View Full Version : messy/food play question

18-05-2009, 12:42 PM
I have a question..

When I was little I was always told that we don't play with our food as
it is for eating and not wasting (words of my mum and gran)

No I read a lot of posts about messy play that includes all kinds of food.
And I am wondering

should we show our kids that it is ok to play with food?

I really don't know what to think about this one.
can you please share your thoughts and opionions ??

Thanks a lot

18-05-2009, 12:45 PM
ok ...........................

when my mindees eat they are sat in the kitchen and to the table where appropriate utensils are used and we all eat together.

playing with food as a fun messy activity is done at floor level with messy play aprons or outside never at the table were we eat but I'm lucky to have the extra space to ensure the children can see a difference.

hope that helps you in some way

18-05-2009, 12:56 PM
I went out for dinner with some fellow childminders a couple of weeks ago and we had this very debate.

My opinion is that my children sit at my table or in a highchair for lunch/tea etc.

When we do messy play, we do it on the floor or the tuff spot is on the table (completely covering it). I tell the children what it is we are using ie mashed potato, jelly etc and that its for playing with - stirring, pouring etc - but not eating.

They are fine with this and there hs been no confusion in my experience.

I have just answered another thread about someone who wanted to do messy play with an 8 month old but was worried that would eat everything! In this instant, messy play with food materials is ideal.

18-05-2009, 01:00 PM
Agree with the above. It is all to do with routine and ritual. I wouldn't sit the children at the table/high chair and give them a bowl or plate of stuff to play with.

Messy play is done away from the eating area in a messy play tray (large cat litter tray from Wilkinson's - never used by cats:D ). Children quickly understand the difference.

18-05-2009, 06:15 PM
I have the problem that I don't have anywhere separate to do messy play so it has to be done at the kitchen table siting in their booster seats where they would sit for a meal. My own ds & mindee are 18months & they do get confused when I get the food out for messy play.

Once I've cleaned it up & get them down from the table they cry cos they were expecting to have something to eat :(

I try to do messy play quite soon after a meal or snack time so that they aren't hungry but it's not always practical do do it that way round.

18-05-2009, 06:18 PM
I only use cornflour, uncooked rice/pasta and paint etc for messy play. The pasta and rice could be classified as food but i think that the situation in which we do these things shows the difference and when proper table manners etc are required.

18-05-2009, 06:28 PM
I find it difficult to balance the waste created by using food for crafts / messy play etc with the fact that I remember a childhood when a lot of families didn't have enough food to eat...

18-05-2009, 07:47 PM
I find it difficult to balance the waste created by using food for crafts / messy play etc with the fact that I remember a childhood when a lot of families didn't have enough food to eat...

this is more what I actually meant.
I wasn't too worried about the kids getting confused about when is meal time and when it's playtime, I am more worried about the fact that we teach our kids it's ok to play with food.
As I said all my life it's been drilled into me by my parents and especially from my gran that food is nothing you play with...and I guess it stuck with me.
I just wondered how you all feel about this aspect of food messy play

18-05-2009, 07:50 PM
I dont use food for messy play.

We use playdough, moon sand, jelibath, etc.

18-05-2009, 08:20 PM
I have mixed feelings over this.
firstly i think all children need the opportunity to learn and get messy and enjoy a variety of differnt textures etc
I also feel very strongly when i see tv programs/adds wasting good food , thowing it around etc.
we do use things like pasta, porridge oats for messy play but I defintaly feel guilty sometimes over the amount of waste but then what ever we use for messy play could be classed as one of two things, either a complet waste of resources OR a fun and educational way of teaching children differnt smells, textures etc. therefore i sort of make myself feel ok about using food stuffs by thinking that as long as the children have learnt from the experiance and had fun doing so then its ok.
sorry if thats totaly conflicting and confusing but its just how i feel.

18-05-2009, 08:30 PM
apparantly birds like porridge! so you could always put it on your bird table after, then it wouldn't be a waste:)

18-05-2009, 08:40 PM
I rarely do messy play at home! I try and encourage doing it either at other peoples houses :blush: or certainly in a big group cos by the time I have got it all out they are no longer interested! I did do flour play here the other week - that was fun!! Not sure who enjoyed it most me or them! :laughing:


19-05-2009, 09:18 AM
The only foodstuffs we use for messy play are the uncooked ones, ie, rice, pasta, flour, oats, foods that would not be eaten uncooked and they are used on rare occasions as most of the time I use other mediums for messy play like jellibath, cornflour, playdough, clay. I can't justify wasting loads of food when so many people in the world don't know where their next meal is coming from.

19-05-2009, 12:42 PM
I appreciate people's opinions about food wastage etc. But I think its also a case of everything in moderation.

I dont do messy play with food stuff every day of the week - maybe about once or twice a month. I also try to do it at our childminder drop in group so that lots of children get the benefit of 3 or 4 packs of jelly (we did this last week!).

My Rainbow Rice has been on the go for a few weeks now (uncooked I hasten to add!).

Shoot me if you wish, but I also dont think that by me using 2 or 3 small tins of beans/few packs of jelly/few packets of custard etc for messy play is going to change things for those that are starving in the world. Yes, I feel guilty when I watch and read about these people but I think it needs a world wide effort and not just me not doing messy play to rectify this.

I also think that young children who are playing with jelly/baked beans etc do not know about children who are starving in the world and so they wouldnt need to feel guilty about playing with food. As far as they are concerned, they are playing and having fun.

19-05-2009, 01:05 PM
I posted a question yesterday about suggestions for messy play with a 7 month old who puts everything you give him in his mouth. I got lots of suggestions of foods - which makes sense cos they will do him the least harm when he inevitably puts them in his mouth a second after he has picked them up.

christine e
19-05-2009, 01:48 PM
I totally understand where you are coming from and I too have concerns of playing with food whilst there are children starving to death.

I do use playdough and cornflour mix on a regular basis. I take the children to sure start sessions for messy play and they use porridge, jelly, baked beans, cornflakes, pasta, tapioca pudding etc etc and I am not very comfortable with the fact that this is all thrown away. Obviously the children do play with the stuff at these sessions and they do get a lot out of it but I am not prepared to waste food this way.

This actually brings me on to another thing the last time I attended one of these sessions a child actually sat down at the table and ate up all the jelly!
I thought this was awful as the child was grapping handfulls of jelly and stuffing it into his mouth then going back for me and me thinks no very hygienic! This is the very centre that cannot keep a loaf of glutten free bread in thier freezer for my mindee unless I wrap each slice individually due to food hygiene regs!