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Daycare using food for play or art, WWYD?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I need helping bringing up the subject of how they use food for art/ sensory play - I would prefer if they didn't, or if they do to use healthier options.

DD's Daycare once a week has some activity that involves food, and not really in a learning about nutrition way.

Pudding finger painting
Coolwhip finger painting
playing with jello
cookie crisp mosaics

There are some upcomming activities that I don't totally object too, making apple tarts, but I'm not sure what it really entails.

With the birth of DD we have made a much bigger effort to be aware of what we are eating, we try to avoid HFCS, and partially hydroginated oils. We are trying to cut back on artificial colors, flavors etc. With DD we are not introducing them at all (thinking once your used to eating them it's harder to stop)

The director of the daycare is aware of our food concerns as far as meals go (and luckly we bring our own) but I have also mentioned in the past that I don't want DD getting those those foods, or I try to bring in a subsitute, but every week it is very difficult to keep up with the food activity and figure out, make and remember to bring the subsitute.

Any suggestions, should I let it go? We tend to be more flexible when traveling or visiting, thinking it is only once and a while, but at daycare it's once a week.

Thanks for any thoughts.
post #2 of 23
I am struggling with the same thing. I found out by a chance visit that one of the activities they were doing in the infant room at my son's daycare, (he was on week 2 there, he was 14 months) was to sprinkle orange Tang (flavored drink crystals) on the table and have the babies rub their fingers in it and eat it.

And it's not just food I'm concerned about. Yesterday they played with shaving cream, (that can't be safe) and last week they made "art" with rock-hard dried lima beans, (many of which ended up scattered throughout the room, I dug some out from under a mat, a toy, the bookshelf...better me than the babes finding them and putting them in their mouths!).

I feel like I keep saying, "Is that safe"? Which kind of sounds like a dumb question, I always get the answer, "oh yeah, we're really careful"

I am thinking of calling the Ministry of Child Services who oversee daycares in our province and asking if they can go in and advise them not to do some of these things...
post #3 of 23
To the OP my reaction was wow, how cool is that. I think babies naturally use their actual food for sensory play. But I would try really hard to bring in substitutes, and then if once in a while I couldn't, let it go I think. Maybe some jars of organic high-quality puree as a backup to anything pudding-like and so on, so that they aren't perishable and you can just keep some?

Monkeybum those do sound unsafe and I'd definitely bring it up with the director. Do they have subsidized spots?
post #4 of 23
To the OP, I guess I feel that when you put your child into child care you lack the ability to control everything that goes on. They WILL be exposed to mainstream influences. GuildJen has a good suggestion that you could ask that they sub with organic baby food for the sensory play, but that will only get you so far. Preschoolers will feel excluded if they can't particpate in fun play! I think it's wonderful that they are offering such cool sensory play experiences. So many centers would avoid those things as too messy

When we were selecting child care we choose a program that has very strict food policies (no sugar snacks even on birthdays, etc.,) now, that said, they still have grilled cheese w/white bread and American cheese slices for snacks (that they make together in class).

You have to pick your battles. I'll take the grilled cheese and Christian programming (we are not religous) to get the Mastered degreed teacher, play based programming, natural playscape, natural cleaning products, etc.

Now, Moneybum, beans are certainly not safe for 14 month olds! Definitly bring that up but shaving cream is very standard sensory play in most programs I know around here.

Finding good childcare is so hard. There is no right answer. Especially when you have non-mainstream views, it is hard to find the right program. I'm a big believer in trusting your gut! If you can't handle your child being exposed to puddding and cookies on a regular basis, you might need to go elsewhere. They won't stop offering these projects because of your views on HFC. And the challenges will only get bigger as your child gets older and asks why they can't do what the other kids are doing, especially if it is an art project or something fun. Alot of kids will adapt to food restrictions but "fun" restrictions are harder to enforce!
post #5 of 23
*sigh*

Childhood is becoming a lost art.

Before you bring this up to your childcare, please try to find (at your library) the book called "Don't move the muffin tins". If they have "Together, we're better" grab that too.

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Move-Muff.../dp/0931540003

http://www.amazon.com/Together-Were-...9324335&sr=1-1

It's an old book, from the early-ish 80s. But, as you look through it, you might see little glimpses from your own childhood.

There is a section on WHY we use food for art or sensory play.

It's not "Mainstream".

When we read the book "If you give a mouse a cookie" we might also glue cookie crisp cereal to a sheet of paper. We might also learn counting while we are at it, and the letter C. All from one activity.

We read "brown bear, Brown Bear what do you see?" and we might paint a bear with chocolate pudding one day. We also learn the color brown, and what chocolate pudding tastes like.

Shaving cream has been around for EONS. Nobody ever got sick from playing with shaving cream. My DH uses it on his face every day. My father did too. (course he's dead now though). Yes, a toddler will put it in his mouth. ONCE.

Our kids aren't idiots. They learn through life. They NEED to have fun, and they need the space to do it without having their every move micromanaged.

Daycare providers and teachers work VERY hard to provide an interesting stimulating enviroment for your kids, and it gets met with "I'm worried that my daughter will develop poor eating habits from gluing cereal to paper".

BUT, I do know that if you bring something that your child can use instead of pudding or jello, (like the organic baby food) they will happily allow that. No teacher will say "oh, we can't it isn't fair". So, when the others are doing a food activity, your child can use her baby food, and she won't be excluded. If they post the activity in advance, you can have time to find something that will be better for your daughter.
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeybum View Post
I am struggling with the same thing. I found out by a chance visit that one of the activities they were doing in the infant room at my son's daycare, (he was on week 2 there, he was 14 months) was to sprinkle orange Tang (flavored drink crystals) on the table and have the babies rub their fingers in it and eat it.
That just sounds gross! Maybe it's not when you're 1, though.

I don't know what I'd do. I don't have a problem with pudding in general, though I make my own. I allow the kids to eat Cool Whip. What I've found with DS, though, is that he doesn't eat things like Cookie Crisp if they're offered to him because he doesn't like them. When you eat whole foods, your body gets used to them, and then other foods don't taste good. I'd probably ask for a list in advance and try to come up with an alternative if possible.
post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeybum View Post
I am struggling with the same thing. I found out by a chance visit that one of the activities they were doing in the infant room at my son's daycare, (he was on week 2 there, he was 14 months) was to sprinkle orange Tang (flavored drink crystals) on the table and have the babies rub their fingers in it and eat it.

And it's not just food I'm concerned about. Yesterday they played with shaving cream, (that can't be safe) and last week they made "art" with rock-hard dried lima beans, (many of which ended up scattered throughout the room, I dug some out from under a mat, a toy, the bookshelf...better me than the babes finding them and putting them in their mouths!).

I feel like I keep saying, "Is that safe"? Which kind of sounds like a dumb question, I always get the answer, "oh yeah, we're really careful"

I am thinking of calling the Ministry of Child Services who oversee daycares in our province and asking if they can go in and advise them not to do some of these things...

I work in the infant room at a daycare. In fact, I'm in charge of making the lesson plans for the infant and the 1 year old rooms. Never ever ever would this fly in our daycare. Never. Please bring it up to the director and/or higher up. This cannot be safe, no matter how "careful" they are being.
post #8 of 23
On another list just yesterday we were talking about how great it was for a kid with sensory issues to finger paint with pudding. It put food in a whole new light for him.

I'm just glad that my DD's daycare remembers her food allergies when they plan such things. They asked me several times about coconuts when they had a tropical themed week. With the painting project that involved peanuts they used packing peanuts.
post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post
*sigh*

Childhood is becoming a lost art.

Before you bring this up to your childcare, please try to find (at your library) the book called "Don't move the muffin tins". If they have "Together, we're better" grab that too.

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Move-Muff.../dp/0931540003

http://www.amazon.com/Together-Were-...9324335&sr=1-1

It's an old book, from the early-ish 80s. But, as you look through it, you might see little glimpses from your own childhood.

There is a section on WHY we use food for art or sensory play.

It's not "Mainstream".

When we read the book "If you give a mouse a cookie" we might also glue cookie crisp cereal to a sheet of paper. We might also learn counting while we are at it, and the letter C. All from one activity.

We read "brown bear, Brown Bear what do you see?" and we might paint a bear with chocolate pudding one day. We also learn the color brown, and what chocolate pudding tastes like.

Shaving cream has been around for EONS. Nobody ever got sick from playing with shaving cream. My DH uses it on his face every day. My father did too. (course he's dead now though). Yes, a toddler will put it in his mouth. ONCE.

Our kids aren't idiots. They learn through life. They NEED to have fun, and they need the space to do it without having their every move micromanaged.

Daycare providers and teachers work VERY hard to provide an interesting stimulating enviroment for your kids, and it gets met with "I'm worried that my daughter will develop poor eating habits from gluing cereal to paper".

BUT, I do know that if you bring something that your child can use instead of pudding or jello, (like the organic baby food) they will happily allow that. No teacher will say "oh, we can't it isn't fair". So, when the others are doing a food activity, your child can use her baby food, and she won't be excluded. If they post the activity in advance, you can have time to find something that will be better for your daughter.
Well said!

It's true that some of the food may end up in your child's mouth, but the point of the activity is sensory. Most kids will also try playdoh at least once. I think that it's great that your child's day care will provide messy but fun activities.
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masel View Post
With the painting project that involved peanuts they used packing peanuts.
Be careful with packing peanuts. They can be a hazard around young children.
post #11 of 23
The deed is done. They rolled the packing peanuts around in paint. It's not something we play with at home. The peanuts from a package at work got reused before they were thrown away. I suppose there has to be a sucky angle to everything.
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ubelle View Post
DD's Daycare once a week has some activity that involves food, and not really in a learning about nutrition way.

Pudding finger painting
Coolwhip finger painting
playing with jello
cookie crisp mosaics
This is how it was at the school I taught at in FL. We were required to have a cooking activity once a week. Of course, in the infant/toddler room we had to be a little more creative; hence the pudding fingerpainting.

I agree with the PPs. At this age it is a sensory activity that is safe if they happen to put it in their mouths.

If it bothers you that much, you should bring in substitute materials.
post #13 of 23
I agree with the majority of posters here and think it's a good sensory experience. The point of the food isn't necessarily to eat it, it's to work with it, but I always figured they used food in case the kid DID put it in his mouth. Bev Bos has some wonderful books and ideas on messy play for children. My day care director had been to a seminar of hers and she always had lots of sensory food experiences for the kids.

I think if you are feeding your kid a healthy diet at home, the occasional glob of chocolate pudding or orange tang just isn't going to hurt them. It's just one of the pieces of control you give up when you send your kid out into the world at any age. It's good for us mothers to learn to this, too.
post #14 of 23
As an ECE teacher I can tell you that there are healthier options to all the things you list: you can finger paint with shaving cream (yes, it is safe), or applesauce, or whipped cream that's not too sweet (put the whipping cream in a plastic jar and let the kids roll it around until it's whipped -- leave some in even longer and you have butter!) you can use plain gelatin with a little food coloring, you can use pastini (too small to choke on) or pieces of healthy cereal for mosaics.

Perhaps you can offer these as substitutes.

Having said that, there are some very real arguments for not using food as art at all for children. In some religions and many cultures "wasting" food in this manner is seen as highly offensive. If your center includes children who are experiencing or may have experienced hunger it can be very difficult and confusing for them.

And no way for the lima beans -- sooo unsafe. No excuse for that -- I'd take that to the director.
post #15 of 23
Honestly, I personally would let it go. I can't imagine life in preschool or kindergarten without painting with pudding, etc. It's a great sensory experience (and in fact, having 2 special needs kids, we actually CHEER when we can get the one that is tactile defensive to actually TOUCH the stuff--forget eating it...not going to happen. And she's not even my autistic one--the autistic one spreads it from head to toe and laughs hysterically. : )

I'm all about healthy choices. But I'm also all about letting kids be kids and having fun. If your kid can't participate in even simple art, being alienated by her peers for not being able to do the fun art is far more likely to be harmful to her than a fingerful of pudding. If your feelings are that strong about it, perhaps homeschooling might be a better option. I suppose you could teach your kid that art is not for eating and then she'd just play with it and not eat it.

Now the tang with the 1 year old...that skeeves me out a little. Tang is nasty to begin with, but tang powder must be strong! But I suppose it's safer than the alternatives like sand, etc....
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momily View Post
Having said that, there are some very real arguments for not using food as art at all for children. In some religions and many cultures "wasting" food in this manner is seen as highly offensive. If your center includes children who are experiencing or may have experienced hunger it can be very difficult and confusing for them.
This is what I thought I was going to read when I opened the post.
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
I did talk to DD's teacher, and not in a " I refuse to let this happen way"
I wanted to get a feel for how the activities go - so that I could feel more comfortable with my decision to have DD participate or get substitutes.

I am very aware of the sensory aspect of this type of play, DD has been self feeding since we started solids. - my initial concern is/was the ingrediates we feel are more harmful (HFCS...) and maybe sending the wrong message about food, like a PP mentioned there are children in our town and state that go hungry, and we have children glueing cereal to paper

And I was reassured that DD's teacher understands out feeling on certians food items and that she is very attentive and that DD only get's a small taste of anything.

So I am happy to have talked it out with the teacher.

But the posts here helped my collect my thought to approach the teacher rationally.

Thanks
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by ASusan View Post
This is what I thought I was going to read when I opened the post.
It's how I feel. Playing with food sounds common in other areas. It is not in ours, and I can't imagine I'd be comfortable with my kids' classes wasting food. I have a hard enough time with them throwing out anything the kids don't eat. Didn't take a bite of your apple? Too bad - it's going in the trash instead of back in your lunchbox. I just can't see why playing with food is needed to get sensory experience. Can't this happen in other ways?
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momily View Post

Having said that, there are some very real arguments for not using food as art at all for children. In some religions and many cultures "wasting" food in this manner is seen as highly offensive. If your center includes children who are experiencing or may have experienced hunger it can be very difficult and confusing for them.
.
This is what I was expecting the objection to be as well. And if it were the onjection, then all the more reason to you "junk" food. I wouldn't want to waste organic purees on an art project.
post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandiRhoades View Post
It's how I feel. Playing with food sounds common in other areas. It is not in ours, and I can't imagine I'd be comfortable with my kids' classes wasting food. I have a hard enough time with them throwing out anything the kids don't eat. Didn't take a bite of your apple? Too bad - it's going in the trash instead of back in your lunchbox. I just can't see why playing with food is needed to get sensory experience. Can't this happen in other ways?
Interesting point. I am so not into wasting food, but have let my child play with beans and rice. They are easy to save and reuse though and probably less costly on the environment than other toys.

Playdough is made of food ingredients also and I don't have a problem with making that at home.

Also, I don't much consider Cool Whip "food", so I guess I wouldn't have a problem using that.
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