I know we are always being told not to play with our food but what would happen if we did let our children play with their food. I don't mean pea fights during dinner or porridge battles at breakfast - but fun games with real food at times other than meal times. And probably never with porridge!
Getting your children interested in eating vegetables is challenging. And believe me, I know! As a mum of three primary schoolers and a teacher of healthy eating to children, my children still pick some of their veggies out of their dinner despite being exposed on a daily basis to lots of them. But I think if you can take some food away from the table (and again, not porridge or stew for that matter), where there is no pressure to eat like at meal times, and use it in fun ways like we do at The Cool Food School, then this helps to take the fear and mystique out of vegetables for the children. I see this a lot in class when we are talking about the vegetable of the week - when we play our little games or do our vegetable activities, they just can't resist popping some into their mouths (even lettuce!).
Here are some ideas of fun food games to play with real food over the Easter break:
- food art - get the children involved in cutting food into fun shapes and then use them to make food art. If they eat some of the food along the way, all the better! There are loads of ideas on Pinterest for cool food art projects. You can buy safe kitchen knives at www.thecoolfoodschool.ie
- food bingo - we play food bingo in class, where we have lots of different fruits and veggies, all cut and ready to go along with some printed food bingo cards et voila, food bingo!
- food matching - if you have lots of fruit and veg in the house do a simple matching game. Place two of lots of foods on the table and get the children to match them, say the name of the food and taste if desired
- tomato squirting - you might need to be outside for this one! get the children to put cherry tomatoes between their teeth, bite down and see who can squirt the furthest!
- blind tasting - always a winner! the focus should be on safe foods that the child is happy to eat already and maybe one or two new tastes. Use whatever you have as a blindfold and prepare a selection of bite-sized foods (veg and some fruit). Stickers are great “prizes” to give for every taster.
- pick out a number of fruits and veg and get the child to make their own names for the foods e.g.. Silly Monkey Moo banana
Best of luck and let's put the "fun" back into vegetables (did you know that vegetables could be fun??!!).
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