When it comes to childhood, every moment of the day is an opportunity for learning. This holds true for snack and mealtime as well.
Kids interact with food multiple times a day. Without even realizing it, they are exposed to math, science, and reading almost every time they eat or open the pantry — measurements and parts of a whole, patterns in a cereal bowl, rainbows of colors in tri-color pasta or salad, simple counting, or reading from the boxes in the grocery aisle.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack times are all unique opportunities not only to introduce our children to making healthy choices, but also to learn different academic concepts through this everyday experience of food.
As moms and co-founders of Bitsy’s Brainfood, we are always looking for smart ways to keep our own kids engaged and having fun. So we thought we’d share some real "food for thought" with some quick ideas and recipes on how you can teach with food and make meals count in more ways than one!
Use these fun tips at snack at mealtime to keep your family engaged and mentally active at the table. Who says we can’t play and learn with our food?
Simple Tips, Ideas, and Recipes:
1. Look for shapes and make them, too! Try cutting food in different shapes, or even making geometric shapes by connecting foods such as cut fruit or cheese cubes with toothpicks. Have a shape scavenger hunt in the kitchen. Ask your kids to find foods in the shape of ovals, squares, rectangles, triangles, or circles. Teach your kids to differentiate between 2-D and 3-D. A tomato is a sphere. A pepperoni is a circle.
2. Use measuring cups to teach parts of a whole and fractions.
3. Try adding and subtracting with food. I just ate one slice of apple, how many do I have left? If we each eat 1/8 of this pizza, how many pieces will be left? Always be thinking of ways to engage your kids in the moment!
4. Letter Scavenger Hunt with Bitsy’s Brainfood. Eat smart and be smart with letters from our Alphabet SmartCookies. Take out an alphabet-shaped cookie and look around the room — how many objects can each child spy that begin with their letter? How many words can they spell? Brainy bonus, these SmartCookies are an excellent source of omega-3, vitamins A, B, D, and folic acid, and each box has a half serving of fruits and vegetables, plus a wacky super food sticker inside.
5. Learn about patterns with your little ones at snack time! Start a pattern on your child’s plate and provide extra room for them to continue. You can do this activity with so many different healthy snacks. Try it with different fruits and vegetables. Or use sunflower seeds, raisins, and dried fruit. Begin with a few different combos, like strawberries, blueberries, and grapes.
6. Learn to count with money and make it a "snack sale"! Round up your spare change, give a few coins to each child, and "charge" them for their healthy snacks. (We love carrots, blueberries, string cheese, and bowls with little price tags attached.) They’ll learn to count money, and you’ll be one step closer to selling your kids on the idea of smart snacking!
Get Cooking and Thinking with this Brainfoodie Recipe: