Food as a Play Resource

Sensory play encourages learning through exploration, curiosity, problem solving and creativity and that’s why we love it!

According to Sue Gascoyne, “every sensory experience provides the foundation upon which all subsequent knowledge, thought and creativity are based. Each time a child encounters a sensory stimulus a neuron connects with another neuron, establishing new connections in the brain.”

The more these connections are created and tested the more reinforced and stronger they become. As a child embarks on learning a new skill they quickly learn to use a variety of senses to maximise learning and development. 

Maria Montessori, Jean Piaget, Rudolf Steiner (the list goes on) all recognised the importance of sensory play and the benefits on that it has on individuals.

As you can imagine, at FCSS we are, like many others, big advocates of sensory play. Each of our childcare settings have a plethora of sensory activities both in and outdoors, to ensure the children in our care get to explore each and all of their senses.

In some of our settings we have used food – rice, pasta, oats and lentils – as a sensory play resource.

But no longer.

As an organisation we recognise that this gives children mixed messages about food. And at a time where so many families are facing the pinch we can no longer advocate wasting food – or reinforcing the message that food is a play thing.

According to the Trussell Trust, food banks have provided more than 2.1 million food parcels to people across the UK in past year.

The charity says it’s witnessing an accelerating crisis across the UK as the need for emergency food dramatically increased in the past six months. This follows the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit and the soaring rise in living costs that people are facing.

According to the trust, more than 830,000 parcels were provided for children alone and this is set to get worse as the cost of living crisis continues.

These figures remind us that we cant squander food and we have a responsibility to encourage children to value the food that they have rather than playing with it….no matter how fun that may be.