Making snack time fun and stimulating
Whenever we talk about stimulating children’s development, we also talk a lot about the importance of integrating different actions. Of course, snack time represents a wonderful opportunity to build children’s autonomy. However, you may not have realized that snack time is also perfect for developing children’s fine motor skills. Many snack time interventions can help further children’s development.
Regarding snack time autonomy, let’s look at what children should be able to do per their age.
- At 12 months, children can hold their bottle using both their hands and eat tiny pieces with their fingers.
- At 2 years old, they can drink from a sippy cup that has a lid and pouring spout as well as eat with a spoon, but messes are common.
- At 3 years old, they can begin to use a fork and start to drink from a glass, without a lid.
- At 4 years old, they use a fork all the time and can drink from a glass.
- At 5 years old, they can pour themselves something to drink from a pitcher, spread butter (or other preparation) on their bread, and cut or mash their vegetables.
Are you wondering what you can do to foster the development of children’s autonomy? Here are a few suggestions:
- At snack time, have them thread Cheerios on a string before eating them.
- Fill a pitcher so it is half-full of water and let each child pour water in his drinking glass.
- Set food on platters and deposit them in the centre of the table. Let children serve themselves.
- Cut different types of fruit into pieces and ask children to slide them onto skewers. This represents a great fine motor skills exercise.
- Set a plastic knife on older children’s placemats. They will be happy to cut their own vegetables.
- Use your imagination to represent a face with vegetables. Provide the same vegetables you used and invite children to replicate your creation.
- Serve toast at snack time. Invite children to spread butter and/or jam on their toast. Older children will be glad to help little ones.
- Encourage children to prepare “speckled ice cream”. Give each child a bowl of ice cream or an ice cream cone along with a few chocolate chips. Show them how they can hide the chocolate chips in their hand and use their pincer grasp to press one chocolate chip at a time in their ice cream.
- Have children perform different tasks: pour milk in their glass using a pitcher, butter their bread, use a large spoon to take applesauce out of a jar and dollop it in their bowl, etc.
As you can see, developing children’s autonomy at snack time is quite easy. Simply integrating a few small changes can create stimulating opportunities. Although it can be tempting to do these things for the children in your group, giving them the freedom to execute them on their own will help them develop their full potential.
Maude Dubé, Specialized educator