One goal we’ve been trying to achieve is to show the children that each food has a different taste and textures. To illustrate this, we cut up some cucumbers with the children so they could taste and play with them. As you can tell in the photos below, the cucumbers received a variety of reactions from the Toddler 1 class. One child enjoyed eating them, one child enjoyed sharing them, two children bit into the cucumbers and quickly spit the vegetable out, and a few children enjoyed playing with the cucumber skin and attempted to construct figures with it.
According to Dr. Susan Evans Morris, children need to learn about new foods in an unthreatening way. “When they stir, pat, smear, pour, and make designs with an unfamiliar food, they experience the sensory qualities of that food. What olor is it? What does it smell like? What does it feel like on my hands? Is it smooth or does it have some texture? Is it wet or dry?”
By allowing children to play with the whole cucumber, prepared slices, and engage in a sensory experience, they developed the comfort to explore the food with their mouths and this also gave them the confidence and greater willingness to experience the food. Moreover, the teachers had a chance to observe the children communicate, problem solve (when building with the cucumber skins and deciding what to do if they didn’t like the taste), work on their fine motor skills (by picking up and handling the vegetable), and describe the different tastes and textures they were experiencing.
According to Susan Revermann, a great way to continue this study at home is to take your child grocery shopping with you and turn it into a fun learning experience! Pick up various whole foods and show them to your child. Hold up two foods with contrasting colors, various shapes, different sizes, sweet smells, pungent smells, and foods that they may and may not recognize. Even if your child doesn’t quite understand your words yet or have the words to describe it themselves, your child will be developing their language skills while participating in a visually stimulating experience!