• Family Style Serving – What’s the big idea?

    First of all, what is family style serving?

    Family style serving involves presenting foods via a platter or bowl and passing the dishes around the table to that everyone can help serve their own portion onto their own plate.

    Wondering why this might help your learning eater? As always, remember exposure is key, it is each and every repeated exposure to a new, novel or non-preferred food that bring us forward on the journey to accepting new foods.

    Wondering what this might look like?

    We LOVE using Melanie Potock, MA CCC-SLP’s “Big Scoop, Small Sample” strategy. This strategy utilizes a big serving spoon (e.g., think a classic serving spoon) and a small serving spoon (e.g., this can be an ice cream tasting spoon, a child-size or infant spoon, a teaspoon, maybe even a plastic popsicle stick!).

    Next, as per Melanie, you establish the family rule: “We ALL put a bit of everything on our plate.” Don’t worry if you’re late to the game starting this routine, it’s okay to tell your little one “we have a NEW family rule” and then explain!

    *PLEASE NOTE* – the rule is placing a “bit” of food on our plates, the expectation is not a bite of every food – it’s simply to tolerate having new and novel foods on our plate. Remember, this is the first step working in the direction of one-day someday tasting a new or novel food!

    Once you’ve established the rule and talked about it with your family, it’s time to get started! Add the big and small spoon to each bowl when you serve family style that night. Help your little one feel empowered in their ability to make a choice about what goes on to their plate by offering them the choice, “do you want a BIG scoop or a TINY scoop/sample?” Feel free to remind them of the family rule before you get started and it can often help to serve yourself first as a visual model. This might sounds like: “Don’t forget our new family rule! We all put a bit of each food on our plate! I’ll scoop first, I’m taking a big scoop of noodles tonight, here honey, do you want a BIG scoop or a tiny sample of noodles? First it’s your choice and then daddy will choose if he is going to take a big or tiny sample!”

    Remember –

    It can be helpful to start by serving one of your little one’s preferred foods first (e.g., mac and cheese) – “I have a tiny taste of mac and cheese on my plate, here, would you like to get a big scoop or a tiny scoop?” to get the new routine going!

    Want more information on this strategy?

    Don’t miss Melanie’s posts here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CCrjrv8BB7A/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link & https://www.instagram.com/p/CCRrXaAhfUC/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

    Want more information on why family style meals matter?

    Check out Melanie’s article on The Today Parenting Team here: https://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/the-pandemic-the-return-of-family-mealtimes

    Don’t miss this quick clip discussing how family dinners make good readers here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88JOFbrA9F0

  • A Sensory Splash!

    Make a splash this summer with a giant sensory bin!

    Grab a giant bucket from your local hardware or dollar store and fill it up with different shape and textured rocks, then fill the remainder up with water.

    Practice dipping your hands (or toes!) in while practicing using that neutral descriptive language!

    Working on animal sounds? Why not add a few animals in there! Working on colors? Add colored stones and help your little dig for “yellow treasure! now blue treasure!”

    A Look at Language:

    “Look! this rock is so bumpy!” 

    “Wow! My toes feel wet!”

    “Brrr… this water feels cold and wet like an ice pop!”

    “Look this rock is so slippery!”

    “Woah! That splash felt just like when I pop a grape on my BIG teeth!”

    Practicing your descriptive language outside of mealtimes can help make that neutral descriptive language flow easily and naturally come meal/snack time! So go ahead and DIVE in! 🙂

  • TOMATO – 20 Ways to Play

    1. Make your own salsa – Make sure your little one is as involved in the preparation as is age-appropriate for them!
    2. Build a ladybug with cherry tomatoes and black olive pieces OR use large tomato slices as wings for a butterfly!
    3. Try a farmers’ Market scavenger hunt to find different tomatoes and colors 
    4. Read “Too Many Tomatoes” and write notes to share with others along with a basket of tomatoes 
    5. Scoop out the inside of tomatoes and use them as bowls 
    6. Count how many seeds you can find in a tomato 
    7. Make kebabs with cherry tomatoes and your choice of toppings 
    8. Play “hot tomato” to the tune of “hot potato”
    9. Grow your own potted tomato plant 
    10. Bob for tomatoes in the summer heat (use large tomatoes )
    11. Make your own tomato shapes with cookie cutters! 
    12. Craft a tomato with a paper plate and crayons, markers, or paint!
    13. Feeling extra creative? Use tomato juices to make your own paint for your tomato craft or for any artwork!
    14. Play “Find the Tomato.” Use three cups and hide the tomato under one! Mix them up and guess where it ends up! 
    15. Cut up your tomatoes or use cherry tomatoes to practice making letters! Arrange letters to learn about sounds like “t” for “tomato! 
    16. Play “red light, green light.” Elect one person to be “it” and go back and forth between green and red tomatoes being held up high. When green is in the air, run! When red is in the air, STOP!
    17. Make your own pizzas and spread that tomato sauce together!
    18. Tomato sauce face paint – can you both make a silly clown nose? Why not some red lipstick? How about a polk-a-dot tongue!
    19. Squeeze a tomato together and sample fresh tomato juice? Is it sour? Sweet? Tart?
    20. Expose, Expose, Expose! Remember, consistency is key!
  • Oh My Stars – Sensory Bin Fun!

    ⭐️ What we used:
    -star shaped mini marshmallows
    -fun little star shape toys
    -a *magical* star wand

    💫 It was a magically, marshmallowy good time playing in this! With our little ones we discussed:

    +How squishy these marshmallows are!

    +How soft and fluffy they are!

    +How easy to tear with our hands!

    +How many fun colors there are to find in this bin!

    🤚 We like to use sensory bins to help our little ones “warm up” before heading to the table. This gives then time to engage with a food (in this case marshmallows) with the focus exclusively on play! Sensory bins are a a great way to expose your little one to new and novel foods, scents, textures, etc!

  • S’more Summer Tips!

    We’re embracing the outdoors and aiming to soak up all of the sunshine we can here in Michigan this summer! Join us for s’more fun tips!

    S’mores are a summertime favorite. We love putting a BERRY fresh twist on your traditional s’more by smashing berries (think raspberries, blackberries, etc)& spreading them onto our crackers!

    Need a calorie booster? Try spreading coconut oil or adding a nut butter spread – maybe even use a peanut butter cup with your nut butter spread!

    Sometimes a little change of scene can go a LONG way in helping your little one feel more comfortable exploring new foods with you! Pack up a picnic & head to a park (or even into your own backyard!), let your little help you pack the picnic and set it out! 

    Let your little one help you collect sticks of varying shapes and sizes from your backyard (or maybe a park near you!). Enjoy building forts or pretend play building “fires” together – this is a great opportunity to develop pretend play skills, teach comparative size (e.g., big, small, tiny, long) &locational (e.g., on top, under, by) concepts (e.g., “look! I can put the little tiny stick – on top of the big long one!). Keep practicing that language and relate what you can to foods (e.g., “look! this stick is brown&thick like a sausage, let’s pretend to roast it!).

    Stay Cool!


    Ashleigh, Natalie and Molly

  • July Food Fun!

    ❌⭕️ Looking for a fun way to engage your little with novel foods?

    Why not play a fun round or two of Tic Tac Toe!

    We used some fun cut-outs and a couple different foods from a variety of food groups to play an awesome game!

    This is such a fun, simple way to get our littles hands on with foods!

    💡 Bonus: it can also be an easy way to work on shape recognition and turn-taking!

  • I’m Learning About…KALE

    1. Make your own instruments! Place kale pieces into containers and shake them around like maracas! Bonus: Name your band something simple such as “Kale Crew”
    2. Use kale in food art! Make the kale grass or leaves on a tree! 
    3. Place kale into a smoothie! Do a science experiment to slowly add a little bit more and compare the colors as you go! 
    4. Make kale chips! Have your Little help you prep in the kitchen! 
    5. Put together a kale bouquet! Fill a small cup with water and place kale pieces inside together! 
    6. Create your own kale sensory bin! Have your Little practice ripping up pieces and place them into a container. Use toy animals to have a pretend farm!
    7. Have a kale race! Use kitchen tongs, a chip clip, or a clothespin to pick up a piece of kale and race it to the other side of the kitchen! 
    8. Play hide and seek! Take a large piece of kale and hide it around! 
    9. Put together a sensory bottle with kale! Fill a bottle up with water, kale pieces, and other ingredients of your choosing such as other greens or even food coloring! 
    10. Use kale pieces as paint brushes! Paint with dips or other condiments! Hold the brush in your hands or even between your teeth for a silly time!
  • LETTUCE – 20 Ways to Play

    1. Lettuce Sensory Bin – Shred your lettuce and place it into a washable bin. Go diving for hidden treasure (carrots, broccoli, etc.) Talk about the way the lettuce feels on your hands or even how it smells! 
    2. Lettuce Boats – Grab a romaine heart and peel it apart! Make your pieces into boats! Practice floating them on water or filling them with pretend cargo! 
    3. UpUp and Away – Start with a few small pieces of lettuce (or go larger if you are up for a challenge). Work on calming and oral motor skills by making a race out of blowing lettuce pieces across the table or competing to see who can keep their piece in the air for the longest! 
    4. Lettuce Stamps – Cut the bottom off of a romaine heart and grab out some pretend paint like French Dressing and make lettuce stamps on paper. Hang up your artwork on the fridge! 
    5. Mustaches/Eyebrows – Get silly by giving yourself a fun new look with lettuce mustaches or bushy green eyebrows and act out a fun skit or try silly voices with your new face! 
    6. Lettuce Head Bowling – Use your lettuce head along with some pretend bowling bins like plastic cups. Roll your head along the table to knock down the cups. Try rolling the lettuce head with your hands or even your noses! 
    7. DIY Potato Lettuce Head – Grab a head of lettuce and the body parts from a potato head set. Let your little one help you add all kinds of silly faces to your lettuce head!
    8. Snip-Snip – Use your kitchen scissors for older kids, or child safe scissors for younger littles, and practice those cutting skills. Maybe add fun noises like your scissors are eating the lettuce!  
    9. DIY Maracas – Grab a tupperware or cup with a lid and a bag of shredded lettuce. Let your little one help you place a handful or two into the container and place the lid on top. Shake your new maraca and make your own music together! Feel free to add more lettuce as you go to “shake-up” the sound!  
    10.  Change Color – Become scientists by placing a leaf of lettuce into a cup of water with added food coloring, and watch it change colors as it absorbs the colored water. 
    11. Grow Your Own Lettuce – This is a great way to teach your little about where lettuce comes from!
    12. Lettuce Hats – Build your own lettuce hats. See how many leaves you can stack before they fall down!
    13. Lettuce Wrap Hide & Seek – Take 3 large lettuce leaves and one small item that will fit unseen underneath (e.g., a penny, small toy, etc). Place/”hide” the item under one of the leaves and then mix the order of the three leaves. Have your little guess which one the toy is under and the lift the leaf to “peek” and see!
    14. Kale chips! Check out this kid friendly quick and easy kale chip recipe here: https://www.superhealthykids.com/recipes/kale-chips/
    15. Lettuce Crunch Contest – Take a few pieces of lettuce and see who can make the BIGGEST, LOUDEST crunch! If your little is older, it can help to try a comparison across different types of lettuce!
    16. Lettuce Letters – Take pieces of lettuce and use them to practice letters or spelling short words together!
    17. Blindfolded Sweet Swap – Take a few different types of lettuce (e.g., butter, spinach, iceberg, etc) and set up a blind folded taste, scent or texture test! See who can identify which is which!
    18. Lettuce Airplanes – take large leaves of lettuce (e.g., from a lettuce head) and load them up with your littles favorite action figures or items. Pretend play and fly those airplanes allllll over!
    19. Lettuce Look Up Lettuce Jokes – Enjoy reading through a few silly lettuce jokes with your little! Our favorite is: “Knock-Knock, who’s there? Lettuce. Lettuce who? Lettuce in it’s cold out here!”
    20. Expose, Expose, Expose! Remember, consistency is key!