Playing With Food

ridge.jpegYou’ll never say “don’t play with your food” again once multi-sensory learning is incorporated into your picky eater’s mealtime. Fussy eaters can’t resist loving veggies when all your child’s senses are engaged.

You can change dinner conflict with your picky eater to fun, multi-sensory, memory-making mealtimes. Play is the way children learn and directed-play allows you to incorporate foods your picky eater has previously refused to eat. Once your child’s imagination is engaged, food, especially veggies, takes on a new perspective.

Try RannosuarusTM is a green T-Rex. He’s named “Try,” because he’ll try any food and he especially loves veggies. He has an enormous appetite and eats everything in his path.

Ridge can’t wait. His mom just told him that he has a lunch date at Try Rannosaurus’ Edible Swamp!

Try Rannosaurus’ Edible Swamp
Try’sTM Edible Prehistoric Swamp is an interactive meal. It makes a great lunch or snack when dinner is going to be later than usual. If you have a toddler picky eater, you’ll want to assemble the ingredients yourself. If your picky eater is a bit older, then have him/her assist in the prep work. The description and set-up of the swamp set the stage for learning.

WooHoo! Playing with TryTM in his food-swamp is lots of fun. Kids don’t know it’s a learning experience as well. Picky eaters, who are usually put off by the textures of vegetables, will be engrossed with the story and the multi-sensory aspect of the swamp. Make sure your child’s hands are thoroughly washed before you begin.

Prepare a guacamole dip and hummus. Wash and cut veggie strips into three-inch julienne pieces. 

In addition, you’ll need:
One small plastic green T-Rex (for Try RannosuarusTM) wash TryTM  in the sink before you begin
Several whole black olives for volcanic rock
Whole button mushrooms for vegetation placed on one edge of the swamp
Celery, carrot, and cucumbers in julienne slices for fallen trees, logs, etc.
Small zucchini cut into discs are lily pads or a path
Broccoli and cauliflower pulled or cut into small pieces; they are prehistoric bushes

Try-smallHave your child help with the set-up of the swamp. Choose a flat medium-sized dish. Plop a big dollop of guacamole in the center of the plate and flatten it out. That’s the floor of the swamp. Spread hummus around the swamp, it’s the earth and will serve as “glue” to hold the veggie bushes. Place the black olives as rocks on top of a dollop of hummus. Do the same with button mushrooms in another spot. Let your child’s creativity take over. A larger mound of hummus can become a volcano. Dribble a spoonful of salsa on top and down the sides for lava. You get the idea and I’m sure you’ll come up with more on your own! Don’t give in to the temptation to add chips or other processed snack foods. This activity is about learning to appreciate whole foods. (Picky eaters willingly eat chips and other junk foods!)

While you’re setting the stage for Try’sTM Swamp, discuss the various veggies. Talk about their colors, textures, scents, and tastes. Who likes to eat these? Of course, TryTM does! In fact, he’s always on the hunt for something yummy to eat, especially green veggies! TryTM says wonderful things as he’s chomping away at the vegetation. He often bellows, “I’m so hungry, I could eat a tree” and “Green food is yummy”!

Encourage your picky eater to take bites of everything, just like TryTM. If fussy child refuses to eat something or has difficulty touching gooey food, such as guacamole dip or hummus, you may take this activity one step further. Think of it as food therapy! You washed Try in the sink before you began, right? Give the toy to your fussy child and instruct him/her to march TryTM through the swamp. Of course TryTM will devour everything in his path. Be sure TryTMgets another bath after he romps through  the Edible Swamp.

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