• Dr Xanthi Maragkoudaki

Food activities to do at home

The way things stand at the moment we may need to stay in quarantine for a while. We all know how tricky this can be so I thought it’s worth putting together a few ideas of food activities you can do at home with them. Sensory activities are a great way to familiarise with foods and develop a rich food palette. At the same time mealtimes provide a great opportunity not only to enhance learning but also to have great conversations with our children. The activities I am suggesting encourage creativity , fine motor skills, learning and they help children accept more foods. I have also chosen activities which would allow for the food to be enjoyed afterwards!

  • Colour sorting. This one is particularly useful for young children. Ask children to sort foods according to colour. You could also use colour coordinated bowls. This is great for fine motor skills and will keep them occupied for long! Garden peas and sweetcorn are the best vegetables for this.

  • Be messy. This is the best food activity for babies. Let them mush, touch, smell, explore the food, The sensory exposure will help the child accept new foods.

  • Use a straw and blow small round vegetables. Similarly to bubbles this activity will help children‘s tongue and core muscles strengthen, helping speech development. At the same time it promotes eye coordination.

  • Bake colourful bread. Instead of using play dough, use bread dough and bake beautiful shapes and experiment with colours. This is a very fun activity and helps children with maths when they measure the ingredients.

  • Colour changing noodles. You would need to boil and pulp some purple cabbage to release its colour in the water. After you strain the cabbage you would boil some glass noodles in the water which will give them a beautiful blue colour. Add an acidic food on top, preferable some lemon juice and see them change to a beautiful pink. It is a great way to talk about PH to older children but also to captivate younger children!

  • Guess the food. Make sure you use opaque containers. you can use different foods or herbs and spices. Try to guess by touch or smell. This sensory exposure again would help children accept new foods and flavours.

  • Create shapes and faces. Use cookie cutters to cut vegetables and try to improvise to create faces. Fruits like raspberries and blackberries would be great for "colouring" on a paper plate or a pancake while carrot and cucumber make great hair.

  • Treasure hunts.

- Porridge oats can be great "sand", hide small fruits and encourage children children to find them. For older children you could also hide small toys. Then as the milk get poured over the oats notice how the consistency changes.

- Hide fruits in ice cubicles and watch them defreeze. Jelly could be used similarly.

  • How to help them with learning. When you quarantine, home school can be difficult and it's alright to let go a bit but mealtimes provide an excellent opportunity to enhance learning.

- Phonics. Ask you children to identify the food that starts from that particular letter. - Counting/Maths. Similarly to phonics you can use mealtimes to enhance learning by counting, adding and subtracting.

- Understanding the world. Use vegetables/herbs/ fruits that you grow and discuss where does the food come from.

  • Finally, I wanted to finish with my favourite activity of all, cooking with your children!! Cooking is a great way to bond with your children while teaching them to be independent, creative, precise and helpful! They could help preparing the food by chopping vegetables and by helping you measure (great for maths), stir and clean up. Especially in uncertain times like these children need to take responsibilities and feel that they are helping out. Give them the opportunity to help you and who knows maybe it will be more enjoyable for you too!

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