Activities for Young Diners
Anything that piques your young eater’s interest in food and cooking will help make mealtimes enjoyable, anticipated affairs. Try one or two of these tips to keep things fun for them—and for you!
- Use a three-ring binder to make a personalized kid’s “cookbook.” Copy recipes and photos from the Internet, put them in the binder and give them star stickers to “rate” each recipe after making and eating it. This way kids can help plan meals for the week by flipping through their very own cookbook.
- Throw a blanket on the living room floor on a rainy day and have an indoor picnic!
- Plan a game or movie night and let the kids help make their favorite snack and finger foods.
- Dedicate one night as “Fancy Night.” Let the kids set the table with good china and full settings of silverware, then teach them proper dining etiquette, from holding the chair for Mom to eating with the proper fork. They’ll thank you for it when they’re in their 30s and at a business dinner!
- Have them design the menu for the night. They’ll learn about ingredients, as well as build self-esteem when they get to show off their work to the rest of the family.
- Play restaurant. On casual nights, the kids can take dinner orders, deliver food and present imaginary checks. They really get a kick out of this—and it’s fun for Mom and Dad too!
- Light a few candles for the table (be sure to keep them out of kids’ reach). Kids really get into dinner anytime they can eat by candlelight.
- Play games during dinner to help reinforce good manners and eating habits. Whenever they say “please” and “thank you” or eat their peas, reward them points good toward taking a night off from helping set or clear dishes.
- At dinnertime, encourage conversation by asking kids to share their favorite things about different foods and cuisines. What’s your favorite fruit, vegetable, drink, restaurant, Mexican meal, pizza, etc.? Why?
- Make dinner interesting by hiding something under the dinner plates (no peeking before dinner!). If they eat their dinner, they’ll get the prize written on a slip of paper under the plate.
- Help kids plant an herb garden, for both eating and tending!