Food is a fantastic teaching tool. Children can learn about math, chemistry, nutrition, biology, culture, history — you name it — all while playing with something that’s both tactile and tasty.

And since eating is an everyday activity, food-related exercises help kids explore their environment through a medium that’s fun and familiar. Adults can pass on their values about food, stress the importance of eating wholesomely, and encourage kids to learn to cook dishes they love as well as try something new as part of an edible education. The activity that follows can be adapted for any age group. Enjoy!

The project: Plan an edible scavenger hunt

In this activity that promises to nourish your child’s body and brain, your “garden-variety” gumshoe gathers information about fresh, local produce — and samples some along the way. By hunting down seasonal fruits and veggies at a farmers’ market, she’ll learn to try new ingredients and make connections about food, how it’s grown, and how it’s eaten.

Stress the importance of eating fruits and vegetables in a rainbow of colors to get all the vitamins and minerals needed in a healthy diet. Encourage your child to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

What you’ll need

  • A farmers’ market is an ideal place to play this game, though you could also do it in the produce section of your supermarket.
  • Pen, paper, and a clipboard

Make it happen

You can come up with any questions you like and tailor this game to suit the seasons. Encourage your child to think of questions too.

  • Find a green vegetable you can eat raw. What is it?
  • Look for a purple or blue fruit or vegetable. What is it?
  • Find a red fruit or vegetable you haven’t tasted before. What is it? Try a sample and record whether or not you like it.
  • Look for an orange or yellow food you eat cooked. What is it, and how is it eaten?
  • Search for three fruits you can sample, and taste them. Which do you like best and why?
  • Find something that grows on a vine. Is it eaten raw or cooked?
  • Look for something that grows underground. Is it a fruit or vegetable?
  • Find something that grows on a tree. Which parts do you eat — the seeds, skin, the insides, or all of it?
  • Ask three people if an avocado is a fruit or a vegetable.
  • Find two examples of a stone fruit and taste both. Which do you like more and why?
  • Find three ingredients you could put in a salad.
  • Ask three farmers what their favorite vegetable is, and find out why. Ask them how they like to prepare or cook it too.