Yesterday, I did a fiber lesson for 2 preschool classes, which meant that I talked about poop A LOT.  I was expecting lots of squeals and giggles every time I said the word “poop,” but the kids didn’t blink an eyelash once. They were utterly FASCINATED, though.

First, we looked at a long plastic tube and I explained that their bodies have an even longer tube that winds through our bellies, called intestines. Its job is to take nutrients out of food and pass them through to the rest of our bodies. Any part of the food it doesn’t need turns into poop, so our bodies can get rid of it.

Here is my son holding the tube.

Here is my son holding the tube.

We talked about how there are two kinds of fiber. One is like a sponge (soluble fiber) and it makes our poop nice and soft, so that it slides out of our bodies without being too hard or messy. The kids played with sponges to soak up water and clean the table, just like fiber does to the inside of our bodies.

The other kind of fiber (insoluble fiber) is like a brush and it helps our poop move through our body so we can poop every day without it giving us a belly ache. The kids felt a bristle brush and we talked about how it’s similar to the peel of an apple, etc.

After that I used play-dough to show them what healthy poop looks like (smooth and soft, kind of like a hot dog). Then we talked about how we can always look at our poop (with our eyes, not our hands!) for clues if our body needs more fiber. If their poop is hard or lumpy, they should drink more water and ask their parents for some yummy fruits and vegetables!


In hindsight, this picture looks a little x-rated. But it’s really just me trying to make play-dough into a good poop shape.

A lot of the kids were relieved to learn that there are things they can do so that it doesn’t hurt when they poop. Others were excited to know that it would make it easier to wipe.

All-in-all, it made me realize how little we talk to our kids about what poop is and how what we eat can make the pooping experience so much better. Even as the mom of 2 preschoolers, I’ve never talked to my kids about poop in this way until yesterday. I’m always just rushing them to the bathroom in time to avoid the dreaded undies smear.

Has anyone else ever used a good, old fashioned poop talk to help kids see the benefit of eating fruits and veggies?

[UPDATE (3/29/14) — I’ve heard from several of the kids’ parents, saying that their kids are asking for more fruits and veggies….and eating them! Woot woot!]


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  • This is hilarious and awesome!! I wish I could have been at the dinner table with those families…to hear kids recap the lesson would be adorable!

  • Christine Curtis

    Something I just learned about last July that is a common problem for boys in the 4-10 year age range is Encopresis (soiling). For 2 years my son kept having poop accidents in his pants – we blamed him for ignoring the need to go…when actually he could truly not feel it because in the past when he did go he had a BM big enough to continually clog the toilet. His pediatrician never told me about it – I found it online and printed it off and took it to the next appointment when my son had cramps in his stomach. Right now his GI doctor has him on a high fiber, low fat diet with many restrictions plus having to take Miralax daily to try and retrain his body. To this day I still feel guilty for not realizing it wasn’t a case of my son being lazy but a actual medical condition. Wonder how many other parents out there are dealing with this too and just don’t know it. Definitely important to talk to the kids about the poop issue. Wish my son would have had someone in school to tell him about it and/or to me about it. Come July it will make 1 year we’ve been working with his GI doctor. Thank you for sharing your potty talk with preschoolers!

    • Laura Chalela Hoover, MPH, RDN

      Hi Christine — Thanks for sharing your story. You bring up a really good point….sometimes kids need help beyond what a healthy diet can provide. Last year, my son (then 4 years old) was having potty issues — different than what your son was experiencing, but frustrating, nonetheless. Even though it didn’t seem like my son was constipated, we did a Miralax cleanout and it worked wonders. You’re a good mama for doing the research to find a solution to help your son. I’m sure he (and your washing machine) appreciate it. 🙂

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