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Imaginary Food Play


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Hi wondering if anyone can help with this ongoing dilemma...

 

Our home corner is very popular and although I feel it is very well resourced the children in my foundation unit continually take things from the maths area - particularly small objects such as - compare bears, tiny maths pegs, counters in fact anything they can pretend is a food item! We have lots of the usual homey type food resources but they seem to crave things to pour into pots and pans and stir around like they are making a cake or soup!

 

It used to be the playdough that they insisted on taking into the home corner (much to the cleaners annoyance, carpeted floor!!) but now that we have put a 'cooker' in the playdough area they seem satisfied to bake their cakes and such in the playdough area.

 

Although im all for children using their imagination and taking items from one place to another in order to learn through their own learning style, I feel that there must be something I can provide for them that might take away the desire to completely empty the shelves from the maths table :o

 

I did consider dried pasta but im sure some of them would attempt to eat it and this wouldnt please the cleaners too much either!

 

Hope someone can help

thanks!

Edited by Guest
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We use pasta, rice, lentals real mushrooms (they are soft enough to cut with blunt knifes) and cerals like sugerpuffs and ricecripies kids love it.

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im all for real foods and real foods only im afraid, im really supportive of real life expereinces so we put in pasta lentils, flour, raisins, real fruit and veg to cut up and many mnay more foods. the children gain so much from this, they can cook lots of real dishes and make thier playdough due to these expereinces even our 2 year olds can make playdough by themselves.

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I sort of agree but I still feel uncomfortabel about using real food which is then swept up and thrown away. What message are we giving to th children. Is it only me that feels like this?

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No chill, you're not alone. Im not overly keen on food items being used in play generally, partly because Ive lived and seen starvation in the world and it really does change your perspective.

 

On the other hand I wouldn't completely deny this experience either, there is a school of thought that suggests that if children have some experiences of 'playing' with food, they are more likely to eat it and therefore food is less likely to be thrown away at the kitchen table. I don't know how true this is. But, I wouldn't as a matter of course use real food daily for play to be thrown away. Part of the imagination is about using things that arent, this shows creative genius and we do this as adults too.. it reminds me of learning the offside rule with the tomato ketchup and the salt.

 

Its always an interesting discussion, this one, as there are always strong views on both sides arent there?

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i understand how you feel but we have very little food thrown away if the children do not eat it then it goes back into the compost bin that then gets put onto our veg patch that then helps our plants to grow so that we can use them in our role play areas or for snack. i dont see the problem with that.

 

i have very strong opinions about only using real foods and tools etc. ask a child who has only experienced a plastic apple to use their senses to tell you about that apple " red, hard" ask a child who has had the experiences of a real apple and the list is an endless use of rich language brought on by real life experiences. but hay ho everyones entitled to their own opinions its these lively debates that make you question your practice and that can only lead to better quaility practice :)

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Clare, can you clarify for me how you use the real foods? Are the children really cooking with some of the food on offer on a daily basis, or just pretend cooking with any of the food you have out.

 

I have a reluctant member of staff at the moment about using real food - given food hygiene courses etc. she wants to know why if we have to be so stringent when "catering" for the children, but if they are using it in play, we can allow them to cut it up - perhaps 2 - or 3 try to eat some, put it down someone else come along........ you get my drift.

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we use it for both we have children cooking but i think the post was about using real foods in imaginaitve play ie role play and thats mainly what my reply was, we use real oods for children to pretend to cook with and we alow then to eat it if they wich or cut it up and make thier own fruit salads to eat. hope this helps.

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We had lots of vegtables in some soil and the children enjoyed digging them up, some peeled the onions and cabbage leafs ect... one boy peeled an onion then took it to the home corner looked in the cookery book and saw a picture of onion soup, cut up the onion then pretended to cook it!

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Clare, can you clarify for me how you use the real foods? Are the children really cooking with some of the food on offer on a daily basis, or just pretend cooking with any of the food you have out.

 

I have a reluctant member of staff at the moment about using real food - given food hygiene courses etc. she wants to know why if we have to be so stringent when "catering" for the children, but if they are using it in play, we can allow them to cut it up - perhaps 2 - or 3 try to eat some, put it down someone else come along........ you get my drift.

 

 

We use real food in play, however the hygiene rules are still in place, for example we placed all the ingredients for small cakes on a table, provided aprons etc We explained to the children that were able to do cooking without an adult. A member of staff then observed which children independently washed hands etc and the ones that didnt. The main difference between this 'play' activity and an adult led cooking activity was, when the children had finished making cakes completely independently a member of staff placed them in the oven, however a previous batch made in advance was what went home with the children and their cakes unknown to them were put in the compost.

 

It is a really useful way of observing children playing with food without the adult intervention, it also highlights what children need further support around hygiene etc. Of course all the children will eat small amounts of whats on offer, but everything is risk assessed against allergies etc....no harm has ever resulted thus far.

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Thank you - that's made it really clear - I have often thought about making a batch or two to substitute with - so I'm glad to learn that it works! As a matter of interest, would the resources you give the children to play cook with be able to become a real cake, or would you only give them, say, flour and water to mix up. Ours enjoy making play dough, but I haven't cooked it afterwards for them.

 

We have always had cooking as an adult led activity I must admit, keeping everyone in order, and doing very small batches. The children get rather excited about cooking and we only have the one room to do that in, as the kitchen is tiny, so no room for a table etc. nor able to take a small group off quietly to do it. Once there's the slightest whiff that the ingredients are appearing etc. it's like bees round a honey pot! But what they mix up they eat at snack time, or occasionally they take home, we take great care to label whose is whose etc.

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