play with your food (?)

photo by Balla Tamas

i know. playing with your food is fun. i was an elementary education major and we used them&m counting bookall the time to teach our students math. it was fun.

then, when i began my first children’s ministry job, i created activities for kids that included making art out of food. noodles, coffee beans, and rice are the most perfect supplies for creating necklaces, and flower pictures, and musical instruments.

and all was fine and good. i played with my food and encouraged kids to do the same.

until, i began my next job. teaching underprivileged preschool children at a local head start school, and learned of our playing with food policy: don’t play with food. that was our policy. because 90% of our children were living below the poverty level, we needed to teach them a healthy approach to food. not only how to make nutritional choices, but how to have a positive attitude towards eating by sitting together for meals and learning to how to cook and prepare. and, at the school, we believed that when we used food to play with (create crafts, sort to learn colors or shapes) we were highlighting what you can do with food when you have extra, more than enough, and when you don’t desperately need it for eating – you can play with it, and maybe you start to take advantage of food’s intended purpose.

the policy made a lot of sense to me. in a western mindset, where we (usually) have enough food to eat, when we use our “extra” food for playing, we might unintentionally communicate a sense of wastefulness to our children.

what if, in our churches (whether we have families with plenty or little food) we didn’t use food for playing, but instead used our extras to highlight giving and serving to those without extras?

what do you think? does it make a difference if we play with food in church?


4 responses to this post.

  1. Interesting thought. Honestly, when I first read through the post, I said to myself, “Really? C’mon! What’s the big deal.” But like a “good” learner, I let your post simmer a bit longer. It would be interesting to see if using food items in play like that conveys a more lax attitude towards food. Another question to explore on the same thought would be whether it makes a difference… I would’ve never thought of this in a North American context. Thanks for bringing it up. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts as well.


  2. I reacted similarly to Henry from start to finish. I wouldn’t have even given it a second thought – thanks for posting! Good FOOD FOR THOUGHT! zing.


  3. Posted by Sarah Pickering on July 29, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    When we play with food at BridgKIDS we always eat it after and there’s always a point.
    I love the way Jewish children were taught their letters back in Bible times with portions of the Torah carved on stone and smeared with honey that they traced with their fingers and then licked off. Now that’s playing and learning with food. I think thats something we can do that too.
    Taste and see that the Lord is good!
    🙂 yum


  4. We don’t play with food in our kidmin. It’s not a policy and it wasn’t until recently that we consciously decided not to play with food. I was telling & showing my teachers to get creative with crafts, and one example was using uncooked macaroni. One of my teachers pointed out what you posted about. And that’s when we consciously decided. But I like the idea of playing/learning with food that you eat afterwards!


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