Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sensory Snacks

Any parents ever notice the way you present something new to a child makes all the difference in how they respond? The week of Christmas, I had a HUGE vegetable platter leftover from an early family Christmas. In an attempt to get it all eaten before they went bad, I gave the kids a small plate of mac and cheese and then laid the vegetable platter in the middle of the table and let them have it. Needless to say, I've never seen kids attack veggies the way those kids did that day. Even the kids who are typically picky about their veggies, willingly and excitedly tried everything on the tray.

Since that day, I've been toying with the idea of doing sensory snacks. Much like the veggie tray, present them with numerous fruits and veggies and let them have at it. A recent cold making its way through the kids has prevented me from doing a large fruit/veggie tray for them. Instead I decided to put different kinds of fruits and veggies on their own plates and let them touch, smell, eat, lick, and explore on their plates.

They were just as enthusiastic about the sensory snack plates as they were the giant veggie tray.
I presented the fruit sensory plate (grape fruit chunks, apple slices, mango, kiwi, and clementines) for their morning snack. All of the kids eagerly tried everything on their plates. Of the 9 kids I had, only 2 didn't finish everything on the plate. Several of the kids asked for more of almost everything. I was most surprised that the kids ate (and liked!) the grapefruit. I expected most of the kids to lick it and poke at it but not eat it. The mangos and kiwi were their favorite on the plate.
I presented the vegetable sensory plate (fresh spinach leaves, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and freshly shredded cheese) for afternoon snack (which I why I added some cheese to the mix). Once again, I was surprised at how eager the kids were to try everything on their plate. Overall they didn't enjoy the veggies as much as the fruit, but I was pleasantly surprised at how they happily tried everything. Their favorite thing on the plate was the fresh spinach leaves. This comes as no surprise to me as I've been serving it as a veggie side at lunch for the last week. It's become a new favorite side around here and my minis have started eating it for snacks. The least favorite thing was the broccoli, although the kids definitely had fun playing trees and bushes with them! I was happy to see that the more they played with their "trees," the more they taste tested them. Whoever said not to play with your food needs to spend a day here and see what can come from it!
The kids made spinach, lettuce, and cheese "sandwiches" to eat. They loved their "sandwiches" so much that they asked for more...and more...and a few more after that! That makes a good veggie sandwich apparently!

While I always serve plenty for fresh fruits and veggies, I had yet to present them to the kids like this. I have an excellent group of kiddies who are pretty good about eating their fruits and veggies anyway, but I was happy (and surprised) to see how excited they were about their spreads of fruits and vegetables. I will definitely be doing this again when berries are in season and trying out squash, zucchinis, and cucumbers in their next sensory snack. If you're looking for a way to get your kids to eat their fruits and veggies, I highly recommend trying this. You may be surprised by the outcome!