25 fun snack ideas
1. Decorated peels
Offer washable markers and let children draw directly on their banana or orange peel. Encourage them to draw eyes, a nose, a mouth, and hair. They can use their banana or orange as a puppet. They will surprise you with the endless scenarios they will have fun creating with these original characters. When they begin to lose interest, help them peel their fruit and eat it.
2. Vitamin-packed patterns
Give each child a small bowl filled with fruit or veggies. Set a plate in front of each child. Have fun inventing series on a plate of your own and invite children to reproduce and complete the patterns on their plate. For example, you can ask them to arrange the following in a row: a sliced strawberry, a blueberry, and a sliced strawberry. Of course, children can continue the pattern, alternating sliced strawberries and blueberries. Once they have completed the pattern (and used all the strawberries and blueberries they had in their bowl), let children eat the series before creating a new one using other types of fruit or veggies. They won't even realize how many vitamins they are ingesting...
3. Edible tower
Give each child a bowl filled with cheese cubes or cheese slices as well as a second bowl filled with crackers. Invite children to build a tower by stacking the cheese and crackers in a large plate. Once their tower is complete, let children destroy it by eating it piece by piece.
4. Nutritional memory game
Set a variety of food items on a table, forming a grid as in a traditional memory game. For example, you may use two cucumber slices, two pieces of cheese, two orange segments, two cereal pieces, etc. Place a small silicone muffin cup over each item. Children can take turns removing two muffin cups at a time to discover two hidden food items. If a child finds two identical food items, he/she can eat them. If the two food items that are uncovered are different, the child must cover them once again with the muffin cups and it's the next child's turn.
5. Snowy mountain
Deposit a few fruit pieces in each child's plate. Using aerosol whipped cream, cover the fruit, creating a mountain-like shape. Let children shovel the "snow" (or simply eat it) to find the fruit.
6. Colourful snack
Deposit several food items on a large platter and set it on a table, in front of your group. Wrap a small cardboard box with white paper to create a die. Color each side of the die using a different color, making sure to use colors that correspond to the food items you have selected. For example, if your platter contains cucumber slices, cauliflower pieces, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, yellow beans, and brown mushrooms, your die should have green, white, red, orange, yellow, and brown sides. Children can take turns rolling the die. Encourage them to choose a food item that corresponds to the color shown on the die.
7. Snacking train
Invite children to sit at the table. Prepare individually wrapped miniature granola bars, miniature muffins, or tiny cookies ahead of time. Deposit one or more snack item per child in a toy train's cars. Roll the train around the table, inviting each child to select his/her snack as the train stops in front of them.
8. Yogurt art
Give each child a shallow bowl filled with plain or vanilla yogurt. Fill small Ziploc bags with a small amount of unsweetened fruit sauce (coulis). Cut one corner of each bag and show children how they can use the fruit sauce to "draw" on their white canvas (yogurt). Once their bag is empty, encourage children to eat their masterpiece using a spoon.
9. Drinkable food
Cut a variety of fruit and set them on a platter, in front of your group. Let children take turns adding a few pieces of fruit to your blender jar. Pour a small quantity of fruit juice or milk in small drinking glasses or measuring cups and have children pour the liquid over the fruit. Give each child the opportunity to press the button and activate your blender to transform the fruit and make a delicious smoothie. If you wish, you can have children decorate paper or Styrofoam drinking glasses with stickers and even offer fun drinking straws. This will only make their homemade smoothie taste even better!
10. Layered snack
Give each child a small Mason jar. If the children in your group are very young, you may choose to use small plastic containers, as long as they are clear because the goal is to create food layers that are visually appealing. Select colourful food items. Veggies are a great choice. You can, for example, offer each child a plate filled with cut veggies (cucumbers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, yellow peppers, etc.). Provide small tongs children can use to deposit the various food items in their jar or container. You can ask them to begin by depositing green food items on the bottom. Next, ask them to hide them with red food items and so on. Once each child's jar or container is full, deposit them in the refrigerator. At snack time, encourage children to admire their rainbow-coloured snack before eating it up.
11. Blind taste test
Invite children to sit at the table and use scarves to blindfold them. Feed each child one spoonful at a time, providing them with the opportunity to taste various food items: fruity yogurt, vanilla pudding, applesauce, plain yogurt, mashed banana, etc. Let them try to guess what they are eating. Write down their guesses and discuss them at the end of the activity, once you have removed their blindfolds.
12. A bite for you
Help each child find a partner. Give each child a bowl filled with yogurt, cereal, or applesauce. Ask children to feed their partner, just like a parent feeds his/her child. Children will enjoy this activity. They won't realize it, but this simple exercise will give them the opportunity to develop their fine motor skills as well as promote their moral and social development.
13. Chopstick experts
Purchase wooden chopsticks with rounded tips. With children's help, spread cream cheese or hummus on colourful tortillas (tomato or spinach). Once this step is done, provide red, yellow, and orange pepper strips, cucumber strips, and vegetable sprouts. Encourage children to arrange them near the bottom of the tortillas before rolling them up to form rolls. Slice the tortilla rolls to represent sushi pieces and invite children to try to eat the pieces using chopsticks. If you wish, wrap a rubber band around the top of each child's set of chopsticks, making it easier for them to eat their "sushi" pieces.
14. I prick, you prick...
At the dollar store, purchase colourful toothpicks. You can choose toothpicks that look like tiny swords, others that come with cute paper decorations, and, of course, umbrellas used for drinks. These out of the ordinary toothpicks will make this activity attractive for little ones. At snack time, cut food items into bite-sized pieces and prick toothpicks in each one. Children will love picking and choosing among the available snacks. Encourage them to name the colors, shapes, and objects they see every time they choose a new food item. Constant supervision is required for this activity.
15. Just juicing!
Give each child a few citrus halves: a small clementine, a lime, a lemon, and an orange. Deposit a small bowl filled with homemade fruit salad in front of each child. Show them how they can squeeze the juice out of the citrus fruit, over their fruit salad. Keep the citrus halves for the following activity.
16. Sun-filled bowls
Once children have extracted the juice from the citrus fruit, use a spoon to completely hollow out the citrus halves. Prepare mango or orange sherbet and serve the preparation in the citrus bowls. Children will be very impressed! What a fun way to add a little sunshine to a rainy day!
17. Crunchy music
Deposit several large bowls on a table or counter. Pour dry food items in each one: different types of cereal, crackers, dried fruit, small cookies, chocolate chips, popcorn, etc. Add a large spoon to each bowl. Invite children to use them to fill small plastic containers (that have a lid) with the food items they like most to create original trail mix. Once children's containers are almost full, help them seal them with the lid. Play slow or fast-paced music and invite children to shake the containers to the sound of the music. From time to time, stop the music. Children must stop shaking their containers until the music starts up again. If you wish, let children eat a little of their trail mix before playing a new song.
18. Pretty napkins
At the dollar store or a big-box store, purchase pretty paper napkins. Choose napkins of different colors or with a variety of designs and prints: birds, flowers, insects, characters, etc. Give each child one napkin. Show them how they can open their napkin to create a placemat. Provide dry food items and encourage them to deposit them on the printed designs or use them to create designs of their own. After a while, let them eat the food items.
19. Stocked miniature kitchen
During naptime, wash and disinfect your toy kitchen and plastic dishes. Set children's afternoon snack in your small kitchen's refrigerator and cupboards. When children wake up, take them to your kitchen area and let them discover their snack. They will love to use the plastic dishes they normally play with to eat real food.
20. A sprinkle of this, a sprinkle of that
Purchase several small containers that are meant for sprinkling spices or sugar. Fill them with dry cereal or different types of fruit cut into pieces. Show children how they can shake the containers over a plate to sprinkle their snack. If you wish, fill each container with a different food item. Children can take turns shaking each one over their plate. This may encourage children to taste a variety of food items.
21. Locked snack
Purchase a small treasure chest that can be locked. Deposit your group's afternoon snack in the treasure chest and lock it. Hide the key in your backyard or within your daycare. Invite children to find the key and unlock the treasure chest to discover their snack.
22. Shoveling couscous
Fill a large container with couscous to represent an indoor sandbox. Individually wrap each child's snack in small Ziploc bags and bury the bags in the couscous. Provide clean plastic shovels and let children use them to dig out their snack.
23. Banana cookies
Deposit a very ripe banana on each child's plate. Give them plastic forks and show them how they can use their fork to mash the banana. Once this is done, have them spread the mashed banana on their plate to create a round shape to represent a large cookie. Provide chocolate chips, blueberries, or raisins and have children sprinkle them on their "cookie". When they are done they can use a spoon to eat their snack.
24. Snacking riddles
Deposit a plate filled with fruits and vegetables, cheese, and crackers in front of each child. Encourage them to notice the contents of their plate and the characteristics of each food item. Provide clues to help them guess which food item you want them to eat first, second, third, and so on. For example, you can tell them that the first item they must eat is cut into cubes, is orange, and that mice like to eat it. Children will realize that they are to eat a piece of cheese. Keep going until children have eaten their entire snack.
25. Edible models
Purchase plastic plates containing several sections. Give one to each child and keep one plate for yourself. You will use your plate to provide models children must replicate. Deposit a platter filled with different food items in the centre of the table. If, for example, you have square plates containing four sections, place one food item in each one (a piece of cheese in the upper left section, a round cracker in the upper right section, a cut green grape in the lower left section, and a dried cranberry in the lower right section). Show children your plate and invite them to fill their plate by placing the same food items in the same sections. Once all the children have succeeded, let them eat the food items. You may also choose to let children take turns preparing the model. Without noticing it, they will end up eating a complete snack.