Veronika is at that age where she’s a bit of a nuisance while I prep dinner, so I needed a quick activity to keep her busy. I decided to involve her in a culinary way tonight, instead of simply distracting her. This game is not only great for building vocabulary about different foods, but doubles as sensory play.
I set out little paper cups full of strongly scented items, including the following: cinnamon, black pepper, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and popcorn. I also included a cut lemon.
I held each one to Veronika’s nose and encouraged her to smell, telling her the name of each food as I did so. The cinnamon got a grin.
The black pepper was immediately pushed back. “No!” she told me.
Older toddlers can make this more of a guessing game, closing their eyes and telling you what they smell. With younger toddlers, expect some mess. Of course Veronika wanted to dump out all the paper cups, so we soon had a strangely-scented mixture that she could mash about on the tray.
Before I could stop her, she took a nibble.
Oh no, I half expected tears! But then she told me, “I like it”. Well, there could be worse combinations than black pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, and chocolate.
Then she needed to lick the lemon, so this activity turned into more of a tasting experiment than I had intended. But I love watching when a toddler takes a game in their own direction.
Next time I wouldn’t do this during dinner prep; it turned out to be quite a mess! But at least it kept her busy while food was in the oven.