This is the sort of activity I wish I knew about when my kids were little. Like when making dinner. I often would bring my toddlers in the kitchen with me as I prepared food and something like this is perfect for half an hour play and interaction time.
Yoghurt Finger Painting
plain, greek or vanilla yoghurt
Natural food colouring (The Hooper brand is a good one)
(or make your own vegetable food colouring. Experiment with mushing up or juicing: beetroot, raspberry or strawberry for red and pink, carrot for orange, spinach for green and blueberry or red cabbage for purple).
- In separate (small) bowls, mix together colouring and spoonful of yoghurt.
- This activity works well on a high chair, outside in a plastic shell or empty small pool, on a lined biscuit tray, or a plastic plate.
- Draw pictures, mix the colours and get messy!
Nicole, Occupational Therapist from Gateway Therapies explained the benefits of this type of sensory play for young children:
Many kids are reluctant to try foods that have different textures, or smell and look different to the food they normally eat. One way to encourage kids to enjoy new food is by letting them use their hands to explore. The nerve receptors in our fingers are numerous ( 2,500 receptors per cm2!) and very sensitive, which means that exploration through touch can make for very powerful positive associations with different food. Combine this with smell and an array of enticing colours, and yoghurt painting (and other food play) makes for a very sensory-rich play experience.
I also asked Nicole about the common question from parents about this sort of activity, namely if children will learn to distinguish between edible sensory activities and other non-edieble activities and here is her comment:
Kids from an early age are constantly presented with situations in which they can feel conflicted or contradicted e.g. Water is good to drink, but the bath water not so much. It’s lovely to give your little brother kisses, but the baby in the stroller belonging to the stranger at the park won’t like it so much. It’s fine to play with pretend plastic knives and ‘cut’ play dough sausages, but real knives are off limits.
This is an awesome opportunity to teach your child that there are different rules for different situations. And yes they CAN learn this from a very early age.