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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!
The children enjoy painting in general, and they seem to be especially creative when we move the activity outdoors. It seems to give them a unique energy from what they usually experience when painting in the classroom. They explored painting using brushes and their hands, which provided for a wonderful sensory experience.
When we went outside, the children automatically went to the paintbrushes, felt the bristles in their hands, examined the bowls filled with the red paint, and surveyed the entire set-up. They explored the relationship between the brush and paint, and the paint and surface. Children began painting on the paper we laid down, themselves, and each other! Occasionally a child would look up at one of us as if to say, “Is this okay?” as they used their hands to paint instead of the brushes.
The children have been exploring in the kitchen area and carrying the materials to different areas of the room. When children play in the kitchen, it allows them to learn to count, indulge in their sense of smell, touch and taste, learn about proportions and are introduced to a variety of shades within one color. Pretend play has a major benefit to social, emotional, and mental development in children and leads to increased communication skills. Children are allowed to be whoever they want to be in pretend play.
Last week we had some extra time to explore limes in class, so the teacher’s placed a juicer on the table to encourage the children to juice oranges and limes. The children absolutely loved it!
The children were so excited to squeeze the fruits in their hands, see the juice run down the inside of the juicer, and then taste the remaining skins from the fruit. This was a wonderful experience for them because they were able to do the juicing themselves and experience what it was like to prepare a meal or snack on their own. They were all familiar with orange juice, but this allowed the children to experience the process of preparing it themselves. During this activity, we discussed color, taste, and the names of the fruit. It was a complete sensory experience that allowed the children to taste the difference between the sweet and sour juices. Continue reading
Earlier last week we set up a provocation in the Toddler 2 room. We placed strips of paper with certain letters and numbers on them and strips of blank pieces of paper. We came to realize that the children are really advancing with their scribbles and the meaning behind them. In other terms, it’s like hieroglyphics in toddler form.