Tag Archive for: healthy eating

Microgreens: A Fun Food Growing Activity for Under-Fives

Microgreens: A Fun Food Growing Activity for Under-Fives

Microgreens can be grown in trays, egg cartons, used yoghurt pots or any shallow pot or dish that has drainage.As promised in our recent Educational Food Growing post for kids, we’ve got another wonderful food-growing activity for children today. Whether you have a toddler, preschooler or older child, they’ll love this activity and it also has a huge range of benefits. It is a fun, educational, easy and inexpensive activity that gives children an enormous feeling of achievement. It also results in the miraculous growth of delicious food that children and the whole household can eat! What’s not to love, therefore, about our growing microgreens activity! Today, we explain just how easy it is.

First: What Are Microgreens?

Children can get really creative with what they sow their microgreen seeds in!Microgreens, also known as micro leaves, are the young shoots of growing plants that are edible. Examples include the seedlings of herbs like basil and coriander, red cabbage micro leaves and the shoots from root vegetables like beetroot. When growing, the seedlings form a thick and rich ‘carpet’ of shoots that, when ready, can be snipped off en masse and used in meals as salads or garnishes. What’s more, they’re delicious, highly nutritious and make meals look amazing. The entire activity can also be accomplished indoors in any home. You do not need to have a garden because a well-lit windowsill or counter top will more than suffice.

Growing Microgreens is a fun, educational, easy and inexpensive activity that gives children an enormous feeling of achievement. It also results in delicious food that children and the whole household can eat!

Additional Benefits of Children Growing Microgreens

Getting children directly involved in growing microgreens can also encourage them to try new foods, enjoy new flavours and to get much needed vitamins and minerals at the critical time when they are developing. Teaching them to grow food will also teach them a huge number of lessons, for example about nature, the circle of life, how to care for another living thing responsibly, where food comes from and even meal preparation, nutrition and balancing diets. Growing microgreens is a doorway to all of this and more, yet is so simple as an activity.


There is a huge variety of different microgreens

What You’ll Need to Start Growing Microgreens

You/your child will need a few things to get started in the growing activity:

  • Microgreen seeds in a seed tray being sprayed gently with water.Microgreen seeds. These are available inexpensively online or at places like garden centres and even some supermarkets. You can buy microgreen mixed seeds or choose seeds for rocket, beetroot, spinach, red cabbage, fennel, broccoli, radish or mustard. Each has a distinctive look, when growing, and flavour, when eaten. Read the packets for more detail or just have fun and experiment!
  • One or more shallow seed trays – also available inexpensively from garden centres or online. Alternatively, you can use any shallow tray left over from a ready meal, or use used yoghurt pots, egg cartons, cut down kitchen roll ‘cores’ or similar. Whatever you use will need to have drainage holes underneath, so parents will need to help any piercing, for safety purposes.
  • As the main pots or tray require drainage holes, you will need another tray, cut-down pot or saucer to catch drips underneath. This is known as a drip tray and simply protects your surface from moisture.
  • Lastly, you’ll need some light soil to sow the seeds in. This can be from the garden if you have one and are on a low budget (sieve first), or buy peat-free compost. Multi-purpose compost or a compost specifically for seeds and cuttings will be perfect. If you’re on a really low budget, another alternative is to simply sow microgreens directly onto layers of dampened tissue paper e.g. horizontal sheets torn from a kitchen towel.

That’s all you and your little one need, apart from water, natural light and some care and patience.

What to Do

Once you’ve got the above items together, your child can take the following steps:

Step 1: Fill the seed tray, pots or cartons almost to the top with compost or whatever is being used as ‘soil’ (see the tissue option above if the budget is low).
Step 2: If using soil or compost, this needs to be tamped down gently to flatten and level the surface.
Step 3: The microgreen seeds can now be sprinkled lightly and evenly (best done from a little bit of a height), or manually spaced if your child enjoys that alternative approach. Clumping should be avoided.
Step 4: A light sprinkling of additional compost (or sieved soil) can then go on top to keep seeds in place. It may be best to do this outdoors.
Step 5: An additional layer of kitchen towel or tissue can be placed on top of the seeds, but only until the seeds start to germinate later on.
Step 6: Lightly sprinkle water or spray the seeds gently with a water spray, taking care not to disturb or wash away the seeds.
Step 7: Place the trays or pots, with their drip trays underneath, onto a well-lit windowsill or counter top. A little ventilation will also not be a bad thing for the seeds.
Step 8: Your child will need to check that the seeds/soil/tissue are damp each day and watered lightly to ensure they don’t dry out. Watering can either be done from above (ideally using a mister or water spray so as to not disturb the seeds) or from below by simply pouring water into the drip trays. This will be slowly drawn up into the soil naturally, particularly if it’s not too deep.
Step 9: As soon as shoots begin to appear, your child should remove any covering (from Step 5), taking care not to disturb the seedlings, and continue to water lightly each day as the seedlings grow.

TIP: Don’t forget to get your child to wash their hands after touching soil and seeds etc.

Harvest Time!

For young children in particular, snipping them off is best done by parents, to avoid injury.Different microgreen seeds grow at different rates but usually a dense carpet of growing shoots and tiny leaves will cover the trays or pots within one or two weeks. Generally speaking, when you can see small, immature leaves at the top of shoots about 1 to 1¼ inches tall, they are about ready to be harvested. For young children in particular, snipping them off is best done by parents, to avoid injury. The carpet of microgreens can be snipped off, using scissors, low down near where the shoots begin. It’s best to snip them off rather than to pull them up by the roots because then they have the chance to regrow and give you/your child a second crop later on. The microgreens can then be washed in a fine colander, under a cold tap, to remove any remnants of soil.

And Eat!

Microgreens make wonderful garnishes, are lovely in salads and sandwiches and can also be added to soup, risotto, pasta, baked potatoes and burgers.Your child can then continue the fun by helping with meal preparation (with adult supervision for safety). Microgreens make wonderful garnishes, are lovely in salads and sandwiches and can also be added to things like soup, risotto, pasta, baked potatoes and burgers. They are incredibly attractive to look at, jazzing up any meal and also giving children extra nutrients to consume. They are also a great way to encourage children to try new tastes and food textures.

By growing microgreens themselves, children will have had great fun and will have learned so much along the way. It’s a fabulous and educational activity, any time of year!

A Place for your Child at our Outstanding Nursery & Pre-School in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare providerLittle Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Are you searching for outstanding nurseries or pre-schools in Clayton-le-Woods (PR6), Chorley, or near to Clayton Green and Clayton Brook in Central Lancashire?

Little Acorns is in Clayton-le-Woods and is rated by Ofsted as an outstanding nursery. It is also an award-winning nursery, having won an important National award. Our childcare service is simply unrivalled in the area.  So, if you’d like your child to experience the very best childcare, register for a nursery place at Little Acorns Nursery. You can also request a guided tour or ask any questions using the buttons below. We look forward to hearing from you.

Healthy Eating for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is incredibly important for under-fives as they're still growing & developing.Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important at any age. However, during their formative years when they’re still growing, it’s even more important for under-fives. Their young bodies and brains are still developing, so getting the right balance of food types, vitamins and nutrients is essential in order to maintain optimum health, cognitive function and even sufficient energy levels. (Regular exercise is also essential, of course – however, we’ll cover that separately in a future post).

The Benefits of a Healthy Diet

The benefits of maintaining a healthy eating regime are far-reaching and important, especially for young children. At this age, it’s important for them to get into good eating habits rather than bad ones. So, setting them on the right path at an early age is essential. As well as feeding their bodies and brains with everything they need to properly develop, some of the significant benefits of healthy eating include:

  • Improved cognitive function and attention, with all the leaning benefits that these will bring;
  • Sufficient energy levels to undertake all their daily tasks;
  • A greater chance of avoiding certain diseases in later life, potentially including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems and even cancer;
  • Maintaining more even moods;
  • Maintaining a more healthy body weight and, through so doing, avoiding potential obesity. Avoiding becoming obese also leaves them less prone to bullying;
  • A greater sense of self-image and self-esteem, leading to greater self-confidence;
  • Overall, improved mental and physical wellbeing.

Children who stay a healthy weight tend to be fitter, healthier, better able to learn, and more self-confident.That’s a huge and important list of benefits. Advice from Public Health England also suggests that exposing children to a wide variety of different foods from an early age not only gives them access to greater diversity in what they eat, but is also likely to make children more accepting of new foods as they grow older. And, of course, that greater diversity in food types means a more diverse range of nutrients, vitamins and minerals will be consumed.

“Children who stay a healthy weight tend to be fitter, healthier, better able to learn, and more self-confident.” (NHS)

What Should Under-Fives Eat & Drink?

A good rule of thumb for under-fives is to consume three meals, 2-3 healthy snacks and 6-8 drinks every day. It all needs to be part of a balanced diet, though, using high quality and ideally fresh ingredients if possible.


Aside from young babies who will, of course, be drinking milk (we’ll write separate posts about milk and weaning in due course), under-fives and preschoolers should be drinking water and sometimes milk, 6-8 times each day. Drinks rich in added sugar should be avoided and even natural fruit juice, if given, is better when significantly diluted. That’s primarily so as to avoid tooth decay that can otherwise be caused by the natural sugars and acids within the fruit juice.


Children should try to eat something from each of the four main food groups every day.As part of a healthy diet, children should try to eat something from each of the four main food groups every day. These are:

  1. Fruit & vegetables, which contain many beneficial nutrients, for example Vitamin C. Aim for 5 portions per day, each about the size of the child’s cupped hand or fist. If your child is still hungry after eating their set meals, giving them additional vegetables is a great way to satiate their hunger without loading them up with unnecessary calories or sugar.
  2. Protein, which contains not only essential protein but also iron, zinc and many other nutrients. Sources of protein include fish (N.B. include oily fish occasionally), meat, eggs, nuts, pulses, tofu and soya. Aim at 2 protein portions per day, with each portion being about the size of the palm of the child’s hand.
  3. Starch, which is available from potatoes, pasta, bread and rice cereals. Where wholegrain versions of some of these are preferred, they should be introduced only gradually. One portion of these starchy foods is about the size of the child’s cupped hand. Starch gives growing children energy along with essential nutrients like calcium and Vitamin B.
  4. At Little Acorns we are serious about playing our part and serve up healthy, balanced meals each day to our children along with suitable drinks and healthy snack options.Dairy products, which give children much-needed calcium, Vitamins A and B, potassium and more. Aim for 3 portions of dairy products per day. Examples include milk, yoghurt and cheese. Use full-fat options for toddlers and then, from the age of 2, switch to semi-skimmed varieties.

The NHS also recommends that children aged 6 months to 5 years should also take suitable vitamin supplements to boost Vitamin A, C and D in particular. Children with vegan diets would also benefit from a Vitamin B12 supplement.

Healthy Eating at Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

With almost a third of UK children aged 2 to 15 now being overweight, eating a healthy, balanced diet is becoming more and more important. Parents, carers, schools, childcare professionals and nurseries all need to play their part in keeping children on track, with healthy eating habits and lifestyles.

Little Acorns has received a Recipe 4 Health Award in recognition of the healthy food options offered at the settingAt Little Acorns we are serious about playing our part and serve up healthy, balanced meals each day to our children along with suitable drinks and healthy snack options. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon and teatime snacks are all provided and included in our standard nursery fees. Food is prepared each day by Judy, our wonderful in-house chef, using the highest quality, fresh ingredients, sourced from local suppliers. Food allergens are extremely carefully monitored and managed. Any special diets, e.g. vegan or vegetarian, are also catered for as needed — simply forewarn us about any specific requirements and we’ll be happy to accommodate them.

Our nursery has a 5 Star food hygiene ratingLittle Acorns Nursery has a 5 Star Food Hygiene rating and also recently received a Recipe 4 Health Award in recognition of the healthy food options that we offer at the setting. That’s in addition to our amazing NMT Individual Nursery Award.

A Nursery Place in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Lancashire

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, ChorleyIf you’d like a nursery place for your child in a multi award-winning nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, near Clayton Green and Clayton Brook, Chorley, do get in touch. Little Acorns is an Outstanding Nursery and is also a wonderful Forest School. So, if you’d like your little one to attend the very best nursery in Central Lancashire, register your interest while nursery places are available. Select an option below:

Arrange a Nursery Visit Send Us a Message Call: 01772 696 288