|Reviewers Comments: ||The Eat Well Play Hard curriculum is designed for preschool age children and their families. As stated in their opening letter to the educator, “[the curriculum] is intended for use by individuals with a background in nutrition education, preferably registered dietitians. Those without a nutrition background are encouraged to carefully review the references and work closely with a local nutrition professional in implementing the curriculum.”
In addition to the ten lesson plans and related activities, the curriculum includes handouts, references, additional resources, and a handout disc. Each lesson includes three activities. While the curriculum designates all three activities be conducted, the educators may use one or two of the activities depending on their time constraints and other needs. Lessons include an approximate preparation time and activity time, and these may vary depending on the size of the group. The activity time of each activity (and therefore, each lesson) ranges greatly, from 10 to 60 minutes, making it difficult to set aside dedicated time for all of the lessons. It is important educators make note of the estimated lesson and activity time in advance.
The lessons discuss a variety of topics, including the food groups, cooking, snacking, fitness, manners, appetites, and growing vegetables. Some of the information in the lessons may be difficult for children at this age level, depending on their developmental stage. Educators may choose to adapt lessons with difficult concepts (such as comprehension of different vitamins and minerals) accordingly. Adult lessons include a discussion of the Food Stamp Program.
The activities focus on encouraging young children to try new foods, and use some principles from Ellyn Satter. There is some repetition in the lessons and activities, which helps children at this age learn. Some of the lessons use books and DVDs which are available separately. A variety of recipes are included, ranging from extremely child-friendly (Mac and Cheese) to slightly exotic (Portuguese Kale Soup). Recipes do not include nutritional information. When preparing recipes, it is important to be aware of children’s food allergies, and food allergies that may have not been discovered yet. Educators should also be careful with tastings of small food which children can choke on.
Each lesson has parent pages, for children to take home to their parents. Parent pages contain recipes and tips for parents, including how parents can let children help in the preparation food, how to deal with picky eaters, and how to create a fun family mealtime. Recipes for parents have steps in bold where children can be included in the preparation process. The last section of the curriculum includes references and additional resources.
The entire curriculum is available online in individual chapters or as one complete PDF file.