Wizard gumballs or brussel sprouts…

At an early age, we learn about the four basic food groups and the importance of eating healthy. This is sometimes forgotten or it falls by the wayside and then one day, you have children. All of a sudden, they become an integral part of our lives again. The problem is, kids would rather you forget like you did before.

If you can relate to children giving you trouble at mealtime, I have a perfect book for you to read with them. I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child is a great book to read when those breakfasts, lunches and dinners you worked so hard to make, get cold as they sit uneaten on the table. It tells the tale of Lola and her picky eating habits. Her clever brother Charlie, creates an imaginative way of turning food into scrumptious treats. Along with some great laughs, the book is filled with lessons and activities to share with your children.

Children look at certain foods with an aversion. Instead of arguing this, make it into a game as Charlie did for Lola. For instance, carrots become orange twiglets from Jupiter and peas morph into green drops from Greenland. Create an alter ego for the meatloaf sitting on your plate. It looks like meatloaf and smells like meatloaf but it is not meatloaf. These pieces are bricks from a space station. When you pile them high, they build a wall that prevents aliens from seeing top-secret space work. Ask them what they see in their “meatloaf”. What else is this color? What is shaped like meatloaf? Children’s imagination reach far beyond an adults. Give them a little push and in no time, they will be off and running.

Visually, this book is very appealing. The illustrations are a combination of drawn characters and photographs of food placed together on the same page. It is an interesting way to create a picture and a great way to challenge your children. Have them do the same thing, using hand drawings combined with actual pictures, taken from photographs or magazines. They can use the book as a reference to help them get started. After completing several pictures, compile them to create a book. If they are having fun with this activity, they can illustrate one of their favorite books, using this combination of mediums or a different combination, such as water colors and permanent marker. Discover what their interpretation is of a book that already exists.

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato is written in a clever style. Lauren Child uses different fonts and sizes and her placement of words changes from page to page. When reading this book, take time to point out these variations to your children. Ask them what they notice about the writing, what is interesting to them and how they might place words on a page in a book. Using a computer document or paper and pencil, show them what the words bold and italics mean. Show them different examples of fonts. Have them write an original book and encourage them to invent their own unique writing style, using these examples or ideas of their own.

This book is centered on the idea of making interesting creations out of food that kids find boring or bland. After reading this, try these activities with your little ones. Join in the fun and see if maybe, some of those wizard gum balls that you thought were brussel sprouts weren’t so bad after all.


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