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Snack Bar

Jenni B

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I just wanted to post that we have changed our snack routine from all children having snack together at a certain time to having a 'snack bar'! Most of us (including myself) were really not keen to do this, for reasons now I cant remember, but having exhausted all other ways and means of doing both registration and snack time we have started it this week and it is BRILLIANT!!! Much much calmer, no tantrums, not so much clearing up and less stressed staff!!!


We now have free play for an hour and a half instead of an hour. There is now no need to take the children into another room so that the snack tables could be prepared etc.


Anyway, I just wanted to mention it to all those who havent tried it yet because I am now a convert to this system!!

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What do you do? How do you set it up? please, please give me some ideas to present at our next staff meeting - we are a pre school with 24 children per session (including 2 with SEN, who would sit all day at the snack table eating not only their own bur everyone elses too, without an adult to move them on???) our children range from 2.5 to 4+yrs. Isn't it a bit chaotic trying to establish who has eaten, and making sure that the children leave enough for the remainder of the group? Help!! have been thinking about an alternative - you may have the answer???????

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We have children from2yrs 9 months to 4 years plus. We have a number of children with SEN who would (when we snacked as a group) spit their fruit, drop it in other childrens cups, spill water on purpose etc etc so I know it can be really difficult.


We start our morning sessions at 9.30 and finish at 12 pm. The snack bar is on one table with the fruit, water jug, milk, plastic knives, plates and kitchen roll on. There is always one adult on the table and then space for 5 children to sit down. The children can come and have a snack anytime between 9.30 and 11 am.


When the children want a snack, they are asked to go and wash their hands and then collect their name card (laminated cards on a small table next to the snack bar) and put it into the basket. We also have a tick sheet with the children's names on for each day of the week which the adult ticks off. The children then pour their own drink and select a small amount of fruit and put it on their plate.


The 1st day of doing this, we had so much wastage, where children would pile too much on thier plate and not really want to eat it. As the week has progressed the children have been encouraged to take small amounts at a time (also the staff learn which children tend to have bigger eyes than stomach). There have been a few children who have wanted to stay on the table for far too long and eat far too much, again this is a learning curve and with encouragement have moved on to another activity.


Even the children who displayed great disruption and inappropriate behaviour have been calm and polite and have got the hang of it really quickly.


I thought that it would be a bit boring to be on the snack table but it is really fun and refreshing to witness such well behaved children enjoying their snack. The only fruit that they have trouble with cutting on their own are apples......we bought an apple corer/cutter thing which the adult does and works a treat.


Good luck!

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Ditto, Jenny :)

I have been working as the QTS at a children's centre recently, and yesterday we completely changed the snack time routine to a snack bar, and it, too, was great!

I'd agree with everything you say above; we had children who would have eaten the entire supply of bread sticks and rice cakes if we hadn't encouraged them away to play! We also had a little boy who decided he didn't like rice cakes and spat the contents of his mouth into the bowl of raisins xD

Nevertheless, it was still a hundred times better than the interminable snack time the children had to experience before; long waits for a piece of fruit, poor behaviour as a result and frustrated, frazzled practioners. :o

I've recommended that two members of staff try it out together for a couple of weeks and when everyone is used to it, I suspect it will only need one. We only had it available for 45 minutes or so, and this may well change as we all get used to it.

So, if anyone is thinking about it, I'd recommend giving it a shot. I also manage my own nursery, but we're very happy with our traditional sit-down-together-have-a-chat-snacktime, so we won't change it here, but it really has worked a treat at the CC nursery.

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As an avid believer in the snack bar system I'm really pleased you have found it so successful, especially as it has reduced staff stress as well as being enjoyed by the children. :D:D


I recently completed my QA module 4 which is about snacks and lunchtimes, I only had 4 action points defined after reflection on what we do and how, and these were very minor ones. :D


myhenroxanne, My advice for your meeting is to see if you can get everyone to think of it like any other "activity", for example would we not provide open access to paint because some children might use it all up, or hog the paint easel/table. The same goes for a snack bar, allow everyone time to adjust to the change and make adaptions suitable to your specific needs, say about half a term, then review what works well what doesn't and plan from there. Also everyone needs to agree to the "principle" of changing from set time to free flow snacks, ask them to think about the benefits, the childrens access to independent skills, social interaction with peers of their choice, learning how to make choices between different foods, learning about new foods, healthy foods, learning how to consider others in terms of is there enough for everyone, sharing, passing foods to each other, pouring drinks for younger children who are still mastering the skill etc etc.

I have said this before on this forum but here is the short version..


Imagine you are in town saturday morning, doing your own thing, got your own agenda, shoe shopping 1st then dress shopping etc.....suddenly the town hall bells ring...you all have to drop whatever you are doing, leave the shoe shopping until later, to go to the nearest cafe, which is now obviously very full, of every single saturday morning shopper, sit next to someone you didn't want to, wait to be served, get what you are given....in the meantime you realise that the shoe shop is now shut :o



We wouldn't like this control put on us, so why should children?.


I hope you can talk your staff around to trying a more user friendly approach for staff and children. Good luck.



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Until the beginning of this term we had the traditional sit down together snack time and were extremely happy with it. We have done snack this way since I started the Pre-school 25 years ago. We sat in our keyworker groups - a group of about 5-6 children and an adult.

We are doing the Kitemark and were "encouraged" to try snack bar, so after the Easter hols we started it. I know it is still early days (this is our fifth week) but we (staff) are not liking it very much. Some of the children ask when we are going to have snack the old way, they obviously liked it that way, but others like it the new way.

The staff used to have snack with their groups - now they are finding it difficult to find time to snack with them. How do you eat/drink or don't you bother with it?

We originally decided to give it a terms trial (as we do wih any other change) but I am seriously thinking of evaluating at the end of this half term.

We are in a church hall - open from 9am - 12 noon and in just the one room. Snack bar opens from 10-11am. All the children eat and drink in this hour but the staff on snack duty says she doesn't have much time to talk to individual children as we used to do. We have 5 staff - two are with the older children that leaves 3 with about 17 children. One doing snack, one an activity of some sort and one 'floating' (toilet run etc).

I visited two other groups in our area who were reluctant to try snack bar but who now say it's the best thing they have done - it obviously works for them - and perhaps the old way is best for our Pre-school.

Having said all this, we were finding the transition from free play to snack a bit chaotic and were looking for a different way of doing things.

As we only have one room we had to clear 5 tables and set them ready for snack with the children helping.

Any suggestions - are we giving it enough time -


Sorry to go on....



Sue J

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All I can say is that ours opens earlier, a child is chosen at 9am to help prepare foods, then it opens straight after. We do our normal routine around it, ie: story, songs, out for a walk etc leaving the snack bar open but children go to it "after" story, walk etc, not during.


I sometimes have to tell my staff to move away from the snack bar because I am aware that they have "sat" for an hour, when needed elsewhere in the room. The children are very, very independent with ours and require little help. They chat with peers, the adults rotate between themselves to it, for a snack, during the session, tea is drunk in the kitchen though.


Give it time, but don't feel you have to keep at it if you feel it isn't working. Maybe a compromise, drinks all the time a a few children at a time rotated for snacks, during the morning ( saves moving furniture). What works for some doesn't for others, but I would try and stick to a full term trial period, change of routine takes time to embed.



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Where i used to work we had a snack bar, but the children also wased and dried their pots. We has a homecorner with a sink and the children really enjoyed cleaning up after themselves :D (we did secretly re-wash theplatesand cups when no-one was looking just to makesure that they were actually clean :o )

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Where i used to work we had a snack bar, but the children also wased and dried their pots.  We has a homecorner with a sink and the children really enjoyed cleaning up after themselves  :D (we did secretly re-wash theplatesand cups when no-one was looking just to makesure that they were actually clean :o )




This is one of our action plans from QA module 4 to develop in September, plus shopping for the snack bar food as a group. :D



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