As my regular readers will know, BBG has trouble with eating and we have just been told to do a lot of food sensory activities to encourage her to eat different textures. added to the mix MO has sensory processing problems, this affects everyday activities including eating and playing. One of the biggest struggles he has is wet play, he can touch water and get wet, but has to change pretty much straight away if he feels any dampness on his skin. So we started at looking at how to get all the children incorporated in the sensory food play.
When Judit from Judit Bakes, got in contact with me recently; as she was writing about food sensory play for the magazine Teach Early Years Magazine ,for their September issue; I jumped at the opportunity to be able to trial some of her activities.
In her article Judit says
Eating, trying a variety of foods regularly upsets children with special needs, who often have compromised sensory processing. Edible sensory play can motivate them, to help introduce them – without a force – to food that’s good for them.
This introduction of foods is a very real deal for us and we are now looking at anyway to get MO to eat a variety of foods and BBG to eat something that isn’t puree! I was extremely excited to try some of the food sensory activities.
The first one we tried was the Vegetable Body Training activity. This incorporated getting the children to smell and feel different unpeeled vegetables. We decided to do this one first so that MO and BBG could start by feeling dry foods and work up to the wet sensations that would come later.
This activity stimulates exploration mainly through touch, weight and texture.
We got a variety of vegetables that had been grown on Dad’s allotment and a couple that were store brought and let the children play with them. We encouraged them to smell, feel and tell us about the vegetables. For the first time ever BBG placed a piece of food into her mouth and MO really took in the smells and textures of the items. It was magical to see and something we have tried and failed to do before.
We then got the bigger children to help cut up the vegetables to make a soup. Each one loved doing this. MO cut his perfectly and had to chop his slices into 3 more smaller slices. It was just lovely to see him engaging in an activity that sensually would have been hard for him to tolerate, his senses would have been over stimulated but he was coping. We then turned the cut vegetables into a soup which BG and I had for lunch today. For a soup recipe try out Judit’s healthy soup over on her website.
We decided to move onto the wetter activity. One that I thought MO would really struggle with. Unfortunately it was too much for BBG and she just cried, however we will carry on the food play and involve everyone in the family to encourage her in the relationship she has with food.
As for the other children the Rice Cereal Tasting Tray was perfect. We brought a variety of fruits, both that the children had seen and tasted before and ones they hadn’t and included a cereal.
They all got tucked in, feeling and picking up the fruit, smelling the fruit. They actively told us about how it felt in their hands. MO who can’t stand being sticky and wet got well and truly stuck in. He didn’t care that he was covered in fruit juices , he just wanted to explore.
We had planned to show them how the different fruit could be made into a fruit paint however before we got the chance they had actually eaten everything! We told the children how we were going to make the fruit into paint and MO couldn’t quite process what we were saying, he didn’t like the idea of the fruit pieces being made into something that it wasn’t meant to be.
The fruit can also be used to make a puree and use it as an edible paint (however, some children with special needs find the sensory input too offensive). This activity stimulates children’s senses and learning process mainly through smell and vision.
It was a brilliant afternoon of sensory exploration and one that has really shown the children how food can be fun. It has also shown us parents that activities that are well thought out really do benefit our children.
For Judit’s full article and another Food Sensory Activity go onto the Teach Early Years website in September. Want to read more about Judit and her recipes (including gluten free sour dough and a delicious looking, berry field cocoa gateau with mint and cream cheese) go take a peak at her blog.