What we eat
Activities for toddlers and babies
Help little ones discover the joy of exploring a variety of food items.
Glue pictures or illustrations of different food items on the walls of your daycare and hide plastic food items that can safely be manipulated by babies and toddlers here and there. Children will love discovering them throughout the week.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
Name what you eat
During meals, naming the food items that children are eating is an excellent habit to have. As you serve the children in your group, name the different foods on their plate. They will quickly begin to associate the words with the correct food items.
Silly food...to make meals and snacks fun
- Use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of cheese slices.
- Spread cream cheese on bread slices and use vegetables to create faces (olives for the eyes, a slice of pepper for the mouth, and a cherry tomato for the nose). You can also spread jam on a rice cake.
- Show children how a slice of honeydew melon looks like a smile when they place it in front of their mouth.
- Slip a finger puppet on each child's spoon.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (smell)
I enjoy presenting this activity in the kitchen. Have fun smelling various spice jars with little ones. You can also introduce them to other scents that are present in the kitchen such as vanilla.
Purchase scented candles that smell like fruit. Deposit them in small plastic containers (cubes) and punch holes in the lids. Let babies and toddlers manipulate the scented containers. If you wish, you can stick a picture of the corresponding fruit on each container (a strawberry on the container that has a strawberry-scented candle inside for example).
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (to hear)
Add dry food items to clear plastic bottles (peas, spaghetti, pasta, rice, etc.). Use hot glue to secure the caps on the bottles and let children shake them to produce sounds.
Did you hear that?
This activity can be quite noisy, but children absolutely love it! Provide several different pots and pans along with aluminum pie plates and wooden spoons. Let them create their own symphony...
ARTS & CRAFTS
Let toddlers explore modeling dough. Add dry pasta and rice. Show them how they can prick spaghetti in their creations, roll rotini pasta on them to create designs, or even sprinkle rice on them, just for fun! Of course, supervision is required throughout this activity. You may want to give children their pacifiers to prevent them from putting modeling dough, pasta, or rice in their mouth.
Deposit one or two spoonfuls of chocolate pudding on a sheet of waxed paper for each child. Depending on the ages of the children in your group, you can offer various types of fruit (strawberries, bananas, apple slices, etc.). Let children explore the food items (and eat them) as they spread the pudding around.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Role play bin-The kitchen
Fill a bin with plastic food items and utensils. Add empty pasta boxes, egg cartons, milk cartons, cereal boxes, etc. Stuff the boxes with newspaper and seal them with adhesive paper to make them more durable. Let children explore the contents of the bin.
Bonding opportunities during meals and snacks
Here are a few suggestions for your entire group or for smaller sub-groups:
- An indoor or outdoor picnic.
- Small tables that two children can eat at together (heavy cardboard boxes filled with newspaper can be used).
- Organize a lunch or snack with another daycare group.
- Set a new colourful tablecloth on the table and let children stick pictures cut out of magazines, catalogues, and flyers on it using adhesive paper.
- Prepare a special vegetable platter and have fun discovering the vegetables and dips as a group.
You will need a slice of white bread and a slice of whole wheat bread for each child. Use a cookie cutter to cut a large shape out of each slice of bread. Insert the shape cut out of the white bread in the hole in the slice of whole wheat bread and vice versa (to create a contrast). Let children play with their bread puzzles for a short time before eating them.
Recipe for measuring, stirring, counting eggs...
The cook who works in our daycare sometimes visits the different groups. She enjoys preparing a recipe with each group. This exploration recipe is particularly interesting. The end result has a sticky texture and a sweet taste. Have several wet washcloths handy!
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of shredded coconut
- 3 pasteurized liquid eggs (since the eggs will be manipulated by children, available in supermarkets)
Mix all the ingredients together. Of course, this is an exploration recipe. If you wish, you can bake the preparation. Drop 1-inch balls on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 °F for 10 to 15 minutes. When they begin to brown, they are ready. The inside will be moist.
Round picture book
You will need several lids from frozen juice cans. Use adhesive paper to stick pictures or illustrations of various food items on the lids. Try to use food items that children are familiar with. Let babies and toddlers explore the lids and help them name the food items. Cut a slit in the top of a clean empty milk carton and encourage children to insert the lids through it. Cut a larger slit at the bottom of the milk carton, large enough for children to be able to insert their fingers to collect the lids.
Naming and observing foods
Visit a supermarket or outdoor market with your group. Point to different food items and name them with your group. Observe the different colors and shapes. If you wish, photograph the foods you see and use the pictures to create a picture book that will represent a souvenir of your outing. Variation: If you are unable to visit a supermarket, simply explore the contents of your refrigerator with your group.
Early childhood educator
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