FOOD PLAY

Playing with food is one of the easiest ways for toddlers to earn about how to eat it.

But, if your little one is playing with food at mealtimes, it can feel like a nightmare.

One of the ways I like to help kids learn about food is through intended sensory play instead.

Basically, this means creating experiences for messy play that use food. This gives toddlers a chance to learn about the look, smell, feel and possibly taste of new foods. Being able to play with food in a fun way helps to build confidence and this is so important in the fussy years.

Food play also helps develop fine motor skills, independent play and imaginative play.

Adult supervision is always recommended.

Here are some fun ideas using an $8 Kmart tray, toys you might have at home and some cheap food products.

Magnetic tiles

You'll need:

    • Puffed corn- from Coles or a health food shop

 

How to use it:

    • Try making the corn rain on the tiles
    • Hide your magnetic tiles in the corn or build a house for them!

 

Scooping

You'll need:

    • Frozen or cooked peas

 

How to use it:

    • Peas are a great texture to learn about
    • Use kiddie scoops or other kitchen utensils to explore!

 

Rice noodles

You'll need:

    • Cooked rice noodles

 

How to use it:

    • This sticky texture is fun to learn about
    • Noodles make a great spider web for your creepy crawlies

 

Jelly

You'll need:

    • Jelly and coconut

How to use it:

    • Make jelly according to the packet. You can dye coconut with a little bit of food dye, but totally optional.
    • Jump your frogs in and out of the pond and see what sticks to them!
Cocoa

You'll need:

    • Cocoa, cornflour and water MUD

How to use it:

    • Mix 1 Cup cornflour (cornstarch), 3tbsp cocoa and 1/2 Cup water
    • Get your farm animals dirty and then wash them off in a bucket of water
Rice

You'll need:

    • Pink rice and cookie cutters

How to use it:

    • Cook your rice as normal and mix through a couple of drops of food colouring
    • Add some cookie cutters to play with different shapes. You can do this in the container by scooping the rice to one side and filling up the cookie cutter before lifting off.
Quinoa

You'll need:

    • Pumpkin, sunflower, hemp or chia seeds and cooked quinoa

How to use it:

    • Dinosaurs can dig holes, bury leaves and scoop up handfuls of dirt!
Pom poms

You'll need:

    • Dry or cooked pasta, pom poms and washi tape

How to use it:

    • Mix the pasta and the pom poms and criss cross the tape over the tray
    • Try to get the pasta or pom poms out without touching the tape!
Baked beans

You'll need:

    • Tinned baked beans

How to use it:

    • Use your trucks to scoop and dump the beans
    • You can add in a separate 'truck wash' bucket to clean them up at the end!
Peas

You'll need:

    • Frozen peas and carrots (or corn). You can cook or leave frozen.

How to use it:

    • Use the tongs to pick up the veggies to put into a cup or ice cube tray
    • Use fingers to sort the veggies into colours
Rice puffs

You'll need:

    • Puffed rice (from the health food aisle or use Rice Bubbles)

How to use it:

    • Help the animals 'eat' the rice
    • Make patterns in the puffed rice or bury the animals
Oats

You'll need:

    • Dry oats, measuring spoons and some kind of tray

How to use it:

    • Scoop the oats into the tray
    • Use the oats to cover treasure (like a blueberry) in the tray
    • Make the oats 'rain' onto the tray
Sago

You'll need:

    • Tapioca and sorting shapes.

How to use it:

    • Use one cup of dry tapioca and pour over enough hot water to cover. When absorbed add the whole lot to the play tray.
    • Use shapes to imprint in the tapioca
    • Bury the shapes
    • Wash the tapioca beads off the shapes
Goldilocks

You'll need:

    • Leftover porridge and a small figurine.

How to use it:

    • Read Goldilocks and the Three Bears
    • Measure out porridge for each of the bears with different sized spoons
    • Pretend to feed Goldilocks
Citrus

You'll need:

    • Water with one drop of food colouring, sliced citrus fruit and sponge letters

How to use it:

    • Use the sponge to squeeze out the coloured water
    • Squeeze the juice out of the fruit
    • Make a tower from the fruit and sponge and knock it down to make a splash
Linseed

You'll need:

    • Flaxseed from the health food shop (also known as linseed)

How to use it:

    • Soak the linseed in water until it goes goopy- an hour or so.
    • Add props to the goopy mixture.
    • You can also use this as mud with farm animals
    • Wash the figurines clean from the mud