Nature Game for Kids: Snacking with Animals

Feb 25, 2015

This far, we have been fortunate enough to avoid battles over eating with our toddler. His appetite was on par with his curiosity when it came to trying new foods, and he soon started sharing meals with us, without much trouble. Still, there were certain ingredients that were often found in our food that he avoided. Like carrots. Boiled or raw, carrots found no favour.

Then we built a snowman outside this winter, and I showed my son how a carrot can become a snowman's nose. Well! He has never forgotten it, and has taken to requesting a carrot for his snack.

This story was my inspiration for a simple game that could encourage children to try new foods, while teaching a few facts about eating habits from the animal world. Many toddlers show interest in animals, and my son is no exception. To encourage his interest, we gathered a variety of different toy animals, and he tended to them dutifully, bathing with a whale in the evenings and sharing an occasional cookie with a gorilla. He loved feeding the animals! And this game was all about feeding.

Preparing the Game

1. In preparation for the game,  I first checked what was in the pantry and fridge. Nuts, carrots, apples, strawberries, milk... our afternoon snack.
2. Instead of putting food on a plate, I arranged everything on a white sheet of paper. On the other side of the sheet, I chose to put one toy animal that eats nuts, one that eats carrots, one that eats apples, and so on. Five types of food, and five animals. Be careful to avoid perpetrating misconceptions. My primary candidate for a carrot was a rabbit, but having double-checked, I found out that carrots are a treat for pet rabbits only, and it is not recommended to give them many carrots at all. The staple of their diet is hay, which was not on our snack menu.
3. As the last step, I took a marker and made a labyrinth-like line that went from the animal to its favourite snack. Whoa, I liked puzzling over such labyrinths when I was a kid! Now, I finally got to making one.

These three steps only add a few minutes to preparing a snack!

Playing the Game

Following the lines, the child can find a snack for each animal. With older children, this game can encourage a talk about carnivorous, herbivorous and omnivorous animals. Ask them whether they know any other animals that may be interested in this particular food. Discuss what else these animals eat.
As for younger children, they will simply delight in demonstrating how their toys can eat. A ferocious “Um-num-num!” is my son's idea of a robin eating a strawberry. And of course, he couldn't help but assist in devouring the berry.

Article Author Liska Myers
Liska Myers

When not constructing lego towers and measuring the depth of puddles with her son, Liska likes to work on toys for him. Her blog Adventure in a Box is a collection of ideas on how to fill a playroom with unique homemade toys: build a fairy tree house, cut shadow puppets, give a makeover to old wooden blocks and so on. Liska also enjoys reading, painting, and exploring outdoors. You can follow her family's life and adventures on her blog, Facebook and Instagram.

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