Helpful Hints: Snack Time Isn’t Just for Snacking!
Since school is out, we have snack time at 10 and 2. I learned quickly if it were up to the brothers, snack time would be all day long. They can scarf down a pint of berries under a minute or devour a Costco sized bag of pretzels. This is a favorite time of the day when we slow down a bit. They practice different skills without knowing they are practicing. Snack time isn’t just for snacking! Here is a peak into what happens:
First - I have each of them choose a muffin tin or plate out of the cupboard and bring it to the counter. I know playing with your food should be fun, but I think for parents it should be manageable. It makes my skin crawl when yogurt migrates onto the walls and chairs and across the room or when berry slime squishes into the floor. I love these plates from a shop called Dylbug because the brothers enjoy playing and setting up scenes with their food. I also love how they incur just the right amount of cleanup.
The brothers love this road one...but they love their snacks more. The grapes couldn’t stay on the plate long enough for a picture.
Second – They prepare their own food. This is a great life skill to learn early. My youngest washes the fruit and arranges it on his plate…or it just makes its way to his mouth. My older son is the prep-cook and cuts up his favorite berries or carrots. He also assists with retrieving the snacks from the pantry and setting them on the plate.
Last- Do not forget the clean up. Have them empty their trash and carry their plate to the sink. That is one less step for you!
Snack time can incorporate numerous life skills. From gathering the items needed to prepare the snack (e.g. plate, fork, knife, cup, variety of food items) to washing, cutting or even practice opening packages, these are important skills to practice and learn. Making a shopping list of their favorite snacks by writing or choosing from a picture array is another good skill to practice.
Snack time should be rich language time too. A myriad of concepts can be integrated.
Here are some ideas for your consideration:
Sorting- Sorting is essential knowledge not only for language but also for math concepts. Sort into different colors or attributes. We’ll talk about berries since that is our favorite item to consume. Which berries have stems? Which berries have seeds? Which berries are bigger or smaller? Round? Long? Which berries are GROSS?
Following directions- Bring the plate over here. Get your cup. Remember to keep the directions short so comprehension increases. Following directions can be tricky as the demands increase (e.g. trying to find the plate, picking out their favorite plate, remembering to get a fork, fighting with siblings)
Comparing and contrasting- How are our snacks the same? How are they different? This is a great time to talk about different describing words.
Pretend Play- We love to play dinosaur at our house. Someone is always growling and stomping somewhere. We also sometimes do not like to eat what is in front of us. However if we pretend like we are say, a brontosaurus, whatever is on our plate most of the time ends up in our mouth.
If your child uses AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) or pictures to communicate the following “power” words could be word targets at meal time- want, more, like, don’t like, go in, make, drink, eat, stop. Think about giving your child the option of saying these high frequency words WITH their snack choice noun (e.g. want eat crackers, don’t like yogurt). These high frequency words enhance their communication.
How do you use language to have fun during snack time?