to normalize healthy foods and healthy eating in their experience. My means is to expose them–through you, their parents and caregivers–to food-friendly books, videos, downloadable and printable posters and coloring pages, hands-on activities and kid-friendly recipes. Anything that equates healthy food and FUN!
I’m here for you–to help you make healthy eating feel as natural to your children as breathing.
Because healthy food and healthy fun make healthy kids. And that’s something all of us can get behind.
Barbara Jean Hicks, a.k.a. “The Story Queen”
To purchase signed, personalized copies of my picture books, visit the “Books” page on my website. To contact me about my well regarded young author presentations for schools, or for other enquiries, send an email from the “Contact” page at barbarajeanhicks.com. I look forward to hearing from you!