• 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!
  • Deconstruct to Instruct – TACO EDITION

    🤔 Wondering what this strategy is all about? This is a simple, yet effective way to help little ones that are learning how to master eating a variety of food all mixed together! This can sometimes be a challenge as mixed food may be overwhelming visually, by smell and taste or may even be a challenge for them to chew at first! Hence, let’s deconstruct these mixed foods to instruct our little ones!

    ✅ We recommend following these six steps across a week or two in time!

    – Step one: introduce each ingredient (shell, meat, cheese, lettuce, salsa, etc.) separately and not in the same meal

    – Step two: gradually introduce two foods (separated) on the same plate during a meal time
    – Step three: serve all foods on the same plate (separated) during a meal time
    – Step four: serve all foods with two having a connection (meat on a tortilla shell, salsa on lettuce)
    – Step five: provide a small portion of all foods mixed together on the same plate as a regular meal (a regular meal with a mini taco on the side)
    – Step six: serve a full taco!

    🚨 Keep in mind, this strategy is meant to assist with exposure and comfort with mixed textures. It is important for you to model these steps at the same time as your child as this is crucial to the “instruct” piece. When you interact with the food in this progression, you have the opportunity to teach them that salsa is spicy or that putting cheese on hot meat can make it melt! 

  • 20 Ways to Play – Apples

    1. Apple donuts! Slice your apples into circles, cut out the middle and decorate your apple donuts! 
    2. Bob for apples! Place apples into a bucket of water and have fun scooping them with ladles or if you have an older child you can attempt traditional apple bobbing! 
    3. Science experiment! Dissect the apples and go hunting for those seeds! 
    4. Smell test! Grab a green, yellow, and red apple to compare the smells of each color! Try first with eyes open and then again with eyes closed to see if you can match the smell to the right apple! 
    5. Red light, green light! Try playing this traditional game, but instead of shouting out “red light, green light” hold the apples up high!
    6. Get the paint out and try apple stamping! Cut the apples in half and use each half to dip in different color paints! Decorate away! 
    7. Try singing a new song! “Roll, roll, roll the apple, roll it to and fro. Roll, roll, roll the apple watch me let it go!” 
    8. Practice counting! Slice up those apples, draw a number and practice counting out the right amount of slices together!
    9. Learn about how apples grow! Watch a short video on apple trees growing! 
    10. Make a fun apple wand! Grab some kid-friendly kebab sticks (or even a starbucks drink stopper) and put some apple pieces on to make your very own wand! 
    11. Color sorting! Get those three different colors back out and grab red, green, and yellow pieces of paper! Have your little sort the slices onto the correct piece of paper! 
    12. Science experiment part two! Slice up your apple and dip it into different liquids to see which slices will stay fresh the longest. Try lemon juice, apple juice, lime juice, etc.! Leave your slices labeled and observe them for a few days! 
    13. Working on shapes in your home? Slice your apples into sticks and start constructing your very own shapes! 
    14. Make mini caramel apples! Slice your apples into wedges, place them on sticks, dip them in caramel and provide a variety of toppings for your little to decorate with! 
    15. Practice your emotion faces! Use apple slices to make pretend happy faces with an apple smile, angry faces with apple eyebrows, or sad faces with apple tears! 
    16. Change the smell of the house! Bake some apples up in a crock pot and see how the smell changes! 
    17. Apple ramps! Get together different things in your home like baking sheets or serving platters and make your own ramps to slide those apples down! Practice counting to send them down! Release them with your hands, or if your little is ready, try holding apples in their mouths at the starting line! 
    18. Apple smashing! Grab out a chopper and smash apples like pretend monsters! 
    19. Apple toss! Stand across from each other and toss apples back and forth! For younger kiddos, sing a song while you do this! For older kiddos, try naming different words that start with “A” while you toss!
    20. Expose, Expose, Expose! Remember, continued presentation matters!
  • 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.