A Message to Those Who Care for Children:
Children are sure to enjoy a unit on farms and farm animals. Along the way they can learn some basics about protein and calcium foods and be encouraged to develop healthy food habits.
Studies show that even young children are drinking more soda and fruit-flavored drinks and less milk. Unfortunately, it gets worse as children get older. Including dairy products rich in calcium every day is a most important goal for children to grow and stay healthy.
Jill Patterson, Ph.D., Dept. of Nutritional Sciences, Penn State
From Moo to You Storybooks
Milk From Cow to Carton by Aliki (Harper Collins, 1992). Colorful pictures and simple text describe the cow-to-carton process.
The Milk Makers by Gail Gibbons (Simon & Schuster, 1987). Drawings provide detailed information on how cows produce milk, how a milking machine works, and how milk is processed and packaged for stores.
Thanks to Cows by Allan Fowler (Children’s Press, 1992). Clear photographs and text explain how milk from cows becomes food we drink and eat.
What’s for Lunch? Milk by Claire Llewellyn (Franklin Watts, 1998). This book is notable for good photos of cows and equipment in a dairy plant. There are also pictures of foods made from milk such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.
Oliver’s Milk Shake by Vivian French and Alison Bartlett (Scholastic Inc., 2001). Oliver goes to a farm with his aunt to buy the fixings to make a yummy fruity tip top tasty milk shake.
Moo-velous Milk Activities
Most foods we eat come from farms. Have children bring in an empty container or picture of a food item that came from a farm animal or plant; be sure to collect a few of your own. Put all their items in a grocery bag. At circle time, have each child come up and pick an item from the bag. Ask children whether the food item came from a farm animal or plant. Some items may be tricky. Provide help when needed. Once the plant and animal items are sorted, highlight animal products that come from milk by playing this simple game. Hold up one item at a time and tell children to “moo” like a cow if the item is milk or is made from milk. If the item isn’t made from milk, talk about which farm animal provided that product.
Tell children that drinking milk and eating foods made from milk is important for keeping teeth and bones strong and healthy.
Read one of the storybooks listed on page 1 to help children understand dairy farming and the dairy industry. Do listed activities to increase children’s awareness of foods made from milk and to encourage them to eat and taste dairy foods. And of course, snack time is a great time for dairy foods.
Moo-velous Memory Card Game
Download and make a few photocopies of the pictures on this Dairy Foods Cutouts sheet . Cut apart, color, and laminate them for durability. Use the pictures to play Memory. Start with the cards picture-side down. Have each player take a turn flipping two cards over. If they match, the player keeps the cards. If they don’t match, the cards are turned back over and it’s the next player’s turn. Play continues until all the cards are matched.
Dairy Food Pattern Building
Download and make 10 photocopies of the pictures on this Dairy Foods Cutouts sheet . Color if desired, cut apart, and laminate for durability. Help children use the pictures to create simple patterns. You can create the beginning of a pattern and ask a child to see if they can guess the next card in the sequence. Glue magnetic tape to the back of each picture for use on a magnetic board, cookie sheet, or refrigerator. You also can glue the hook side of Velcro to the back for use on a flannel board.
Download and make several copies of on this Dairy Foods Cutouts sheet and cut them apart. Use one set of pictures as the caller’s cards. Have children glue six or nine pictures to a plain sheet of paper as their lotto card. Play as you would a lotto/bingo game. Instruct players to call out “Moo” when their game board is filled. Continue play until everyone has filled their cards.
Parents can help by providing foods made from milk for a taste-testing party. Suggest foods such as cottage cheese, yogurt, pudding, or cheese cubes. You might just have a cheese taste-testing party at snack time. Remember that each child only needs a small amount of each food for tasting. Graph the class’s favorites after tasting.
Egg Taste-Testing Activity
An important nutrient we get from farm animals is protein. Along with regular exercise, protein helps build muscles and keeps us strong. Two sources of high-quality protein are dairy foods and eggs, both from the farm. Read one of the egg books listed below, and then enjoy preparing and tasting foods made from eggs.
Ask families to donate hard-boiled eggs, deviled eggs, red beet eggs, egg salad, or other egg recipes suggested by families. Keep all foods refrigerated before tasting. On the tasting day, prepare scrambled eggs in an electric frying pan. You may want to add some shredded cheese. Again, keep in mind that each child only needs a small amount of each food for tasting. See the Getting Started booklet for hints on taste-testing with children.
Storybooks About Eggs
Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones by Ruth Heller (Penguin Putnam, 1981). This colorful book begins with a reference to eggs from chickens that we eat and then expands to discuss all different animals that lay eggs.
The Egg, A First Discovery Book by Gallinmard Jeunesse and Pascale de Bowgoing (Scholastic Inc., 1989). Clear plastic pages enable children to get a progressive look at the development of a chick inside an egg. Other animals that lay eggs are also pictured, as are different ways to eat eggs. (Remind children that the eggs we eat are not fertilized and do not have chicks growing inside of them.)
This is a fun change from sandwiches. Rollups can be made ahead of time, refrigerated, and then cut up into tot-sized snacks.
- flour tortillas
- cream cheese softened by stirring in a little milk
- chopped, hard-boiled eggs
- shredded cheese
- thinly sliced tomato
- shredded lettuce
- Spread a thin layer of cream cheese.
- Sprinkle desired fillings.
- Roll up tortilla.
- Cut into sections if desired.
Options: Thinly sliced ham or shredded carrots could also be added.
Tortilla Rollup: Makes 3 servings. One-third tortilla provides 110 calories, 6 grams protein, 1 gram fiber, and 7 grams fat.
Food Safety Tip
Be sure eggs are fully cooked before serving. Neglecting to do so could cause sickness. If eggs are prepared with mayonnaise, keep refrigerated until serving and throw away leftovers.
Makes 8 (1/2-cup) servings. One serving provides 100 calories, 4 grams protein, 1 gram fiber, and 1 gram fat.
You will need:
- Measuring cup
- Peel bananas, cut into chunks, and place in blender.
- Add 2 cups of yogurt.
- Add 1/2 cup of milk
- Have a grownup blend mixture until smooth.
- Pour into cups and enjoy!
Note to adult: Be sure to have children wash their hands. You can substitute any fruit or yogurt flavor that children prefer. This is a good time to read Oliver’s Milk Shake; see above.
Family Nutrition News
Tips on raising a milk drinker
- Offer your child milk at every meal. Let her decide how much to drink.
- Be a role model and drink milk yourself.
- Keep milk cold. It tastes better.
- Provide a small measuring cup partially filled with milk as your child’s very own pitcher. If there are spills, they’ll be small ones.
Whole, skim, or choose a percent?
All types of milk, whether whole, skim (fat free), 1%, or 2% have the same amounts of protein, vitamins, and calcium.
All are healthy choices for children older than 2 years. Children 1 to 2 years old should only have whole milk. After their second birthday, children can gradually switch to drinking reduced-fat milk.
The scoop on calcium-fortified foods
It seems like every month there’s another new calcium-fortified product: orange juice, cereal bars, fruit drinks, and more. Are these good sources of calcium? Nutrition experts encourage consumption of calcium through dairy products. This form of calcium is easy for the body to absorb, plus the vitamin D in milk helps the process. However, calcium-fortified foods are a good alternative if your child is allergic to milk protein or lactose intolerant. Get your doctor’s advice before removing dairy products from your child’s diet.
The meat group is important for growing children
This group contains protein foods. It includes meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, and nuts. Offer a variety of meat-group foods that are family favorites. Chopped peanuts in a stir fry, pinto beans in vegetable soup, or hummus on crackers all provide protein. You may need to cook meat a bit longer than you prefer as your child gets used to its texture and taste.
Let your child choose how much meat to eat (or none at all). Remember that young children’s appetites vary from day to day. With time, they develop a taste for most foods.
Can the soda— drink milk instead!
Milk’s many nutrients make it the best choice of beverage for children at every meal. But in an alarming trend, soda and fruit-flavored drinks are replacing milk in the diets of American children. National surveys find that children who are not getting enough calcium are those with the fewest dairy foods in their diets. Vegetables have some calcium, but a child would need to eat 3 to 4 cups of broccoli to get the calcium in 1 cup of milk.
If your child just won’t drink milk….
It’s okay to offer chocolate or strawberry-flavored milk. You can also make your own flavored milk by blending in fresh or frozen strawberries or a fresh banana. Add a couple of ice cubes to be sure it’s cold.
Cut meat into very small pieces for young children. Chunks of beef, hot dog, and whole nuts can cause choking. Never leave your child alone while he or she eats.
Prepared by Jill Patterson, assistant professor of nutrition, Kathy Gorman and Carol Lebold, project specialists, and Julie Haines, assistant director, Nutrition Links Program