Lunch Routines That Rock - WeHaveKids - Family
Updated date:

Lunch Routines That Rock

Joanna is a hands-on teacher, that has spent many years using the following activities. Her methods have kept children from falling behind.

Lunch Routines that Rock


Building Character

As preschool teachers we have the ability to build character in young children. Building character comes through learning how to express one's emotions in a social setting. They learn this ability through intentional-play activities.

Guiding is the Key

Building blocks for an accepting heart, starts with social-emotional skills in the early childhood years. At age two the most challenging skills start to emerge. Most teachers label these skills as bad behavior, or challenging behavior. This is not behavior, its emotions that need guiding in a social setting.

Teaching how to respond emotionally to situations they don't understand is very important at this age. It has lasting affects on the child's well-being.

We as teachers sometimes expect children to have control of their emotions all the time. Even though as adults we can't say we have control of our emotions all the time.

Don't give up

Even though the children in my class are only two, they have great abilities. They need a way to show it to the world. You will be surprised by what happens when you use the following two activities. A word of advice, don't give up. Give it a week. The first week is the testing period, the children will see if you are willing to keep doing it. Once they realize its the new routine, that is not going anywhere, your class will be different.

Social-Emotional Activity #1: Storytelling Wednesday


How I Do Storytelling Wednesday

On every Wednesday, I dress up for storytelling. I use many storytelling methods to teach all of the learning standards. I will go into these methods briefly in this article, because I want to focus on the props and how to use them.

The World of Eric Carle Activity set is one of the best props I had found in years. It only has large pictures of animals. I originally bought this thinking I would use it for coloring pages, but shortly after receiving it that idea changed. I will go into detail on how to use this awesome book.

Good Morning-Circle Time

We will start at the beginning of the the day and work through the morning routine. Use your daily schedule to set this up.

Step 1- Walk into the classroom in costume. The children don't care how it looks, just that you are dressed different. Announce "It's Story Telling Day. Everyone go get dressed up." Help each child put on dress up clothes. (if you don't have enough for the whole class, bring some hats, purses and ect. from home for the day.)

Step One


Step Two

Now go back to the World of Eric Carle Activity Set. This is a spiral top flip book. Very easy to use with one hand. Each page has one large animal on it.

To Use this book: Hold up the book and let the children name as many animals as they can. Then you can go back through and talk about what the animals eat. Later in the day you can find toys that match the animals. You can talk about where the animals live and how they walk.

I even looked up some sign language signs for the different animals and started using them with this book.

Get creative and use it or any book or prop to do the same with.

Use these methods throughout the day and you will complete your learning standards goals. Below is a table of the goals that was accomplished using this method.

Learning Standards for Storytelling

Learning StandardGoal

Approaches to Learning

Explore relationships and the environment independently with purpose

Creative Expression

With guidance and support interact with materials that provide opportunities to develop and express individual ideas, feelings and interest

Language Arts

With guidance and support demonstrate the ability to express thoughts, feelings and needs clearly

Social Awareness

Begin to understand and act upon social cues.


Begin to demonstrate early scientific inquiry skills by questioning, exploring, problem solving, discovery and examining


With guidance and support develop interaction skills and begin to show independence


Social-Emotional Activity #2: Lunch Routine

Are you ready? It's not about control, its about the children making good choices. After I explain this new way of doing lunch, I will tell you what learning standards you just used.

The most important thing to remember in not to tell them to sit down. Instead tell them "lunch is about to be served and those that are at the table will get their plates first." As you put down the plate remind them that their plate needs to be on the table when you come around with the food, or you will skip them. Keep saying this to the children.

Now lets start.

Those that are sitting down give them a empty plate and spoon.

After those sitting have their plates, start serving the food. Name each food as you put it on the plates. If the plate is not right side up and on the table, skip them. After you have made it around the table, look at those you skipped and see if their plate is right. If so give them some food. Then go to the next food item, and do the same thing. Repeat until all the food is handed out and every child has a plate of food.

Remember, don't fight with them about sitting down. They will come to the table on their own and be more willing to sit. Once they see you serving lunch, they will come to the table.

Do not give the milk cup until they are half way through with their lunch. They are still learning a new skill and spilling is going to happen. This keeps them from spilling it on their food or their neighbors food.

Your Turn

This is what makes this routine work, you must sit down at the table and eat what they are eating. Talk about the food you are eating and how good it is. Encourage the children to use their spoons. Some children will need help with this, sit by them and guide them on how to do it, by showing them with your spoon.

When they are halfway done with their lunch, give them their milk in a real cup, not a sippy cup. This is new to them, so do not fill their cups to full or they will spill it on them.

Clean-Up Time

Encourage the children to through their own plates away when they are done eating.

Let them help clean up from lunch. Give them paper towels to wipe the table and chairs with. They will feel so good about themselves and you just gave them a big boost in their self-esteem.

Learning Standards for Lunchtime Routines

Early Learning StandardGoal

Approaches to Learning

To explore relationships and the environment independently with purpose

Language Arts

To demonstrate increasing ability to combine sounds and simple words to express meaning and to communicate


Begin to show an understanding of patterns in the environment

Social Awareness

Begin to understand and act upon social concepts

Physical Development

Develop small muscle strength and coordination of hands & fingers


Continue to learn and accept limits while developing an "I Can do it" attitude

© 2017 Joanna Blackburn

Related Articles


Creating a Toddler Lesson Plan That Works

Tips to running a toddler classroom while keeping structure and order in a room full of one year olds.


Activities for Young Children That Teach Problem Solving

Need some fresh ideas to use in the early childhood classroom or at home that will teach problem solving skills? These normal activities with a twist have been used for years in my classroom, and they work wonders.


5 Circle-Time Activities That Encourage Students to Join

Circle time, also called group time or morning routine, should be a time that is both fun and educational. Here are a few tips to encourage your students to join circle time willingly. I will show you, step-by-step, how I begin each day in the classroom.


50 Features of a High-Quality Preschool That Every Parent Should Know

When choosing a preschool, some parents get impressed by ones that offer academics: a second language, STEM lessons, and handwriting workbooks. However, a long-time teacher says developmentally appropriate practices and free play are what matter most when cultivating independent life-long learners.


5 Common Preschool Activities That Are a Waste of Time and Detrimental to Kids

Calendar, craft projects, teacher-directed lessons, worksheets, and letter of the week are part of the daily routine at preschool. Yet, are they supported by research? A former teacher explains why they're not only a waste of time but can squelch a child's innate curiosity and love of learning.


8 Ways That Preschools Ignore Research in Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education in the US is in a harrowing state as many preschools now do what's contrary to the latest findings in brain research. Even though studies consistently show that exploring and playing build literacy skills, they're getting minimized in favor of teacher-directed lessons.


Problems at Preschool: 5 Red Flags That Parents Need to Know

According to a longtime teacher, parents make a mistake when letting down their guard after choosing a preschool. She explains why they should keep a watchful eye to make sure quality remains high. Because their profit margins are slight, owners always look to keep costs low and this can harm kids.


8 Ways That Parents Irritate Their Child's Preschool Teacher

A longtime educator details the things that moms and dads do that drive preschool teachers insane. From sending their kids to class in fancy duds to expecting special treatment for their precious tykes, these parents' actions exacerbate the sky-high turnover rate in early childhood education.

Healthy Lunches for Preschoolers

Here are some sample menus for easy, healthy preschooler lunches.


10 Warning Signs of a Bad Preschool That All Parents Should Know

When choosing a preschool, some parents get seduced by the very things that they should avoid: an academic focus, computer learning, teacher-directed lessons and paper-pencil work. A longtime educator explains why these indicate poor quality and an ignorance of developmentally appropriate practices.


How to Pick a Preschool for Your Daughter That Isn't Sexist

An early childhood educator explains how sexism at preschool turns girls into observers, not doers. She pinpoints 6 common practices that should make parents wary, including the emphasis on appearance, the promotion of a princess culture, and the excessive use of praise.


33 Reasons to Choose a Play-Based Preschool, Not an Academic One

Parents in the US are enthralled with academic preschools, buying into the belief that earlier is better. However, research shows that play is how kids learn best. It enhances their imaginations, promotes exploration, increases vocabulary, and builds social skills.


How America's Preschools Are Getting Destroyed by a Push-Down Curriculum That Pushes out Play

Research shows young children learn best through play at preschool. But, because of standardized testing and academic rigor, a "push-down" curriculum has replaced exploration, hands-on learning, playing, and pretending. Unwitting parents think this results in smarter kids, but it doesn't.

Preschool Healthy Living Lesson Plan

Preschool Cooking Lesson Plan on Healthy Living

Ms. CeCe's preschoolers explore their five senses while developing listening, math and problem solving skills in this healthy living lesson plan.


How to Teach Color Theory to Preschoolers

Concepts learned at school are learned faster and retained longer when kids actively participate in an activity. Preschoolers excel when presented with an opportunity to physically engage in their learning. The lesson plan outlined below presents a fun, active method of teaching kids primary and secondary colours!