What are educational and fun ways to teach kindergarten aged kids to chew?
Teaching kindergarten-aged kids to chew effectively can be both educational and fun. Here are some suggestions for engaging activities to help teach them this important skill:
- Food Exploration: Introduce a variety of age-appropriate foods with different textures, such as soft fruits, vegetables, cereals, and bread. Encourage children to explore and experiment with chewing by trying different foods and noticing the differences in taste, texture, and sensation.
- Chewy Snacks: Offer chewy snacks like dried fruits, gummy bears, or fruit leathers. These snacks provide resistance and encourage repetitive chewing motions.
- Chewing Games: Create interactive games that involve chewing motions. For example, you can play “Chewing Race” where children chew a piece of food and see who finishes first. This adds an element of competition and makes chewing a fun activity.
- Storytelling: Use storytelling to explain the importance of chewing. Choose a character who encounters difficulties because they don’t chew their food properly. Demonstrate how chewing helps break down food and make it easier to swallow and digest.
- Chewing Songs: Invent catchy songs or rhymes about chewing to make it memorable and enjoyable. Sing them together during snack times or as part of a chewing-focused activity. This can help reinforce the concept and make it a fun experience.
- Model Chewing: As a teacher or caregiver, model proper chewing techniques while eating in front of the children. Emphasize opening and closing the mouth, moving the jaw up and down, and taking time to chew each bite thoroughly.
- Sensory Activities: Engage children in sensory play by providing them with textured toys or objects to chew on, such as safe teething toys or chewable necklaces. This helps develop their oral muscles and gives them a positive chewing experience.
- Chewing Worksheets: Use age-appropriate worksheets that feature pictures of different foods. Have children colour the foods and draw lines to indicate where they should chew. This visual exercise helps reinforce the concept of chewing.
Remember to always supervise children closely during chewing activities and ensure they are using safe and appropriate food items. Encourage positive reinforcement and patience throughout the learning process, as mastering chewing skills may take time for some children.
Leanne Hopkins is an Occupational Therapist at Succeed Healthcare Solutions and is passionate about creating a world where families thrive. If you are a parent or carer who would like assistance with your child’s independence with eating/feeding, please contact us and arrange a free 15-minute Discovery Interview to see how we can assist.