• Linking to Learn – Poptarts to Raspberries

    🔗 Another linking to learn! Poptarts ➡️ Raspberries ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    🔗 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! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    💡 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! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    ⏰ 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. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 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! ⠀


  • 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.

    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!
  • Back to School for Littles with Food Allergies – Insight from Paige Wagner RDN, LD

    Hi there!

    It’s Paige here, and I am so excited to be sharing more blog posts about food allergy tips for children and their parents! You can get to know me a little better by checking out last week’s post, 7 Tips for Parents of Children with Newly Diagnosed Food Allergies.

    “Back-to-school” is looking a little different for everyone this year. It appears everyone is stuck with deciding if their child will be attending in person or virtually, or maybe your school district has already made their decision regarding COVID-19. Regardless, the following back to school tips for children with food allergies can come in handy for homeschooling (if someone else will be watching your children) or in a typical classroom setting.

    1. Be informed. Check into your school’s policies and procedures regarding food allergies. What staff is trained to administer an epi-pen? Are the cafeteria workers familiar with how to handle food allergies? Don’t be afraid to ask these questions and provide them with information about training through the following link: https://www.foodallergy.org/keeping-students-safe-and-included . This course is FREE and there are six August training dates available.
    2. Prepare and Provide: Submit all required medical documentation to your school along with any prescribed medicines. Make sure staff knows how to properly care for an epi-pen (i.e.: they should not be shared and should not be kept in warm temperatures). Check out this article on how storing an epi-pen in a car can cause it to be up to 14% less effective: https://www.aaaai.org/about-aaaai/newsroom/news-releases/epipens-heat
    3. Communication is Key: Make sure you teach your child who to ask for help when they have food allergy questions and concerns, and how to handle an allergic reaction. Meet with staff ahead of time to help your child and the staff feel comfortable.
    4. School Meals: Many school meals are going to be consumed in the classroom this year to aid in social distancing. Speak with your child’s teacher about their allergen and make a plan for when they eat around others. Some schools have nut-free policies, but always have a plan in place in case another student packs them. Make sure desks are wiped off with soap (not just sanitizer) to effectively remove the food allergy protein).
    5. Transportation: If your child rides a school bus, make sure the bus driver is familiar with how to handle an allergic reaction. This includes informing bus drivers for field trips too.
    6. Self-Management: Confidence in key. Make sure that your child feels confident in how to handle an allergic reaction. This means knowing who to go to, where their epi-pen/medicine can be located, etc. This will help reduce panic if an allergic reaction should occur.

    Now that we have reviewed the tough stuff, let’s talk snacks! Here are a few of my favorite allergen free snacks that I share with students at my job.

    Zego Fruit Bars (and other products):

    These tasty fruit bars come in a variety of flavors, including raspberry, blueberry, cherry, pear, lemon ginger, sunflower date, fudgy chocolate, and cherry chia! They also make delicious granola packs too. Shop their full collection here: https://zegofoods.com/

    Zego Just Fruit Bars | Flavorpalooza

    Made Good Bars

    These can be found in local grocery stores such as Meijer, Kroger and Walmart.


    Found: Safe snacks for back-to-school | Ottawa Citizen

    88 Acres Products

    88 Acres has a wide variety of products, all of which are made from seeds! They have granola bars, salad dressings, seed butters and a recipe page on their website: https://88acres.com/ . If you are feeling adventurous, you can even check out their roasted watermelon seed butter.

    Seed Bar Sample Pack

    Comment below if you decide to try any of these products out. Have a great week!

  • Deconstruct to Instruct – Wraps

    #DeconstructToInstruct with wraps! This is a new strategy we introduced to help little ones become more comfortable with mixed foods. ⬇️ Check out this gradual progression with steps below:

    1️⃣ Step one: Introduce each ingredient (tortilla, cheese, meat, lettuce, condiment) separately and not in the same meal

    2️⃣ Step two: Gradually introduce two foods (separated) on the same plate during a meal time

    3️⃣ Step three: Serve all of the wrap ingredients on the same plate (separated) during a meal time

    4️⃣ Step four: Serve all of the wrap ingredients with two having a connection (cheese & meat in same shape stacked on top of each other, small amounts of condiments on top of lettuce)

    5️⃣ Step five: Provide a small portion of all foods mixed together on the same plate as a regular meal (a mini pinwheel slice of the wrap)

    6️⃣ Step six: Serve a meal-sized portion (can be served as multiple pinwheels or a whole wrap)