Turn ripe and unripe bananas into a science experiment.

Activities for Preschoolers Using Bananas

by Stacy Zeiger

Since your preschooler already acts like a monkey, why not introduce some fun activities with a monkey's favorite food -- bananas! Not only is a banana a healthy treat to simply peel and eat, but you can also incorporate them into some of your favorite recipes and dishes -- or build recipes around them. You can use them to teach your kids important concepts as well.

1. Kitchen Activities

You probably have no trouble getting your child to eat a banana, but it never hurts to spice things up a bit. Let your preschooler work on her eye/hand coordination by encouraging her to build a banana skyscraper. Have her spread peanut butter on banana chunks and stack them tall. She can also start developing some kitchen skills by creating a cool summer treat by dipping bananas in chocolate and sprinkles, then putting them in the freezer for a few hours. For those extra ripe bananas your child normally won't touch, let her mash them up and add them to your favorite banana bread recipe.

2. Math Activities

You probably never thought of using a banana to teach math, but its unique shape makes it a good tool for learning to measure different objects. Your child can measure the length of the banana using a cloth measuring tape. Once he measures the banana, you can use the measurement to explain the concept of dividing it into halves, thirds and quarters. Help your child cut bananas with a plastic knife -- and then try to put them back together again -- to explain the basics of fractions.

3. Science Activities

You probably know from experience that if you leave a banana unpeeled, it quickly turns from a tasty fruit to an unappealing brown lump. Turn this process into a lesson in oxidation, explaining to your child that certain chemicals in the banana react with the oxygen in the air, causing a banana to turn brown. Cut the banana into slices, dip half in lemon juice and leave half untouched -- and see if the different slices turn brown at the same rate, noting that the lemon juice can slow down oxidation. You can also compare the appearance and taste of unripe, ripe and overripe bananas. Does your child like them best when the peel is a little green or covered with brown spots?

4. Just for Fun

One of the reasons there are so many kids' songs featuring bananas is because bananas are just a lot of fun. Let your preschooler play with her food and make funny faces, using a banana as the mouth -- and other fruits and vegetables for other facial features. Challenge your child to a banana-peeling contest and race to see which one of you can peel a banana the fastest. Of course, you can always just pretend to be monkeys, too -- and enjoy a banana as a snack.

About the Author

Stacy Zeiger began writing in 2000 for "Suburban News Publication" in Ohio and has expanded to teaching writing as an eighth grade English teacher. Zeiger completed creative writing course work at Miami University and holds a B.A. in English and a M.Ed. in secondary education from Ohio State.

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