Award winning programs that help early childhood educators foster enthusiasm for healthy foods and active play in young children.

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Early Sprouts Cookbook available to complement curriculum

The Early Sprouts cookbookThe Early Sprouts Cookbook is packed with more than seventy child-tested and child-approved recipes that contribute to well-rounded diets for children and families. These recipes incorporate vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and other nutrient-rich ingredients into preschoolers’ meals—each aligning with MyPlate Nutrition Guide.


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Free chapter of Early Sprouts book

Copy of Copy of Copy of Active PlayEvery Day-5We're celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Early Sprouts program by sharing a favorite chapter of the acclaimed Early Sprouts curriculum book with all subscribers.


You'll find timely and useful information about the gardening approach in early learning, including: 

  • Indoor and container gardens
  • Herb gardens
  • Designing play yard vegetable gardens
  • Garden maintenance
  • Cover crops
  • Composting 
  • Budgeting and funding   

Enjoy and happy gardening!

Healthy Classroom Celebrations in Early Learning


Healthy Classroom Celebrations



In it you'll find:

  • How young children are influenced by the treats served for parties.
  • Three healthy approaches to celebration foods.
  • A recipe for Butternut Squash Cake from the Early Sprouts curriculum you can try at your next event!

Happy celebrating!

Earn 10 professional development hours with the Early Sprouts online self-study course

Early Sprouts Online CoursesEarly childhood educators in many states (see list below) can now earn up to 10 professional development hours by successfully completing the Early Sprouts Online Course. Approvals from other states are in process. If your state is not listed below, check with your state’s child licensing bureau to see if online training courses can be used for professional development without prior approval.


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Curriculum Components

Children harvesting

Six target vegetables, appropriate to the climate, are the focus of exploration and discovery through Early Sprouts. These children are growing tomatoes, green beans, bell peppers, Swiss chard, carrots, and butternut squash.

The curriculum is built on the following four components:

1. Organic gardening

Planting seeds, watching them grow, and harvesting vegetables helps set the stage for children to understand the source of the foods they eat.

Note: If space for a garden isn’t available, many of the benefits of the curriculum can still be achieved through the other activities.

2. Sensory exploration

Young children learn through their senses and through movement. By sensory exploration we mean intentionally and activity using all of our senses to experience a food. In this way, Early Sprouts contributes to young children’s brain growth and development.

3. Cooking and recipe development

Children are more willing to taste a new food when they have touched, smelled, and explored it, and they are more apt to eat what they have created. Early Sprouts recipes were specifically developed to reflect healthy nutritional principles and contain affordable ingredients. They feature simple directions that maximize children’s ability to be involved in cooking.

4. Family Involvement

Families are encouraged to cook with their children to reinforce the classroom experience, and Family Recipe Kits are designed to make it easier. Children help pack their own recipe kits with key ingredients, along with detailed instructions for preparing recipes at home. 


CurriculumEarly Sprouts is a research-based nutrition curriculum that encourages preschoolers to eat more vegetables by growing, harvesting, and preparing organically grown foods.

Early Sprouts book cover

Over a course of 24 weeks, the curriculum cultivates healthy change by:

  • Increasing young children’s preferences for wholesome foods
  • Promoting healthy eating at school and home
  • Reducing the risks and issues associated with childhood obesity

Six target vegetables are the focus of the exploration and discovery in each of four components. Read more.

  1. Organic gardening
  2. Sensory exploration
  3. Cooking and recipe development
  4. Family involvement

The complete curriculum guide is published in the Early Sprouts book, available from major booksellers. Additional recipes are available in the Early Sprouts Cookbook.

Illinois approves trainings for professional development hours

Early Sprouts - Active Play Every DayGreat news for early childhood educators in Illinois who are committed to fostering good health: all of Early Sprouts Institute's online trainings are now pre-approved for profesional development hours.


It's not too late to take advantage of the introductory discount for the Active Play Every Day training. Earn 6.5 hours and be prepared to integrate physical activity throughout the preschool day for just $19.50 (save 40%).


The popular Growing Healthy Eaters online training is also pre-approved for 7 hours, and 10 hours can be earned by completing the training for the award-winning Early Sprouts curriculum.


Active Play Every Day Training

Growing Healthy Eaters Training

Early Sprouts Training


Early Sprouts has been recognized by the U.S. Surgeon General, the National Gardening Association, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


The U.S. Surgeon General bestowed a Community Champion Award to the Early Sprouts program for its “commitment to building partnerships and implementing programs to help kids stay active, encourage kids’ healthy eating habits, and promote healthy choices.” In presenting the award, acting Surgeon General Dr. Steve Galson said, “Early Sprouts is a low-cost way to teach youngsters the benefits of proper nutrition and how to grow their own food.”

The National Gardening Association recognized the Early Sprouts program with its Healthy Sprouts Award for being a program through which youth develop skills necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle compatible with environmental stewardship and gain an understanding of how their actions can positively impact the wellbeing of their community.

The Mary Abbott Hess Award was awarded to the Early Sprouts program by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for Recognition of an Innovative Food/Culinary Effort recognizes excellence in innovative and unique models for dietetics information and/or innovative services for delivery of nutrition education to the public.



Karrie KalichEarly Sprouts began as the brainchild of Dr. Karrie Kalich, a registered dietitian and a health science and nutrition professor at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire.

In 2005, Karrie approached the Keene State College Child Development Center about the possibility of piloting a project. In the spring of 2006, the seeds for Early Sprouts were planted, both literally and figuratively. 


HNH FoundationEarly Sprouts has received support by many organizations and individuals. Funding and encouragement from the HNH Foundation has been especially instrumental to the program's success and future sustainability.

Other generous supporters include: Advocates for Healthy Youth, Cheshire Health Foundation, CMH Foundation, Hannaford Super Markets, Kiwanis Club of Keene, NH, MacMillin, Monadnock Challenge Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Monadnock United Way, National Gardening Association & Home Depot, Healthy Sprouts Award from the National Gardening Association & Gardener's Supply Company, Environmental Education Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Gemini Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Stonewall Farm.

Developers and Trainers

Lynn Arnold, RD, LD, teaches undergraduate nutrition classes at Keene State College and is the instructional designer and program coordinator for the Early Sprouts program.

Dottie Bauer, EdD, is a professor of early childhood education at Keene State College and specializes in early childhood curriculum development and teacher preparation. She has a background in early childhood, special education, and human development.

Karrie Kalich, PhD, is a registered dietitian and a dean in the School of Professional and Graduate Studies at Keene State College. She consults on health and nutrition topics and is devoted to conducting community-based research to help young children develop healthy eating habits.

Deirdre McMartlin, MEd, is the academic program coordinator for the Child Development Center at Keene State College. Previous experience in the field includes teaching in preschool and kindergarten classrooms, child care administration and working with preservice teachers.