• Meet Your Picky, Problem, Growing Eaters at Our Table

    Seed: This is a learning feeder. This child has not yet developed the skills to eat a wide variety of foods by mouth. This feeder may not be ready to place food into their mouth or may be learning to manage purees or their first meltable solids (e.g., puffs). We may see frequent gagging and choking with these friends. We may have difficulty achieving appropriate weight gain and meeting our nutritional content.

    Seedling: This child may have less than 15 foods they eat regularly, may not be able to tolerate new foods on their plate, may present with “behaviors” at the table, may not be able to sit at the table for more than five minutes, may currently eat different meals than the rest of the family, may request/eat the same foods each day, this child may only accept preferred food brands, and may have difficulty describing/navigating foods with new properties/changes.

    Sprout: This child may have less than 30 foods they eat regularly, this child may be emerging with their ability to see, hear, smell, touch, and occasionally taste new foods, this child may need multiple attempts before they can accept a new food into their inventory, this child often may be able to sit at the table for a full meal and may be presented with the same meal as the rest of the family in addition to their current preferred foods, this child may accept modifications to their preferred food brands and items.

    Blossom: This child has mastered a variety of skills including: seeing, hearing smelling, touching and tasting of foods. This child is able to enjoy foods with our basic senses, but can sit in a proper child size seat and physically engage in eating and feeding skills using his/her vestibular and proprioceptive skills. This child can tolerate a wide variety of foods from each food group, but still may require some hands on play and exploration for new foods.

  • Winter Sensory Fun ❄️

    ❄️ Simple sensory fun coming your way! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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    1️⃣ Real snow! Scoop some up in a bucket, container, or even into the bathtub for some easy fun! In a warm climate?? (we’re jealous!) Use cotton balls or styrofoam packaging as your fake snow! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    2️⃣ Holiday scents! Snag cranberries, cinnamon sticks, fresh pine for a sensory experience to engage the nose! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    3️⃣ Freeze those water beads for a pretend icy winter wonderland! Try freezing beads that you’ve already had out/used. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    4️⃣ Use shaving cream for fake snow! Bonus: work on fine letter/number recognition and production by practicing writing in the snow! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    5️⃣ Try an edible sensory experience by using white cooking frosting as snow! Have it “snow” on graham crackers, strawberries, or even bananas! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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    💡 Pro-tip: Try using a kiddy pool or baby bath tub for easy sensory fun clean up! ⠀

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  • Green Beans – 20 Ways to Play

    1)    Silly String Bean Faces – Build your own faces with your green beans using the full bean for a big grin and pop out the seeds for little eyes and noses! Do you have snow where you live right now? Why not add them to a snowman!? 

    2) Dough Rollers – Does your little one enjoy Playdough or cooking with you? Why not use your green beans as “steamrollers” to help roll out that dough (play-dough or real dough if you’re into baking!) or make silly shapes and stamps into it!

    3) Bean Telephones – Pretend play telephone with your string beans, *ring-ring* do I hear a fun time on the line?!

    4) Inchworms – “Inch” those green beans along like little inch worms or choo-choo trains! If you’re little one doesn’t know what an inchworm is, look up videos on you-tube and then act them out together!

    5) Build the Fortress – Take those green beans and build your own complete home or fortress, stack them up link log cabins and feel free to add fun editions like “trees” or “flowers” that your little one can smell and feel!

    6) String Bean Boats – Grab a tub of water or fill up your sink and drive a few bean “boats” or “canoes” through with your little one while your washing the beans off 

    7) Bean Paint Brushes – Grab a little dollop of ranch or dill dip (or preferred sauce/dip) and use your beans to “paint” a masterpiece on your plates

    8) Plant your own beans – When they’re ready to harvest let your little one help you collect and wash them up!

    9) Coloring Book Beans – Grab a coloring book or print an outline of a favorite character and use the beans to outline the character. Living somewhere sunny? Try outlining your shaddows (try your hands first!) with the beans too!

    10) Try a Fun Bean Experiment – Check our this “magic beanstalk” from Growing A Jeweled Rose: https://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2016/03/grow-magic-beanstalk.html

    11) Read Jack and the Beanstalk – Talk about beans and look up photos together 

    12) Connect The Dots – Try a fun twist on the classic pen and paper “connect-the-dots” by using green beans. Consider cooked and raw to determine whose are whose! 

    13) Raw Bean Egg Shakers – Let your little one help you chop up a few raw green beans and fill a few plastic eggs. Enjoy shaking them and making some music together!

    14) Balance Beam Beans – Try balancing your raw green beans across your noses – who can hold theirs the longest?!

    15) Pretend Play SpaceShips – 3, 2, 1 BLAST OFF! Send those beans in the air and fly them through space together! Maybe you’ll even land onto one of your “moon teeth” too!

    16) Scooping Spoons – Use those string beans to scoop up a dip or sauce! You can shovel it back and forth across your plate or maybe even your tongues!

    17) Bean Lipstick – Pretend play paint your lips “on” with your string bean lipstick tube!

    18) Bean Names – Use your beans to shape letters and spell out new words or names together!

    19) Pretend Play People – Pretend your green beans are dolls (or animals!) and bring them to life with a fun pretend play adventure story. 

    20) Expose, Expose, Expose! Remember, consistency is key!

  • Linking to Learn – Poptarts to Raspberries

    🔗 Another linking to learn! Poptarts ➡️ Raspberries ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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    🔗 Linking to learn involves presenting one food at a time to your Little while using your words to show how the foods are linked! Such as we had rainbow rocks and now we have all red rocks!” Spend a few minutes interacting with each food before moving on to the next! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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    💡 Remember: linking to learn is for food exploration! Your Little may not quite be ready to eat all of these foods just yet! Celebrate the small steps like touching a new food, putting a new food on their noses, or even taking a small lick! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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    ⏰ Keep it fun and try not to stay at the table too long! Take 15-20 minutes total to present each food one at a time. Try this strategy during a snack time so as not to interrupt mealtimes. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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  • No Fowl Play involved in the Creation of These Fun Apple “Turkey” Pops!

    🦃 #PlayDay turkey style! We mixed crafting and food exposure in this fun activity to create our very own turkeys! ⠀

    👍🏼 What we used:⠀
    -apples sliced in circles⠀
    -melted chocolate ⠀
    -reeses peanut butter cups ⠀
    -candy corn ⠀
    -candy eyes ⠀
    -sprinkles ⠀

    Steps to create! ⠀
    1️⃣ slice apples in circle shapes ⠀
    2️⃣ place apple slices on kebab sticks ⠀
    3️⃣ melt chocolate chips and spread over apples⠀
    4️⃣ place peanut butter cup in middle ⠀
    5️⃣ align candy corn as feathers! ⠀
    6️⃣ add candy eyes, candy corn pieces, and sprinkles to make the face! ⠀

    🗣Some language we used:⠀

    ⭐️you can help wash the apples! ⠀
    ⭐️we can use our fingers to spread the chocolate!⠀
    ⭐️we can count out five candy corn pieces! ⠀
    ⭐️we can clean up together when we are all done! ⠀

    Enjoy!⠀

  • Fall Sensory Bin Fun!

    🍁 Colored leaves and happy kiddos please! This #PlayDay we have a fall leaf sensory bin that will not disappoint! With this sensory bin we are hoping to engage the eyes, ears, hands, and noses! 

    What we used:
    🍁 Fall leaves (you can use real or fake).

    🥜 Acorns that had fallen on the ground.

    👃 Cinnamon sticks.

    🌲 Pinecones.



    🤚 Optional:

    1. Kitchen tongs for our little ones that may not be ready to dive in with their hands.
    2. Extra seasonings or essential oils to sprinkle (or drop) on top for an intense scent activity!


    😃 Play-tip: see which item makes the loudest sound when FALLing into the bin!

    💡 Pro-tip: encourage your child to help gather fresh items from outside for this bin so that they are able to learn more about the growing process! Take some time to compare pictures of green leaves on trees to the way the trees are looking now. Look up a picture of an acorn when it first starts growing and compare it to what you found outside.


    🤔 Living in a more urban area with less access to fresh trees and leaves? Never fear, Target Dollar Spot and Amazon Prime never disappoint!

  • Fall Sensory Trays!

    This season we are LOVING the latest shake up for sensory bins and bags in the evolution of the sensory baking tray!

    This is a fun way to introduce your little one to a variety of new concepts!

    For our fall sensory baking sheet we used:

    🌻 Flowers (“These flowers have a BIG smell, they smell sweet!”)

    🧂 Pom-Poms (“Look! These pom-poms are so colorful! I can pick up the green one with my clip!”)

    🌲 Pinecones (“Wow! These pinecones feel bumpy!”)

    🕯 Artificial Candles (“Woah! These candles make my pom-pom look brighter!”)

    🧁 Silicone cupcake liners (“Look I can put my pinecones IN! Plop! Plop!”)

    🥨 Chip-Clips

    Feel free to sprinkle whatever seasoning you want on top! We love to use nutmeg, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spices this time of year!

    NOTE: If you don’t have “chip-clips” on hand, clothespins work great too!

    As always, remember this activity is a great opportunity to practice that neutral descriptive language while helping your little one learn all about different textures, shapes, sizes and scents!

  • Pumpkins and Peppers and Plums OH MY!

    This pumpkin season we look to all things fall and fun! If you’re looking for a fun play day activity look no further! We have found you can bring the joy of pumpkin carving season to just about any fruit or vegetable that you please!

    What we used:
    -small cookie cutters
    -child-safe knives (optional for older kiddos)
    -a variety of colored peppers
    -battery powered tealights (optional)

    ✅ We used adult-sized helping hands to assist in the removal of the top of the pepper

    ✅ Next, we encouraged kiddo-sized hands to do the scooping/removal of the seeds

    ✅ Then, we used small cookie cutters to make eyes, noses, and mouths

    ✅ Lastly, we plopped mini battery-powered tea lights in for a spooky-feel


    😃 Play-tip: This is a great opportunity to learn about shapes or even following directions! Have your little ones put their listening ears on to pick out circle-shaped cookie cutters versus square or star shapes!

    💡 Pro-tip: For some little ones, scooping out the seeds may seem overwhelming at first. Try offering a spoon as a “special pepper scooper” if they appear hesitant to interact with the insides of the pepper.

    🌶 Wondering what to do with your peppers after you finished carving and playing with them? We love to make a spooky stuffed pepper from our jack-o-lanterns for a scary fun meal you won’t forget!

    What if you don’t have peppers at home this week? Don’t worry! You can make any fruit or vegetable with a peelable rhine “spooky” simply by grabbing a sharpie and coloring on spooky faces with your little one (think oranges, bananas, even corn husks)! Be sure to talk about how the fruit or veggies feels while you hold it and if it has a big or small smell! Is it citrus scented? sweet? The possibilities are endless!

  • All About Apples 🍎

    Fall is creeping in all around us and this season we are loving all things APPLE! Looking for a few fun ways to shake up your usual sliced apple? We love letting our little ones help decorate everything from apple doughnuts –

    to apple nachos!

    feel free to provide any sort of topping, sprinkle or combination you and your little on can dream up together! We like to mix drizzles of caramel, chocolate, coconut cream or maybe even an apple sauce with fun sprinkles which can be anything from classic sprinkles, to crushed cereal, graham cracker or freeze dried fruit!

    While we’re thinking of apples don’t forget to peek at our post on how to use apples as a heavy-work sensory preparation activity here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CE2ejyApmTw/ !

    Looking for a few more fall fun ideas? Don’t miss our Fall FREEBIE Scavenger hunt handout here: https://falling-grass-1079.ck.page/d8dffec670

  • FACT FRIDAY: The MOST and LEAST Likely Food Allergens

    🥘 We are often asked about allergens, so we decided to share the 8 most common foods that are likely to present as allergens according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and some of the least likely from one of our favorite books Nobody Ever Told me or my Mother That by Diane Bhar.

    🚨 Most likely: Milk (dairy), eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, peanuts, soy, and treenuts] (Bahr, 2010, p. 73).


    ✅ Least likely: Apples, asparagus, avocado, barley, broccoli, carrots, chicken, lettuce, mangoes, oats, peaches, pears, sunflower oil, salmon, lamb, turkey, rice, squash, sweet potatoes, pears, olive oil — and these are just some of the many least likely food options (Bahr, 2010, p. 73-74).

    🔍 Some of the common symptoms to note if you feel your child is experiencing a food allergy are: stuffy or runny nose, wheezing and/or coughing, constipation or diarrhea, gas or abdominal pain, bad breath, gagging or vomiting, excessive colic like behaviors, refusal/dislike of touch, reoccuring sinus/ear and/or chest infections, dark circles or bags around the eyes, red cheeks and/or ear lobes, rashes, eczema, difficulty sleeping, excessive rocking and/or banging head, excessive drooling or perspires easily (Bahr, 2010, p. 72).

    💡 It is important to introduce one new food at a time to help identify if your child has a food allergy and wait between 3 to 5 days between each new food (CDC, 2018). Be sure to discuss any concerns with your child’s physician and possibly discuss a referral to a pediatric allergist.

    🤷‍♀️ How does this relate to picky eating?

    This is a top question that we ask during an evaluation. Not only is it for safety, but think about how you feel when you eat something and have discomfort. Allergen symptoms can sometimes be traumatic and/or uncomfortable for the little ones, and we can sometimes use this as an indicator of when “picky eating” started if symptoms were noted and eating decreased. There are many other areas that can lead to picky eating, but this one that we always include in our assessments.

    References:
    Bahr, D. (2010) Nobody Ever Told Me or my Mother That! Arlington, Texas: Sensory World.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, December 3). When, What, and How to Introduce Solid Foods. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/InfantandToddlerNutrition/foods-and-drinks/when-to-introduce-solid-foods.html

    *We also recommend checking out the American Academy of Pediatrics website for more information on food allergies!

  • SWEET POTATO – 20 Ways to Play

    1. Play “hot potato!” Pass the potato around while the music is playing. When it stops (assign someone to be the music pauser), whoever has the potato has to do a silly potato dance! 
    2. Try your hand at building a tower! Use sweet potato cubes and toothpicks to build towers! See who can make the tallest tower! 
    3. Make a sweet potato peel sensory bin! Use those peels and place them into a container to make your sensory bin! Place small toys inside and go digging to find them! Tip: if your Little isn’t ready to touch the squishy peels, give them a kitchen tool like tongs or scoops to help them dig to find the objects! 
    4. Play find the potato! Get out three cups and bowls and hide the sweet potato under one of them. Mix them all around and then practice guessing which cup/bowl the potato is under! 
    5. Try your hand at heavy work! Stack potatoes into a bin and push them around the house! OR use potatoes as your pretend weights and practice doing bicep curls like you’re super heroes! 
    6. Can you balance a sweet potato?! Try a balancing contest with holding a potato on your forehead/nose! Make sure to talk about how the potato feels and smells! 
    7. Have a sweet potato play! Dress your sweet potatoes up with ribbons or pipe cleaners and act out a play! Pretend they’re your Littles favorite TV show or book characters! 
    8. Make your best guess! Work on number recognition and practice making educated guesses! Weigh sweet potatoes on food scales (or your home scale)! Whoever had the closest guess wins! 
    9. Pretend to be your favorite animal! Grab sweet potato slices (stick-shaped) and pretend to have walrus tasks, snake fangs, unicorn horns, deer antlers, and more! 
    10. Use your nose! Bake your sweet potato slices with different scents (cinnamon, paprika, parmesan cheese, and more). Place them in a non-see through container and barely lift the lid to take a smell and guess! Make it easier by placing the scent options on the counter and try to match them correctly!
    11. Crunch contest! Enjoy making (or grab a bag of) sweet potato chips and see who can make the loudest crunch! Is it louder when you crunch with your front or back teeth? hand or finger!
    12. Raw Jenga – Cut a sweet potato into thin (stick shaped) strips and build your own Jenga tower! When you’re done exploring, simply rinse the “blocks” and enjoy preparing fresh sweet potato fries together!
    13. Make a sweet potato porcupine! Grab a sweet potato, a handful of golf tees and a child-safe hammer and help your porcupine make sure all of his spikes are safely in place!
    14. Potato avalanche! Let your little help you pour your sweet potatoes from bowl to bowl, be sure to call out “AVALANCHE” !
    15. Dinosaur footprints – Slice your potato into cubes and steam well, lay out a handful of the cubes and let your little help you “smash” down the cubes with a fork to make “dinosaur footprints!” (Bonus alert! This turns into great mashed sweet potatoes for dinner!)
    16. Sweet potato stamps – slice your sweet potato in half and carve out a fun shape (think stars, hearts, circles, etc!). Grab some fun food paint (think ketchup, sour cream, mustard, etc) and paper plates or construction paper and stamp away!
    17. Sweet potato experiment – Check out this fun experiment from pre-k-pages here!
    18. Give a size comparison activity a go! Grab a handful of sweet potato chips or fries and line them up. Let your little help you sort them into groups based on length, width, shape, etc!
    19. Sweet potato snow – let your little help you shred a sweet potato and sprinkle it lightly or in heaps in to a bowl or on to a plate! Use your hands as snow plows and knock down those big “snow piles” together!
    20. Expose, Expose, Expose! Remember, consistency is key!