We are quite positive you have heard the “let them play with their food” advice by now. Sure, it’s a great place to start for our learning eaters, but do you ever find yourself running a little low on imagination [and chronically low on sleep]? Here at Our Table, we are going to be talking about a new food each week and providing 20 ways to play that’ll keep your little ones engaged! Remember, our goal is for your little ones to interact with these new foods while becoming more comfortable and adventurous, which means we recommend avoiding any pressure for them to eat these items! Keep it playful and enjoy!
1) Broccoli makes great trees of all sizes! Bonus points if you can include some fine motor work by “picking leaves” off the tree!
2) Stamping anyone? Grab your condiments, ditch the nice clothing, and get to stamping! We recommend using a dip your child already prefers for this stamp party as that will encourage them to interact more with broccoli as we all crave familiarity!
3) Use your senses! One of our favorite things to do is to talk about food properties (texture, smell, color, feeling, etc.). What better way to mix it up than to compare the feeling of raw, steamed, and frozen broccoli!
4) Broccoli floral arrangements. Have your kids help chop some larger pieces with kid-friendly knives and arrange in a non-breakable item [reusable cup]. Try adding dots of mustard for the center of the flowers! If you’re feeling really crafty, try sticking shaved carrot sticks in as petals!
5) Broccoli and bowling! Line your little broccoli florets up [you may need to use a puree/dip to assist them in standing] and use a small ball to knock them over. Pro-tip: incorporate another veggie by using a radish as the bowling ball.!
6) Broccoli in the ocean. Fill up a bowl or plastic container with water and some underwater sea creatures. Have your little ones swim their sharks around the broccoli seaweed!
7) While we are talking water….try the float or sink test! You can use a variety of fruits/vegetables for this one [try this while you’re already cleaning your produce!] Make it more fun by taking predictions and using a dramatic countdown, or drumroll!
8) Want to incorporate literacy? Have your child break apart smaller pieces of broccoli to work on creating their letters! Try taping a piece of wax paper over a large letter from a tracing book to assist them.
9) Broccoli as a bath? Your little ones can get small pieces of broccoli wet and use them as a pretend loofa with dolls. Or, try making a broccoli car wash!
10) Broccoli fronds are fun! Cut off the fronds [small pieces on the head of the broccoli] and get to creating! They can be grass, carpet, sprinkles, stars, and so much more!
11) Broccoli and the beat! Longer pieces of broccoli can be drumsticks! Try making music on toy drums or the bottoms of cups/pots and pans!
12) While we are talking music, is it a stretch to make a broccoli microphone? Keep in mind that this means getting broccoli fairly close to the mouth which may be a challenge for little ones with extreme picky eating – keep it fun and if they are having a hard time try wrapping a food-safe cling wrap around it to see if they warm up to it more.
13) Bet you can’t wait to try out broccoli smiley faces! Line your broccoli up in different arrangements and on different backgrounds for your own fun creations. Bonus if you can make a broc-moji!
14) 5 Little Broccoli Jumping on the Pan! You heard that right! Let’s mix up an old song with something new! Have them “jump” off the pan into water for cooking or washing to incorporate during mealtime!
15) Why not try a broccoli garden? Pro-tip: find some “dirt” that your child already loves (chocolate pudding, crumbled oreos, etc.) to plant your broccoli plants in as this will make interaction easier!
16) Broccoli blending time! Stick with me here: If you have a high-power blender try tossing some cooked broccoli in there for some “green paint!”
17) Broccoli tots make a great introduction. Try rolling the tots, stacking the tots, or even smashing them!
18) “Find the broccoli!” Play hide and seek with the broccoli (within the boundaries of the kitchen) for a few minutes before dinner!
19) Toss the broccoli! Try tossing the broccoli back and forth before it heads into its “bath.” See if you can gradually encourage your child to hold it for longer and longer each turn!
20) Finally, serve the broccoli! Remember, they may not eat it, but it is great exposure for them to have it on their plates!