The kitchen offers a wide variety of preschool sensory play options.
We love getting kids in the kitchen, and the more fun you can make it the better. Here’s a list of ideas for cooking, eating and playing in the kitchen.
Some of these ideas came from our wonderful Occupational Therapist, some from myself and many from the book The Out of Sync Child Has Fun (can’t recommend it enough.)
Mouth work can be amazingly centering for kids. These aren’t big activities in themselves, but can be a good thing to include in a snack or meal time.
- Drink a smoothie or milkshake through a straw
- Drink yogurt or apple sauce or pudding through a straw- Oh how thrilling!
- Use a little coffee straw or a narrower-than-usual curly straw to drink water or juice
Spread any of the following on crackers, tortillas, fruit or bread.
- Nut Butter
- Cream Cheese
- And finally- you can try finger painting with pudding if you’re not opposed to sticky-ness.
Using cookie cutters to cut out shapes is a good ‘heavy work’ activity for kids. What all to cut?
- Cookies, naturally…
- Cheese crisps (quesadillas)
- Slices of fruit or cheese (with mini cookie cutters)
- Potatoes or yams
- Cooked apples or pears
- Butter and sugar or butter and flour for baking- my kids love using the dough cutter to moosh butter
- Rolling out cookie dough is also great fun, of course
- To make small pieces of nuts, candy, or crumbs you can put the ingredient in a plastic bag and have your kid roll that with a rolling pin.
- Take out the spice jars and smell ’em!
- Let your child smell the vanilla, lemon, garlic etc. that you’re cooking with.
- Drip some scents onto cotton balls or paper towel bits (Use scents such as vanilla, lemon, vinegar, almond extract; basically anything that can be transferred to a cotton ball.) Make two of each scent and have your child match up the scents.
Use descriptive words to talk about the foods you’re eating. I like to encourage my kids to explore the tastes of foods before they outright reject them. Even if something is “yucky” you can ask, “Is it sour? Bitter?” and so on. Sometimes just labeling a sensation makes it interesting rather than bad.
- Eat something with interesting texture: chewy, crunchy or maybe silky or smooth
- Have a tasting with a few different foods (whatever is on your snack plate at the moment is fine.) Ask questions like, “Which food here tastes salty? Which ones are sweet? What does this food make you think about? “
- Make up a toothpick snack (or a whole dinner if you want to be your kids hero.) where every thing is in cubes to be stabbed. If you have large tongs these can be fun for this snack too.
Do you have a favorite way to play in the kitchen? I’d love to hear them so I can add them to our repertoire!
Happy Playful Eating! More ideas for simple play for preschoolers can be found in my collaborative ebook: Three to Five: Playful Preschool