We know the importance of higher intakes of fruit and vegetables being linked to decreased rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes. Yet, increasing numbers of people do not eat the recommended daily amounts of fruit and vegetables to stay healthy. Young children in particular are only eating a limited amount and variety of fruit and vegetables. In Queensland, not quite 4 in 100 children were eating enough. This is of great concern when tastes and preferences of individuals are largely determined during these early years and continue through their lifetime.
Play based learning provides the best vehicle for learning and brain development in young children according to the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia, the national quality curriculum agenda describes principles and practices to enhance learning of children from birth to five years. Modelling the love of books and spending special time together with young children is associated with positive child development strategies. Getting children familiar with sounds, words, language and stimulating imagination helps the child learn about the world around them.
Crafty Foodies was designed during the Country Kitchens program as an alternative to cooking to engage the women who love to handcraft within the QCWA to use their skills to promote healthy eating to children. The books can be created using fabric or paper and can be large or small. The aim is to create a story that can be enjoyed by both adult and child to share learning about growing food, in particular fruit and vegetables. The books are designed to get the child to fill in the words, pausing to let the child speak. Asking questions or enquiring about what they see in the picture and then talking about the sounds that might be relevant to the story, such as a bee buzzing.
After story time, we encourage the child and adult to wander through the garden or to experiment with growing vegetables from seed, to engage in the wonder of plant growth. Allow the child to also help in the kitchen with safe food preparation, to foster a love of cooking.
The central character of each book is the child with the grandparent guiding and helping to: prepare the garden; watering; waiting; harvesting; preparing; and finally eating a healthy meal from the food grown.