Tag Archive | food activities

There’s Orange on Your Face!

Halloween provides a wonderful opportunity to teach and reinforce the colour orange!  Today’s post is an amalgamation of two activities that centre around pumpkin carving. One is an emotional learning activity that involves looking at pictures of jack-o-lantern faces and interpreting the different emotions that are displayed in each (a template is provided in the curriculum package) – then choose one to carve!  The other is a social learning activity that involves reading a book to help explain sustainability concepts and how to reduce waste (this also becomes a part of the pumpkin carving experience – the reason I could not separate the two activities).  I chose to focus on the social learning activity for this post.

 

Mondays and Wednesdays I choose one activity we did today from the Reaching Roses curriculum and share our experiences (starring my twin babies)

 This week’s Theme: More Colours

Activity DescriptionStory Time: Before carving a pumpkin face [Today’s Emotional Learning Activity] read a book that explains how pumpkins grow and about what can be done with the flesh and seeds (instead of just throwing them away).  Roast some pumpkin seeds, make a pie, save some seeds for planting.  Book Ideas: Pumpkin Circle (Levenson), My Pumpkin (Noonan), From Seed to Pumpkin (Pfeffer), I Like Pumpkins (Smath)

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Social Learning

Specific Skill: Learning about sustainability and reducing waste

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 23 months + 3 weeks

 

1.As the activity describes, we read some books together to discuss the life cycle of a pumpkin, the parts of a pumpkin and all the things that can be done with a pumpkin.  Here are two of the books we read.

Pumpkin Circle, by George Levenson

Pumpkin Circle, by George Levenson

From Seed to Pumpkin, by Jan Kottke

From Seed to Pumpkin, by Jan Kottke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  We began the pumpkin carving exercise.  For the sustainability/reducing waste theme, we focused on collecting the seeds for roasting/eating and for planting…..

The first glimpse…. I kept telling them, oooh, look, it’s just like in the books we read!  They were saying “seeds”, “seeds in here!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scraping & separating the seeds…. “Yucky”, M kept saying.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washing & straining the seeds… “Clean the seeds now”, says M.  “Get soap?”, asks O!  “No, just water.”, I tell her.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set the seeds to dry… We will roast them once they are dry.  I don’t think they will be able to eat them (choking hazard) so I guess I’ll cut them a small piece to taste and then ask them if we should package the rest up as a snack for Daddy to take to work.  (I know they will say yes…anything for Daddy!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

2.  After completing the emotional learning exercise described in the introduction of this post, we set to carving the pumpkin face.  They chose a happy face.

Daddy carves, we poke/pull out the pieces…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taa Daa!  We learned about emotions, about sustainability and reducing waste, we had fun, and now we have this mesmerizing  jack-o-lantern (our first ever!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Happy Halloween to all of our readers who enjoy this tradition!!

 

This post was based on an activity included in the Reaching Roses curriculum.  Click here to learn more!

There’s Veggies All over Our Faces!

Have you ever been in the middle of reprimanding or disciplining your toddler only to get laughed at by him/her?  What’s that all about?  Well, of course there is the possibility that your toddler is being mischievous but it is also important to note that often our toddlers are not able to interpret our facial expressions; this is a skill learned over time.  There is research to suggest that children who have difficulty identifying emotion in faces are more likely to have peer problems and children who have better face-reading skills may be more popular among peers, raising their self-esteem.  While I don’t think we need to worry about popularity contests for our children, it seems that helping our toddlers and children identify facial expressions can only benefit them.

Mondays and Wednesdays I choose one activity we did today from the Reaching Roses curriculum and share our experiences (starring my twin babies)

 This week’s Theme: Vegetables

Activity Description Veggie Faces: Use cut up veggies to create different faces that show different emotions (use a round plate as the head).  After you’ve made your creation, name the emotion, make the expression on your own face, see if your baby will mimic and repeat with a different face.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Emotional

Specific Skill: Identifying facial expressions

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 20 months + 2 weeks

1. To warm up, we reviewed and described the primary vocabulary for this week (peas, carrot, corn, potato).  I showed them their toy version matched up with a real version and let them explore the differences.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2. Next we did some facial expressions with our own faces.  I would make a face and ask them what it is.  They say “happy” for a smiling face, “No” for an angry face, “Cry” for a sad face, and they don’t know scared/surprised…it just makes them laugh.  Because they are on the right track with “No” and “Cry”, I would say something like, “Yes, you’re right.  A person who is crying is sad.  It’s a sad face.”  This is obviously a very simplified explanation – there are many reasons why somebody might cry, but for our purposes this explanation of “cry” will suffice.  I also asked them to try to make the faces…they can do it sort of and we always end up giggling.

3. Next, I showed them a platter of vegetables and a plate and I explained that I was going to make a face with the vegetables.  I verbally described what I was doing.  For example, “I am going to use these two carrot circles for eyes and these green peas to make a smile”, etc.  I would ask them to identify the completed face and then they could eat some!

4. Lastly, I gave them each a plate and the platter of veggies and told them to make a face of their own.  This was too abstract a concept for them so I verbally told them to find two things to make eyes and put it on their plate, find something for a nose….etc.  This worked much better.

M's Veggie-Face

M’s veggie-face

O's veggie-face

O’s veggie-face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Another great aspect of this activity is that they ended up eating a tonne of raw vegetables for their snack (without any prodding or coaxing)!

M enjoys some broccoli

M enjoys some broccoli

M likes carrots

M likes carrots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O eating sugar-snap peas

O eating sugar-snap peas

O chomps on some cauliflower

O chomps on some cauliflower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interested in other food related activities?  Click here!

 

Decisions, Decisions!

Decision making is one of the most important skills babies can develop.  The ability to make a decision will help a baby to become a well-adjusted, confident child and then a healthy, mature adult.  Decision making is not necessarily a naturally simple task, and though we may not realize, it takes practice.  Let’s give our babies and children the opportunity to practice making decisions.  There are so many benefits from doing an activity like this (I’ve listed some below), I really encourage you to try it with the children you care for.

We went out of town this weekend and are on the road today so I prepared this post ahead of time (it’s an activity that we did last week).  This week we are moving on to a new theme “Transportation” – though today’s post doesn’t reflect the new theme.

Mondays and Wednesdays I choose one activity we did today from the Reaching Roses curriculum and share our experiences (starring my twin babies)

Theme: Meal Time

Activity Description Snack Time: Prepare a snack of several different elements (ex. Fruits & veggies, crackers, yogurt, etc.)  Pick up two of the foods and ask your baby, “Do you want this (carrot) or this (cheese)?  After a choice is made and the food is eaten, repeat with two different foods.  Continue.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Cognitive

Specific Skill: Making a choice

O&M’s Ages (at the time of making this post): 19 months

M's says, "Hmmm....."

M’s says, “Hmmm…..”

O trying to decide

O trying to decide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are some benefits of decision making activities?

  • They provide an opportunity to develop language and communication skills
  • They improve your baby’s self-awareness (they need to consider their preferences and comfort levels)
  • They help increase your baby’s self-confidence (they gain some control over their lives)
  • They provide an opportunity for self-expression
  • They will lead to better habits and taking responsibility (eating, dressing, helping with chores – because it is their choice)
  • They can help deal with and deflect tantrums

1. The first thing I did was review the food that was available for snack, asking the babies to repeat the words.  Then I began to offer a choice of two snacks just as is written in the activity description and I encouraged “please & thank you”.  The video below shows the basic interaction.

 

2. Next is an example of how teaching a baby to express what they want can help stop a tantrum or future tantrums.  In this example I am explaining that in order to get what she wants, she need to use words.  However, understanding the concept of making a choice can help deflect other tantrums too.  For example, if your baby is screaming and refusing to help clean you can offer a choice, “Would you like to clean the cars or the blocks?” or refusing to get dressed, “Would you like to wear this shirt or this shirt?”.  Giving them a choice and some control over the situation often causes the tantrum to melt away.  But first your baby needs to understand that you are offering the opportunity to make a choice. (That’s where these kinds of activities come in handy). Be advised this video starts out with some screaming…you might want to turn the volume down.

 

3. The following two videos show some examples of encouraging verbal communication.

This video shows how instead of simply allowing M to point to what she wants, I encourage her to say what it is, I repeat what she says with correct pronunciation and I encourage her to add “please”.  O complies first so I give it to her first and this leads to an example of how we share (using counting to take turns).

 

This video shows how to encourage more complex language (two or three words sentences instead of one word). O points to the goldfish she wants but instead of giving it to her right away, or asking her to say “fish”, I ask her to say three words.

 

Dinner is Served!

We’ve come to the end of the Meal Time activity plan from the Reaching Roses curriculum and our culminating activity is going out to eat!  When it comes to taking toddlers to restaurants it can sometimes seem like it’s more effort than it’s worth.  As a friend of mine put it, “Why would I pay to put myself through torture?”…..here are some tips on how to make eating  out with your toddler a more enjoyable experience (and of course a learning experience ;0).

On alternating Fridays I blog about our final activity (starring my twin babies)

This week’s Theme: Meal time

Activity Description: Go out to a restaurant for a meal and involve your baby in the experience as much as possible

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Language, cognitive, gross motor, fine motor, social, emotional

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 19 months

 

1. As a precursor to our outing, we read two stories “Going Out”, (Oxenbury) and “Froggy Eats Out” (London).  We talked about appropriate behaviours, manners and social interaction (like being seated, choosing food from a menu, etc).  I explained to them that we were going to go to a restaurant to eat dinner too. They were wiggling with excitement.

2.  I checked the menu a head of time and printed out a couple of food options for the girls so that when it was time to order, they would have a picture to look at in order to make a choice (in case the menu didn’t have many pictures).

3. We had a very enjoyable meal (the best dining-out-as-a-family outing so far)…because we changed our strategy to involve them in the experience.  Here are some things we did:

 

  • We allowed them to choose their own food (Cognitive learning: decision making)

 What a concept!  I don’t know why we never did this before.  Luckily the menu had lots of pictures so I didn’t need to use the ones I printed.  We explained again that this is a “book” where you can pick what you want to eat.  They both chose the same thing.

Looking at the food options

Looking at the food options

M knows straight away what she wants

M knows straight away what she wants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • We encouraged interaction with the server (Social Learning: common social settings, Language: using language in context)

We encouraged them to say hello, order their own food, say thank you to the server when things were brought to the table – you could even let your toddler pay.  (When our server came, I just let her know that the girls would try to order themselves.  She was very obliging.)

Ordering their own food!

Ordering their own food!

  • We encouraged them to self-feed (Emotional learning: self-confidence, Fine motor skills: eating)

Actually this was easy for us because they ordered mostly finger foods BUT…. I brought along our own plastic utensils (that they are used to feeding themselves with and even a couple of plastic bowls).  Don’t be embarrassed to do this, it can really make your toddler more comfortable and therefore, your life a lot easier.  Often at restaurants the dishes are very heavy, breakable and too big for a toddler to easily manage them.

M drinks using a straw

M drinks using a straw

Yummy finger foods!

Yummy finger foods!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time for dessert

Time for dessert

Well done O!

Well done O!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M likes ice cream

M likes ice cream

Good job M!

Good job M!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • We practiced table manners (Social Learning : social norms)

If they started to be loud, I reminded them of the books we read before.  (I used the same phrasing as I did in the book).  I told them to look around the restaurant and see that there were other people who don’t want to hear yelling and that nobody else is sitting at their table yelling.  This seemed to work.  Although there was a baby somewhere that was crying and they kept saying “baby, cry, cry”..(I’m not sure if they were just expressing their understanding of a sound or weather they were trying to argue by saying that somebody else was being loud)…LOL!

We all really enjoyed ourselves!

We all really enjoyed ourselves!

As I said before, this was the best restaurant experience we have had so far (with the babies in tow).  We didn’t have to get out a single toy, we didn’t have to offer them appeasement to keep them quiet, we weren’t apologizing to people, we weren’t fussing about them the whole time.  As a matter of fact, Mr. Y and I actually had a couple of  interesting adult conversations!

Try this out with your toddler and leave us a comment to let us know how it went!

P.S. Want to see a few of the activities from the Meal Time! activity plan?  Click here.

Cheeri-O!

We are back!  Sorry for the unforeseen hiatus, as I mentioned in the last blog post, we went out of town unexpectedly.  I had planned to blog from there but Mr. Y forgot to put the bag of all my “blogging gear” (cameras, laptop, etc.) into the car!  It’s just as well because O had a fever for a few days and we were busy visiting family!  We are beginning the last activity plan from Clever Clovers – Simple Shapes.   Today is all about circles.

Mondays and Wednesdays I choose one activity we did today from the Clever Clovers curriculum and share our experiences (starring my twin babies)

 This week’s Theme: Basic Shapes

Activity Description Have your baby lace Cheerios onto a pipe cleaner.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Fine Motor

Specific Skill: Simple lacing

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 18 months

1. I did a quick introduction to circles by showing them several items shaped like a circle.  I traced my finger around the objects and said, “circle”.  I asked them to repeat, which they did!

2. Next, I showed them how to thread the Cheerio onto the pipe-cleaner, counting as I went.  I asked them if they wanted to try (to which I received very enthusiastic head nodding).

3.  What a great and simple activity!  They seemed to be able to overcome the challenges of getting the Cheerios onto the pipe-cleaner, but had difficulty pushing the Cheerio down to the bottom of the pipe cleaner, so we will continue to work on that.  When they experienced difficulty it gave me ample opportunity to use the word circle.  (Ex. “Try holding the circle like this.”, “Can you push the circle all the way down?”, etc.).  If your baby doesn’t have much difficulty you can insert the word circle by narrating what your baby is doing (Ex. “Wow! You put the circle on the pipe-cleaner”, “You’re holding the circle with your fingers”, “You are pushing the circle down”, “You are putting more circles on”).

M laces the Cheerio on!

M laces the Cheerio on!

Well done M!

Well done M!

M attempts to lace it all the way to the bottom

M attempts to lace it all the way to the bottom

O attempts to lace the Cheerio onto the pipe-cleaner

O attempts to lace the Cheerio 

Well done O!

Well done O!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, we had A LOT of difficulty resisting the urge to eat the Cheerios!

Yum Yum!

Yum Yum!

Time to eat!

Time to eat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for more food activities? Click here!

Looking for more fine motor development activities (15-18 months)? Click here!