Mealtime Activities for Toddlers

Learning can happen any time – even while eating.

Are you looking for fun activities to do with your toddler at home? Our team of early childhood curriculum experts thoughtfully curated these activities from our proprietary Life Essentials® curriculum to help your family Learn On® at home. Whether it’s during mealtime, playtime, clean up time, bath time or bedtime – our at-home curriculum is built so you can easily integrate learning opportunities in seamless, easy and fun ways.

Picture Talk: Fruits and Vegetables

Level of instruction: Moderate

When: Mealtime, Playtime, Getting Ready for the Day

Time recommendation: 10 minutes

Participants: One-on-one

Learning Domain: Language and Literacy

Learning Standards: Develops an understanding of an adult’s verbal communications and follows simple directions, Identifies familiar foods

Materials: Gather pictures of familiar fruits and vegetables. Search magazines, mailings, or the Internet.

Instructions:

Invite your child to look at the pictures you collected. Describe for your child the characteristics of each fruit and vegetable. Invite your child to repeat the colors of the fruits and vegetables. and to identify each picture. Encourage him or her to identify whether it is a fruit or vegetable. Foe example, say, Which fruit or vegetable is your favorite? That is an apple. Can you say apple. An apple is a type of fruit. What else is a fruit?

Observe your child’s ability to communicate verbally and non-verbally. Does your child respond to simple questions? Does your child use words related to the pictures?


Cooking Time

Level of instruction: Detailed

When: Mealtime

Time recommendation: 5 minutes

Participants: One-on-one, Siblings

Learning Domain: Language and Literacy

Learning Standards: Understands verbal and non-verbal directions, Follows one-step directions, Shows understanding of illustrations and text

Materials: Paper, marker, recipe for a simple no-bake snack, ingredients and kitchen supplies according to the recipe

Instructions:

Choose a simple, no-bake recipe for a snack to make with your child. Write and illustrate clear, one-step directions on a piece of paper. Invite your child to participate in following the recipe to make the snack. Give simple, one-step directions for him or her to follow. Invite your child to pour, dump, stir, or spread the ingredients. Refer to the illustration for each step on the chart paper as you restate each step. Praise your child when he or she follows directions.

Is your child following the directions pictured on the chart? Can he or she identify the pictures? Can your child explain what to do and follow the steps in order?


Icy Interactions

Level of instruction: Moderate

When: Outdoor, Playtime, Mealtime

Time recommendation: 10 minutes

Participants: One-on-one

Learning Domain: Creative Arts

Learning Standards: Explores solids and liquids, Examines and manipulates objects, Cause and effect

Materials: Ice cubes (add food coloring if desired), plastic bin, water, spoons, scoops, cups

Instructions:

Invite your child to explore the ice and the water. Encourage him or her to feel the ice. Discuss with your child how the ice feels. Invite him or her to describe the texture of the ice. Encourage him or her to practice scooping and pouring the water. Invite your child to observe the ice cubes melting. If food coloring was used, invite your child to identify the colors they see in the water. Discuss with your child how the ice changes throughout the activity.

Observe your child’s interest in the ice cubes melting in the water. Does your child explore the ice cubes and water with the provided materials?


Spaghetti Sensations

Level of instruction: Detailed

When: Outdoor, Playtime, Mealtime

Time recommendation: 30 minutes

Participants: One-on-one, Siblings, Family

Learning Domain: Creative Arts

Learning Standards: Use senses to explore objects of varying colors, shapes, textures and sizes

Materials: Spaghetti, food coloring, sandwich bag, plastic bin, tongs, child-safe scissors, fork, and spoon

Instructions:

Cook the spaghetti and then place the cooled cooked spaghetti into a large sandwich bag. Invite your child to add a few drops of food coloring and shake the bag until the spaghetti is coated with color. Place the colored spaghetti in a plastic bin and invite your child to explore. Provide your child with child-safe scissors and encourage him or her to cut the spaghetti. Invite him or her to use the fork, spoon, and tongs to try to scoop the noodles. Discuss and ask open-ended questions about the texture, the color, and if it was easy or difficult to pick up the spaghetti with the tools.

Observe your child’s interest in using the objects to explore the spaghetti. Does your child attempt to use the tools to pick up the spaghetti?


Texture Talk

Level of instruction: Easy

When: Playtime, Outdoor, Mealtime

Time recommendation: 5 minutes

Participants: One on one

Learning Domain: Language and Literacy

Learning Standards: Shows understanding of familiar words, Receptive language, Uses new vocabulary

Materials: Materials with a variety of textures

Instructions:

Provide a variety of different textures for your child to touch and explore. Touch the different materials, and say, Ahh, that feels so soft/rough/smooth, etc. Would you like to touch these things? Gently guide your child’s hand to feel the different items. Encourage him or her to describe how the item feels.

Does your child repeat words that you use to describe the textures? Does your child describe the textures with one or two-word sentences, with or without prompting?

Explore more activities for you and your toddler

  • Getting Ready for the Day: Turn routine activities at the beginning of your child’s day into learning moments.
  • Playtime: Playtime is a great way to teach your toddler without it even feeling like learning.
  • Outdoor time: The great outdoors can be the best classroom of all.

Or return to the Life Essentials® At Home page to explore activities for other age groups.