The compartments of an ice cube tray are just the right size for setting up a station that allows your toddler to touch, taste, poke at, and other wise explore food! This game is great for soon after a meal so that the emphasis is on all the senses, not just on eating.
I wanted to fill the tray with a variety, but not an overwhelming amount of different objects for Veronika. I included warm cooked carrots, chilled slices of watermelon just out of the fridge, soft chunks of room temperature banana, and a crumbly cookie.
Veronika wasted no time getting her hands in there! “Hot!” she said to me, feeling the carrot, quickly follow by a surprised, “Cold!” to the watermelon. She smooshed one of the banana pieces in her hand, but mostly passed that over in favor of the watermelon.
The cookie certainly got a few nibbles, too. You can use any fruits or veggies (or cookies!) for this activity, or play multiple times with seasonal fruits at different times of the year. Because all of the foods were about the same size, they are fun for stacking, too.
For some slipperier tactile play, I cooked up green linguine noodles. These were great both for the texture (somewhat slimy, which can take toddlers a while to get used to) and for the color.
I thought she might hesitate, but she loved mushing through the noodles with her fingers. Once she took a nibble, she looked at me with recognition. “Pasta!” she said.
Don’t forget, toddlers learn about food when exploring like this. So the next time this happens…
…don’t scold. It’s all about the process! And kind of like an art project, too.