Rising kindergarteners: get ready for the cafeteria!

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Miss Donna presented the second installment of Mint Hill’s Get Set 4 K series to a small audience on Tuesday, June 27.

Many rising kindergarteners may be familiar with eating a parent-packed snack or lunch at preschool, but purchasing a lunch and eating in a cafeteria will be new to most five-year-olds starting kindergarten in the fall.

Portions of Miss Donna’s presentation focused on introducing kids to the idea of visiting the cafeteria. She talked with the children about walking through the cafeteria line, picking up a tray, napkin and fork, and carrying their food themselves.

Children who don’t plan to pack a lunch for school may not have to navigate the cafeteria line, but they will be expected to manage lunch time more independently than they do at home or in preschool. Miss Donna encouraged parents to help their children practice fine motor skills like opening containers and putting the straw in a drink before kindergarten starts in the fall.

Some of the parents who attended were surprised to hear that their children might face choices in the lunch line in the fall. The remainder of Miss Donna’s presentation focused on nutrition and helping kids to make healthy choices.

Miss Donna discussed the different food groups with the children and showed them two short videos on food groups and the food pyramid. She also had nutrition and food-oriented books on display available for checkout.

Miss Donna also emphasized the importance of healthy eating.

Through her own instruction and the videos, Miss Donna emphasized that it’s important to choose foods from a variety of food groups and eat sweet treats like cake, cookies and candy in moderation. The takeaway was that making healthy choices at lunch is important for having the energy necessary to get through the school day.

After Miss Donna’s presentation, the children had a chance to practice moving through the lunch line. They approached a long line of tables Miss Donna had set up at the front of the room and began by picking up a tray. They added a plate, napkin and fork to their tray and then chose paper cutout foods from each food group.

Children went through a pretend lunch line to practice for the fall.

Miss Donna encouraged all the children to go through the lunch line on their own without a parent’s assistance. At the end of the line, each kid chose a juice or milk.

Miss Donna’s students enjoyed their juice and milk boxes while she read Picky Nicky by Cathy East Dubowski, the story of a girl who only eats spaghetti. At the end of the presentation, every child got to choose a book to bring home with him or her. Miss Donna also sent the children home with helpful handouts on the food pyramid, the USDA’s “My Plate” initiative and how to make fun, healthy foods like an apple boat, a cheese robot or a pear bunny.

The next Get Set 4 K presentation will be on Tuesday, July 11 in the Community Room. Visit the library’s web site beginning July 4 to register.

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