During September the theme was Pizza. There are many family nights and other events where pizza is involved. It can be a way for children to explore new toppings on a familiar cheese or cheese and pepperoni pizza, which can be a familiar food item. Trying new foods in different places can be a challenging experience. Restaurants can be loud, have lots of people, and different behavior expectations that can bring about a lot of anxiety making it more stressful to try something new. By pairing a familiar food in a familiar environment, there may be less stressors on the experience of trying new foods!
Crafting a Pizza
To introduce the concept of making a pizza and to use our imagination we put different toppings on our pizza as we listened and sang a song about being a pizza. We had to identify by color and shape what ingredient needed to go on the pizza next. We also had the children make paper plate pizzas where they practiced their fine motor skills by painting the sauce, adding glue for different ingredients, and placing the ingredients on top of the glue. At home, parents can incorporate sequencing by having their child identify the next thing they need to do or get when making meals or snacks or create an art project that is dinner that night.
To continue working on fine motor as well as expanding play ideas, we played on the platform swing and took our friend’s pizza order. We had to pick ingredients up off the ground while the platform swing sung back and forth and then place the ingredients in a box for delivery. In general movement in slow straight lines is more of a calming activity.
Our friend who was placing the order then helped move the delivery truck by either pulling our friend on the platform swing and bringing them closer or navigating the delivery by pulling the delivery person on a scooter board with a rope. Both experiences worked on ways to motor plan around the environment and worked on upper body strength and control.
Playing in this way allows children to practice turn-taking and requesting and promotes positive interactions with others. At home or at the playground, parents can incorporate making pizza or other meals using available items. Wet sand can be molded to be different ingredients to be placed on hands that are plates.
Build your own pizza
To practice exploring different foods and textures, we made our own pizzas for snack. One week we used pre-made dough which we had to roll and spread out using a pin or our hands. Next we spread sauce and placed cheese and other toppings on our pizza. We then had it cooked and tried eating our creations! The next week we had a deconstructed pizza where we had tomatoes we had to squish using our fingers or utensils to make sauce. Some of the food items are familiar to children such as cheese and dough/bread while other ingredients were less familiar such as bell peppers and mushrooms. A combination of familiar foods mixed with less familiar foods can make trying new foods less anxiety provoking.
Food can be explored in a variety of ways, such as playing with our food, smelling our food, or giving our food a kiss.