Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Play with Your Food

A few weeks ago Hubby, the Kid, and I went to The Carve, a food carving fair and competition in Holland, Michigan. Since then, our daughter has found every excuse to play with her food.

I honestly can’t deny her because I think it’s a great excuse to teach her about food and how to properly use kitchen tools. For about two years, since she was five, I’ve allowed her to help me in the kitchen by cutting vegetables and cooking on the stove. Completely supervised of course. By teaching her proper technique* and making sure the utensils are in good condition, I know that she is less likely to hurt herself – plus she won’t have any bad habits to break later on.

I love that allowing her to decorate and carve food has made her more curious about vegetables and fruits she hasn’t been brave enough to sample. Kids naturally like raw veggies, since cooking them changes the sugars making them more bitter – so playing with raw food is a great way to try new foods without the stress of dinnertime. It allows her to explore the food itself, wonder how they grow, and what makes them each such different colors.

Here are a few pieces of equipment and other items you can use at home to make your own food creations:

  • Toothpicks
  • paring and filet knives (if you’re not confident with your child’s knife skills, allow them to use a plastic knife – just be sure to let them do it)
  • apple corer
  • melon-baller
  • pepper corns (for eyes of course!)
  • peanut butter or humus (as glue for small things)
  • lemon juice, salt, or citric acid mixed in water to keep fruits like apples from browning
  • bandaids (just in case!)
  • seasonal fruits and veggies – mushrooms, melons, strawberries, apples, asparagus, radishes, eggplant, carrots, celery, cucumber, zucchini, squash, cherry tomatoes, pineapple…
  • Brick or molded cheese can also be an easy item to carve
  • lots of imagination!

Do you play with your food? What kind of exposure to you allow your children to the kitchen?

*As an Alton Brown fan, I highly recommend watching the episode “Soup’s On” to teach kids how to properly use knives and learn how to play in the kitchen.

Jennifer can also be found at her personal blog, Unearthing this Life, where she blogs about homeschooling, cooking Real Food, and dreams about her homestead.

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Now that the heat is going away, we are spending even more time outdoors. I find it extremely important to teach my daughter about the environment around her, and how to take care of it. This morning we went for a hike on the nearby Natchez Trace. This is the second official “hike” she’s gone on with me and I was afraid we’d already taught her poor lessons about nature. Thanks goodness my sister came to the rescue. She’s been going to school for, well, years – I call her the tenured student. She’s studied geology, teaching, and biology; she’s worked as a tutor, homeschool teacher, nanny, camp counselor, nature guide; and she’s more patient than I have been as of late. If it wasn’t for my sweet sister, I’m not sure I’d have the desire to take my daughter back on a hike anytime soon.


So what could be so hard about taking a six year old hiking on a nature trail? She got upset when I told her she could not take home some leaves and sticks to save in her nature box. The girl talked and talked and talked, then talked some more, as we were hiking – interrupting all the conversations we older gals would have. She wanted to stop at every water crossing for snacks and drinks. It was a special treat for her, but it was frustrating to stop every 15 minutes for a break. We quickly learned that we’d have to work around the Kid’s desires. I don’t feel the need to leave her at home for these shorter hikes, but we quickly found some tools to keep her interested in the world around her instead of the “plans” she’d made. Ahh, it’s tough having a perfectionist as a child, but even more difficult when you’re a perfectionist and idealist yourself!

rock table

My little sister, she who is seven years younger than myself, she without her own children, she who’s been going to school for just this thing for, well, forever… she showed me how to manage my own daughter on a hike and I love her for all of it! In my excitement to spend time out in nature, exercising my tired bones and spending time with my sister, I’d forgotten that part of the reason of taking my daughter with was to teach her something.


  • Get them thinking about the world around them by engaging their brains.
  •  Ask children about what they see.
  • Why would a plant grow in one place instead of another?
  • Why should we cross streams on rocks instead of tromping through the water, overturning every rock we come across?
  • Why is it important to stay on the trail?
  • What can your children see that is significant of the season?
  • Count the different sounds you hear.
  • birds, bugs, water, wind through trees, raindrops, sticks breaking, nuts falling.
  • Have the children guess what could be making those sounds. What type of bird do you think is singing? Do you think that squirrel is angry with us? And so on
  • Can you imagine why it would be so important for an animal to have good senses?
  • Why is it important to take only photographs and memories with you?
  • Imagine someone coming into your house and moving all of your food and furniture around. How would that make you feel?
  • Even items that aren’t food for animals can be food for other things like mushrooms, trees, and so on. The circle of life affects all organisms.


Having my sister with us on our hike today gave me insight of how to teach my own child about the world around us. What techniques and tricks do you use with children when out in the wild?

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