COCONUT FUN! 8 COCO-NUTTY ACTIVITIES
Since everything is new when you’re a kid, pretty much every food is unfamiliar. And introducing kids to unfamiliar foods isn’t always easy.
Children warm up to new foods slowly. Sometimes it takes 15 or 20 or dozens of times for a child to be presented with a food before he learns to eat it. (Check out the Ellyn Satter Institute for more information.) Making the introduction to an unfamiliar food fun instead of a forced feeding can make it easier. How to do that? Many ways! Read a book. Download and print a coloring page. Share a hands-on activity. Sing a song. Watch a video that introduces the food in a silly way.
Here are several fun ways to introduce kids to coconuts:
1. PRINT A COCONUT COLORING PAGE
Download the coloring page for the tropical scene above by clicking on the image. Print one for you and your kids, and color together! Talk about where and how coconuts grow. Share a few Fun Facts while you’re coloring.
2. SHARE A COCO-NUTTY BOOK
Of course as a children’s book author, I always place books near the top of my list as a way to introduce a new topic to kids. Here are a couple of great books for preschoolers and one for older elementary school kids featuring fun takes on coconuts:
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert (1989)
Your kids will love to chant the wacky, rhythmic refrain of this well-loved ABC book, probably (warning!) at the top of their lungs: “Chicka Chicka . . . BOOM! BOOM!” The story begins when A tells B and B tells C, “I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.” Everything’s fine as each of the letters of the alphabet charge up the coconut tree–until X, Y and Z prove too heavy for its branches, and down they all tumble in a chaos of color. Ehlerts’s bright cut-paper illustrations help make the madcap parade of letters unforgettable. Skit skat skoodle doot–this book is fun in spades! Ages 2-6.
A Coconut Named Bob by Austin Weaver, illustrated by Don Robinson (2012)
Does your child have a favorite toy that is more like a friend than a plaything? If so, he’ll surely relate to this tale of a boy and his best pal, a coconut named Bob. The two are inseparable until one stormy day when Bob is washed overboard from the boat in which they are sailing. The book is a unique and heartwarming story with a timeless message about loyalty, love, the passage of time and the possibility that all living things are connected. The ending? Unexpected and very satisfying! An interesting note that older kids especially will love: Weaver wrote this book when he was just thirteen years old. Ages 2-6.
“The Story of Sinbad the Voyager: The Fifth Voyage”
from The Arabian Nights, edited by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora A. Smith, illustrated by Maxfield Parrish (1909)
Older elementary kids will enjoy this classic tale of the Middle Eastern adventurer otherwise known as “Sinbad the Sailor,” in which he learns to harvest coconuts by throwing rocks at the apes in the trees–who, in response, angrily throw the hard fruit back at him. The first English language edition of The Arabian Nights, in which the Sinbad cycle first appears, was published in 1706. The work originally titled One Thousand and One Nights was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators, and scholars across West, Central, and South Asia and North Africa and appears in many versions. I found a 1993 reprint of this edition at my local library; look for it–the Maxfield Parrish illustrations are gorgeous. If you can’t find the story of Sinbad’s Fifth Voyage, you can read an ebook version here. Ages 8-adult.
3. DO SOMETHING WILD WITH COCONUTS!
I found a number of fun, coconut-related activities to do with little ones at Mary Catherine’s fun-a-day.com–from instructions for coconut eruptions and coconut bowling to a recipe for coconut cloud dough. Fun for one, more fun with a group of kids to do together. Check the website for how-to’s and pictures.
4. WATCH A CRAZY COCONUT VIDEO
Maybe you’re too young to remember the 1971 hit Coconut by Harry Nilsson, but you might have caught the 2008 upload of the tune to Youtube, wonderfully rendered by Kermit the Frog in Episode 410 of the Muppet Show (1979). Crazy! Gather the kids around and view it here. They’ll be wanting limes in their coconuts–and considering the nutrients they’ll get from both, that’s not a bad thing!
Eat well and have fun!
Barbara Jean the Story Queen
Photos used with permission: Postcard coloring page, coredump via openclipart.org. Kermit, Kevin Galens via Creative Commons. Book cover images from amazon.com.
ABOUT THE STORY QUEEN
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!