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Snack Time


silver genius
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We are thinking off changing oue snacktime. We currently have a set time at 10am all children have to come and sit at that time whatever they are doing and i kind of feel that it sometimes disturbs their play. and a few children refuse to come at all one member of staff makes it into a big issue that they have to come at that time.

 

I'm propsing that we change it to a cafe style area and open up! at say 10am until 10.30ish and they can choose when to come during that time.

 

Last night we had a huge move around in the setting, all the furniture and tables and now when its snack time they have had to start moving the water tray/sand tray out of the way to get a large enough table for every child to sit down... (this has not gone down well with the problem member of staff!)

 

I just wondered what everyone else did in their settings

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we operate a rolling snack system, member of staff sits with the children, children choose and cut their own fruit, under supervision of course, and the staff member talks to the children. Works really well for us.

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Yes we do a running snack bar too, it's nice because you dont have to stop the children playing to have it, as long as they know when it's going away they have the choice, it works for us well too.

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Hi we changed to a snack cafe about a year ago now and for the very same reasons you're describing. It works brilliantly well for us - it was, in fact an immediate success.

 

We open about 9.30am and close about 30-45mins later. A member of staff is present throughout this time and assists the children as they need - pre-school children do everything themselves but 2 year olds normally need a little help pouring drinks.

All the children understand the routine well - they arrive, post their name up, wash hands and then help themselves, they also tidy up after themselves when they are finished. They normally drift in in small groups and it still remains a very social time with the practitioner there supporting conversation. We've found that some children need to access the cafe straight away whereas others choose not to come at all. We remind them just before it closes and then respect their decision.

 

When we did snack time altogether there was a pressure to make sure all the children came and sat down and for some children this was an issue - changing to a rolling snack eliminated this.

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Thanks for your quick replies. :o

 

Can I ask how many staff do you have working each session?

 

We have 3.

 

1 member of staff usually supports the chldren during snack time, but they usually tidy up a bit at the same time.

 

I've just been promoted to deputy and am taking over from the senior when she steps down in July. I'm a bit worried about steam rollering in and upsetting the staff, 3 members of staff is really supportive and know we need to make changes, but no-one wants the conflict thats going to come with the changes from 1 member of staff.

Edited by mk5698
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We have a group snack at 10.30 am after an hour and half free-play, the children seem ready for a rest and a chat, we also use this time to count in context and share wow moments to go on the wow board next to the snack table. This is the first time we come together in the morning as we go straight into freeplay. Children can leave the table when they've finished and we start tidying up/nappy changing time before we do small groups. It seems to work well.

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we are also in the set snack time category. As we can't offer free flow, this preceeds going to get coats and all going outside. I can see in a free flow environment it would work very well, but where free flow can't be offered sadly whole group sessions are just something we have grown to accept.

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We have been using a self service snack for about 4 years now. It works really well for us and frees up a huge amount of time that we used to spend washing 24 pairs of hands, sitting everyone down, waiting for everyone to finish etc. The children soon get used to the routine and we only have a member of staff keeping an eye rather than sitting with the children. Of course, younger children need more support and there are the odd days when we have snack together for various reasons. We don't have free flow outdoor play either but that's a whole other story! :o

I really think that these issues vary so much from setting to setting and you just have to experiment with what suits you and your children best.

Beehive

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We have gone back to set snack time from a rolling snack bar, and we now have it at about 11.15am after an hour and half of free flow, when the children have finished they can get down and they choose a book, sit on the mat looking at books together while the others finish off. The Ofsted inspector commented when she came about what a nice natural transition the book time was and how nice it was to see the children automatically choosing a book. Once the majority have finished, the books go away and we finish with song, or story etc before the children get ready to go.

 

Clare

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We have also gone back to set snack time, having tried snack bar last year. Although the snack bar avoided having to stop everyone at once, we found that many of the children were not having their drink and snack and therefore an adult was needed nearby most of the time and there was only 2 of us. We now have our milk & fruit at 10.30am after phonics and before focused activity time. We encourage independence by asking children to collect their own milk or water and a wipe if they want fruit. The fruit is then offered around usually by a child. Once the children have finished they tidy-up and come to the carpet for songs while others finish. Snack bars do avoid interupting children's play but it does require an adult for some supervision so it depends if you have a spare adult!

Green Hippo x

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we have a rolling snack bar ..........works very well

 

can i ask why do they need to eat and drink??

If our children do not want anything thats fine

any snack time whether it be rolling or all sit down requires an adult to be there for safety reasons as well as enhancing a very fun and social time, key people will often use snack to get some key work done with the children

 

we do not really have any adult focus time, nearly all child intiated, we have 5 staff and 24 -26 children with free flow

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Morning all,

 

Thanks once again for all the great and helpful replies. You lot are just FAB! :o

 

I like the idea that its a good time for key persons to get key work time, thats is something else im planning on starting, as the keyperson/child relationship i feel is paper only!

 

another question do the children register for snack?

 

I'm thinking along the lines of felt boards with names and small basket/box when they have been... any suggestions please..

 

There usually is an adult stood not sat! xD which i dont like.. at the snack table chivvy them along. the children then take the cups/bowls to the kitchen doorway and hand to the member of staff in the kitchen who prepared the snack and they wash up so it usually take 2 staff.. we have 3 working at anyone session. (sorry if that seems a bit negative, since i've started my FDEY ive had to think a bit more reflectively, and OH BOY it's throwing al sorts of issues up)

 

so in my eyes will free up a member of staff.. in theory

Ta

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The children can choose whether or not to have a drink and/or piece of fruit but when we had rolling snack-time, we found that when children were asked to tidy-up (especially those outside) we had a chorus of "but I haven't had my fruit/drink yet" even though the children had been reminded that the snack-bar was open and given notice of it closing shortly! Somedays worked better than others.

I agree that an adult needs to be present whether you are running a snack-time or snack-bar - there are always at least 2 of us with the children during snack-time and the children are encouraged to be socialable and supported in this.

As with many things in early years, you have to find out what works best for your setting.

Green hippo x

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Hi

 

We have a cafe style snack time, with one member of staff, the children have their name on a lable (peice of fruit). They move the lable from one side of the wall to the other once they have been to the 'cafe'. It works well, we also use a market stall role play with a till so the children can pay of their drinks & fruit.

 

Nicky XX

Edited by nickylear
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  • 4 years later...

googling for ideas on 'snack cafe' this old thread popped up first, our group snack time has always worked brilliantly and am still unsure if the change will work,I know a lot of the thinking behind not doing group snack time is because we shouldn't interrupt their play but we do it for other group times so where's the difference ? but with pushing 30 a session at the moment and 2 year olds in the mix now it just isn't working, would be grateful for some insight from higher number groups doing this : - )

 

I can see tying up one member of staff if 6/8 children are using cafe, but what about if only 1 or 2 at a time and then other staff have more children to supervise ?

 

Do staff swap over during snack time or just rota 1 per day ?

 

How long is the norm to get through ?

 

When do other staff get a drink ?

 

Did cost of providing snack rise much by helping themselves ?

 

Could you also give me an idea of any other cons I'll need to consider, Many thanks

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OOH ...one of my favourite subjects! xD

We have done snack bar system for 15 years! It is not supervised...the children once they have learnt the ropes get on and do it themselves....yes even my 2 .5 year olds pour their own drinks and help themselves!!! there are lots of ways of doing it but i will tell you our method

We set out snacks at the beginning of the session (for us usually cheese apple and crackers) plus two jugs with a smallish amount of milk and water (limit this when you first start!!) the children all have a cup inside a bowl(ikea) with a name label in it . They go and wash their hands (sometimes need reminding....not often) then find their cup, put their label in a bucket(then i know who has had one), pour their drink of choice and help themselves to one of each item...simples! The dirty cuos/bowls are placed in a large box for washing later.

We only need to supervise at the start of term...and to be honest the older ones help out with this so it really isn't a problem.

The snack bar is situated close to the kitchen for ease and we have a roll of kitchen paper handy ...just in case! :P It is also in an area that we can see so if there are any issues it's not a problem....odd spillage but at this time of year that's quite rare.

costs are the same (in fact for the afternoon session a bit less because they don't eat as much so we dont put as much out)

For us the snack bar is out for most of the session (we clear it at 11 for finish at 11.30) sometimes needs topping up and you get the occasional serial snacker...but they're dobbed in by their mates quite quickly :rolleyes:

I had some colleagues in the area come and see our system and put it into place....worked really well and all the children had got it within a week....she said to me she wonders why she had never done it before!

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Lol the first line made me laugh .....all sounds quite positive, I have planned to put it next to kitchen....what I should really do is get my a*** off of here and go in and sort it so it's ready for tomorrow......labels to print and laminate, my fav thing :) furniture to move ..not my fav thing and am not good at knowing when to stop :/

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Lol the first line made me laugh .....all sounds quite positive, I have planned to put it next to kitchen....what I should really do is get my a*** off of here and go in and sort it so it's ready for tomorrow......labels to print and laminate, my fav thing :) furniture to move ..not my fav thing and am not good at knowing when to stop :/

ah you need to do the 'magic hour' decide what you can realistically do in an hour and just do that...then stop!....you could always get the children to do their own labels !!!

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made me look twice when I noticed the date on the first one... a blast from the past?

as to your dilemma,

group or cafe style each have benefit and both can work depending on the children and their needs.. we were open and used the style that worked each year it could be different.

overall cafe style worked best for us... we could clear one table close to the kitchen for up to 8 children at a time and rest could happily continue in play, no toilet queues, or waiting around for others , some could take their time, others a quick drink and go... can be supervised until they know the routine and then left with an eye on it or as we did have a staff member interacting with them and a limited time it is available. so many variations depending on needs.

we set up at 10am a table with a staff member, children would get a name from their self registration, put it on a place at the table before going to wash hands.. that way we were able to monitor enough seats , who was hand washing etc.. also at end they put name in a box so we knew who had used it .at end they would clear their space so another could join.. seldom did we have less than 6 and when numbers did drop the staff supervising may ask one of those not yet accessed it if they were ready to join.. some did need to be asked as they were either so engrossed or did nto think about it, a refusal to go was accepted and we gave a reminder that we were closing usually about 45 mins later ..

Food bill did not change but we did supervise quantities as a member of staff was there.. they soon learnt how much to take and if they wanted more they could always ask.. they poured own drinks and depending on staffing children etc helped prepare any fruit..

Staff had drink while preparing the toast ! and had a cold drink at the table with the children.

Took a while for the staff to adapt the first time.. they wanted to go back after a week but I insisted we did a full term .. once they had got used to it they never wanted to go back.

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We do both rolling snack in kitchen or group snack , children help prepare snack daily , depending on who is in kitchen , staff usually takes key children , I love FM way but worry we would miss out on the important skills being taught and learnt and the time the children get out of the main drag .

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, I love FM way but worry we would miss out on the important skills being taught and learnt and the time the children get out of the main drag .

Well thank you for liking it!

What do you think the children might miss out on?

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The one to one time, currently they love going into kitchen to prep whatever we are having as we have a variety of food for snack , they wash , cut count out cups plates etc but now as I am writing this I realise that they could still do that for the snack bar as they could prep it and then leave it out , it's a matter of suck it and see I guess and. Sell it to the staff !

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We do the same at the moment, and don't want to lose that as children look forward to being snack helper, so we are going to keep that by them going in with staff on snack rota to put the things out on table, check they have all that's needed (could make a simple picture list that they mark off as they check ....would bring in mark making for a purpose)clean the table, they can bring in counting by making sure they enough of everything, they could even prepare/cut up a small amount ready for those that aren't ready to do it themselves....so hoping we won't lose those learning experiences.

Edited by Mouseketeer
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i probably have one or two children a week who's next step is linked to sorting out the snacks...for a variety of reasons...it is the most fantastic resource and really easy to adjust for each child.so i have some who are learning words /signs for snack stuff and one of my older ones who is using it for calculating two numbers together. Go on give it a go...if you are enthusiastic your staff will follow...it can only have two outcomes neither one will affect the children negatively so why not go for it!

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