I was a picky eater when I was a kid. I frequently played around with my food instead of eating, and I frequently got in trouble for doing it. Well, now I know that playing with food isn’t always a bad thing. Snack time, in particular, can be a great time to work on some early learning concepts. Here are several ideas for snack time learning.
One of the simplest things that you can do is count snacks. How many pretzels do you have? After a child eats a few, ask him or her to count them again to see how the number changes.
Take it up a notch by asking kids to configure a certain number of snacks in a different way. The picture above shows 5 pretzels arranged on a napkin.
When a child arranges those five pretzels in another way, he or she learns that the number 5 can be represented in many different ways. The pretzels may look different, but there are still 5 of them.
Here, a bag of colorful goldfish are sorted by color. How many do you have of each color? Which color has the biggest quantity? Which color has the least?. A child can compare his or her results with a friend’s results.
A pile of teddy grahams can be sorted by ones that are face down (sleeping) and ones that are face up (awake). How many are asleep? How many are awake? Which number is bigger? Teddy grahams can also be sorted by those with arms up and those with arms down.
You may be able to find a snack that can be sorted by more than one attribute. These can be sorted by color or style.
Snack items can also be used to make patterns. Here is an example of goldfish cracker patterns, but almost any food can be used. I personally think that grapes and strawberries would make delicious patterns.
Open up a napkin and distribute the snack equally into each of the quadrants. How many items can you place in each square? How many are leftover? How many more do you need to place 1 more item into each square?
Create letters using pretzel sticks, carrot sticks, or celery sticks.
Other Letter Activities
ABC crackers, cookies or pretzels obviously lend themselves to working on early literacy concepts.
- Work on letter recognition by identifying the letters.
- Say the sound associated with each letter and think of words that start with that sound.
- Find letters that are in a child’s name.
- Sort the letters to determine if there are any duplicates.
- Spell names or sight words with the letters
How do you like to play with food?