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Replacing Snack Time With Snack Bar?


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We've had it suggested to us by our EYA that we replace the formal snack time where all children have a snack together, with a kind of snack bar that they can access as and when they want.

 

The reason this has been suggested is to help us maximise time for the children to play, now that we have free flow in and out. At the moment, a big chunk of time gets lost in the middle of the session while everyone is going to the toilet, washing hands and having snacks.

 

Does anyone do this kind of self selecting time to have a snack? And what are the practicalities of it? Do the staff have to 'run' it? Do the children do this? Or do they just help themselves!?

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We tried it and hated it, but I've seen it work beautifully in other settings. xD

 

We were a small, 20 place setting with 4 staff. We found that by children washing their hands in little groups while the others were continuing with a movement/dance session was ideal, and this left one person bringing out the snack, one supervising handwashing/loo, and two people with the movement group. We felt snacktime was a wonderful opportunity to sit down with the children and have lengthy conversations with them about their lives and interests, and also to share a bit about ourselves. When we trialled the rolling snacktime, this was left to the one member of staff who was tied up with the snack area for over an hour, who really didn't have quality time with the children because she was clearing up and setting up all the time! We really lost the lovely atmosphere we had spent so long building up, so we stopped it.

 

However, in a very large setting such as a CC I used to work in, it can work very well. It just doesn't seem workable to send 40+ children to wash hands and sit down all in the space of a couple of minutes. :o Again, it does tie up one person, but with a bit of organisation so that the food is there and doesn't need to be collected from the kitchen all the time, this one person can manage to keep the snack area fresh, clean and tidy and manage the odd conversation with the children.

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We do actually enjoy the rolling snack idea better. We also have 20 children a session and 4 or 5 staff.

The children help set things out and make suggestions about what we have. The small group chats and the adult is free to join in. Also the children help clear up their cups and bowls by putting them in a bowl ready for washing up. We do have the advantage that the table is right beside the kitchen so even if we need more food it is easy enough to just reach in and get it so there is no disruption.

Not sure about all my staff but I really enjoy it and always talk more to the children then than almost any other time.

I do agree that things can be a bit stretched with 1 or 2 staff outside and sometimes someone in the toilets but we cope and the children understand the rules well.

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We use a snack bar and we're a big group of 52 or two groups of 26 as we divide the children. We have found it has been the best thing we have done. It means children can come and go when they like to have their snack, we keep it open for about an hour during the morning and the children are only allowed to use it once but can sit for as long as they like eating and drinking.

I would recommend trying it and see if it works. I had some real doubts about it before we started but it gives the children time to eat and to learn to sit and socialise as often children will go with their friends to snack. Also they learn to pour wash up wash their hands and wipe the tables so alot of other things than just eating and drinking.

 

Steph

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We have a rolling snack bar too which is open throughout our 3 hour session. Child access it themselves by taking their registration name card from the board and placing it on the table to 'save ' their seat while they wash their hands.

 

We only offer snacks such as plain biscuits, bread-sticks, rice cakes, naan bread, toast etc with whole fruit such as apples, pears, bananas and oranges. We are lucky to be on the grounds of a primary school and they add our numbers into theirs to share the free fruit and milk scheme. Children choose between milk and water to drink. Water is also freely available elsewhere in the room and of course in this weather, outside.

 

This works for us and children quickly learn the routine of cleaning up after themselves, sharing and helping each other. We don't find that any one member of staff has to be there all the time. Often each of the three staff on in the session will sit for a time chatting to the children. The older ones almost always help new or younger ones and there's always at least one child who remembers that they can only have 1 biscuit!!!! :o

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if you try a forum search there are loads of posts about this in the past..

 

we were unsure when we changed liking the social aspect of all sitting together chats etc, but this still happens, but without the long time taken for hand washing etc. . we could not have free flow so had a set time for open and closing of out cafe , and children accessed snack in groups, usually friendship groups came together, and if they had not been by a certain time we used to remind or call them to join us when a space was free.

 

we had 1 member of staff sit with the children during this time, but once they were confident and understood the 'rules' they could be left to help each other. they poured own drinks and helped serve each other with the snack, which tended to be toast/crumpets/muffins/ bread sticks or similar carb. plus a fruit or five supplied by the parents each week.

 

we had name cards which children put into a set place ( ours was a teddy on the wall) once they had been, this allowed staff to know exactly who needed reminding, or if they did not come regularly identify the children and encourage them to join us at some time. If a child said no we encouraged a drink, but some days they did not use it, we just monitored it and told parents, never making a child access it if they did not want to..

they tidied up afterwards taking items to kitchen hatch in our case ready for washing up, we tried them doing it but did not work for us,

 

they help set up the cafe and tidy it away at end when it closes

 

we thought that same learning was gained form doing it this way and children came when they wanted, play was extended to most of the session

 

But it worked with one group of children and we were always fully aware for another group we may have to adapt and change it.

 

Inge

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We do like Helen. We tried the snack bar idea but with 3 staff found it a nightmare (one was going to toliets, moping up drinks etc etc). Could also be down to the fact we had a lot of little ones, 3 staff and majority boys?!! We found one member of staff aways manning it, or it would be chaos and children not talking to each other, some eating all the snack others not getting it, also found children did not want to have snack or a drink at all. So, we decided to go back to snack time. It works brilliantly. All the children see the others sitting and sit down tog, hand washing is done using wipes, children take it in turns to hand out the snacks, one staff memeber runs it ie may start a discussion off (today we looked at cress we had grown, tasted it, felt it etc, talked about what plants need to grow). Sometims a quick story about a background topic. Other staff just did a quick sort out of toys etc or prepared space for focus/circle activity.

 

It was something we evaluated as staff tog and think that athough OFSTED want rolling snack it wasnt actually working for us or the children. So long as we can justify why we do it I dont see a problem. Water is aways available for children anyway.

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We have never tried 'rolling snack' .....mainly because we enjoy the 'social' side of all eating together - we are a very small group and have such a good 'routine' that children are not left 'waiting'.

 

I know that I will have to 'justify' this to Ofsted - as it's not what they want now :o

 

Our children count out cups and bowls - help to 'prepare' fruit and pour their own drinks.

 

We are not able to offer 'free-flow' (operate from first floor of a community building) so we have to have a natural break in activities anyway. Outdoor play follows 'snacktime'.

 

Sunnyday

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I went on a course this year called "The Ultimate Early Years Environment" and the lady who was speaking (her name escapes me) who was an early years adviser said that the idea of rolling snack is fantastic and that there is nothing wrong with it. However, she said that if she was coming into your setting to observe and inspect she would expect to see a social group snack time as well because it teaches the children a lot of values... she also made a good point when she said that a lot of children will never have the 'everyone sit down together and eat a meal and talk about our day' times at home and it is a really good oprotuinty for to give them this experience - she said that doing it in key worker groups is ideal because you are small group and the children have a sense of family.

 

We have tried doing it in key worker groups... it does work and it is lovely. It takes a little more organisation but it takes up so much less time in the long run.

 

Hope this helps??

 

Tink! :D x

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I would say go for it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

We really didn't want to give it a go but once we did......... boy we wondered why we ever wasted so much time with us all sitting together at the same time and all needing to wash hand at same time...........

 

Ours is a cafe which is open throughout the session and gets replensihed lunchtime for when the afternoon session begins.

5 children can access it at a time but on occasion friends want to sit together so as long as they have a chair no problem!!

 

Its a lovely small social occasion.

 

We do the larger sitting together at lunch time.

 

Enjoy!!

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We find rolling snack successful, but it does tie up a staff member. The children are aged 2 - 5 and we have snack board in the foyer with their names on velcro that they put on when they arrive and put snack in the box. The children bring their own snack as it was just too costly for us.

 

Snack time starts at 9-30 and lasts an hour. This is plenty of time. The children go and wash their hands, come and get their name off the board and find their snack and drink. The staff member is there to chat to them, and make sure the younger ones get the correct snack and drink. They are all well trained in taking their snack boxes and empty cups to the kitchen. The staff member tries to keep on top of the washing up as and when she can, otherwise there can be 30+ cups to wash! When she has finished snack she does our snack! - makes us a cup of tea and if we're lucky brings the biscuits!

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We used to have a fixed snack where we tidied up beforehand and the children sat with their Keyperson - the older ones in different rooms, younger ones all together. I really liked the social aspect but began to feel we were "making" children snack when they had something better to be doing. Often we found the snack was not always eaten and the younger children often raced through the time while the older ones sat and chatted for so long they got nothing else done in the morning!

 

I proposed a change to the morning which made more use of the free flow we had introduced, and brought in a snack period of 20-30 minutes (we have about 20 children per session). One staff member prepares the snack and sets up the area which we only use for snacking. She then has the opportunity to chat with the children as they snack and have a drink herself (our building enables this to be kept out of children's reach). The children wash their hands in the bathroom (off main room) and collect their names before having the snack. If there are no chairs left free they can choose to go and play again before washing hands and returning or to queue nicely in the snack area.

 

How does it work in practice? Often there is less conversation between the children and the adults in that area which is a downside. But the freedom of the children to carry on being involved in something which interests them for longer makes up for this as the conversations there are higher quality than were often found in group snack time. The children have the opportunity to refuse a snack and staff respect this, meaning they are not wasting time waiting for others to finish. Some staff worried about this aspect but we have told parents that if they really feel their child needs something in 2.5 hours to tell us so we can work to encourage them to partake. I felt that most children can self determine hunger and thirst levels so if they say no thank you they mean it. One member of staff stays in the area at all time but the children are still encouraged to use their manners and to help clear their things when they have finished. Staff change places once they have had their drink to let others take a turn.

 

Over all we are very happy with it. We trialled it for six weeks and then re-evaluated it before taking it on permanently. That said we could change again if a cohort deemed it necessary.

 

HTH

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We did rolling snack for 3 years and were praised by LA and Ofsted -BUT we now have gone back to all sitting together as one whole group - the reason......it does not currently meet the needs of the children we have at the moment. We regularly have a high percentage of children who have additional needs/behaviour problems and rolling snack was a total nightmare for them, the other children and the staff.....WHY? because there was no 'definite routine for snack time' , plus having the 'food' available throughout the rolling snack was a big problem as some of our SEN children do not yet understand that you cannot eat EVERYTHING even food was being taken from other children's plates -one particular child had an obsession with food which was a motivator and would literally try to eat the whole snack prepared for the group of 24 (even with 1;1 support too). Some other children without additional needs wouldn't come for their snack (even with lots of positive encouragement) because they were 'too busy' playing and then at home time were distraught because they had remembered that they hadn't had their snack. So staff then had to tell children to leave their play and have snack - (seems against the principle of allowing them to continue their play). We found one member of staff was completely tied up with preparation and sitting with the children for most of the session, which meant that because of the physical nature of the building we could not free flow and maintain safety of our children with SEN. All in all a logistical nightmare.

We all sit together now, and our SEN children are sitting with the other children and all staff in an established routine - brilliant!

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I think you have to do what suits your current group. We changed to a rolling snack bar a few years ago. Some staff had to be dragged (if I am honest I was one) kicking and screaming into it but now we love it. We put table out with snack on, water or milk plus hand gel to wash. Children are brilliant at it now. We always have a staff member keep an eye as occasionaly a little one will eat as mch as possible before being stopped!! But I do admit it may be difficult for others We have 25 chidren 5/6 staff and no otdoor area and no under 3's/ In sept we will probably have to change things around as we have 23little ones starting. The social aspect of it isn't so important to us as ors eat lunch together at noon, which for social skills is the best thing we ever did.

I must tell you, we bought some pampered chef safety knives, over the last week or so the children have been preparing their own snack with them. They are fantastic and hte look on their faces when they are able to cut through a carrot or slice a cucumber! It does mean an adult has gone back to sitting htere though

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Although in my last post I mentioned that LA and Ofsted were impressed that we did rolling snack, I must admit that our LA pedagogue was just as impressed that we'd changed it back to all sitting as one group to accommodate the needs of the SEN children at this current time (haven't had Ofsted in so can't say what they would think) - so I'd say - keep an open mind - if you haven't tried it, do - it may well work - we haven't ruled out returning to it, but be prepared to qualify why you do what you do, and make sure that it is always in the best interests of the children.

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At my setting our children have a table with their own water bottles on they also have a mini fridge with milk in that they pour into cups themselves and all children have a snack trap which costs about £2 each(google snacktrap) which is labelled with name and photo we fill these in the morning with non perishable snacks and also have a fruit bowl available, there is a poster with pictures to remind children to wash hands first(most manage this) and it works great although we have one child who stands at the table eating all day long !!! The children often sit at the table and chat as they feed and water themselves we have a snack table outdoors and the children are encouraged to take thjeir bottles and snacktraps outside with them.

We have 35 children in four rooms and we use this procedure from the toddler room through to pre school. :o

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