Mealtime Activities

Yum!  It’s time to eat… and time for some listening and spoken language!  Here are some everyday opportunities to incorporate auditory-verbal principles into everyday meals.

  • Naming all the different foods — don’t be afraid to get specific (it’s not just bread, it’s a slice of wheat bread with  crust), utensils, appliances, containers, etc.

  • Asking for help — help peeling, unwrapping, slicing, cutting, heating, opening, etc.  Remember to say please, thank you, and you’re welcome!

  • Listening opportunities — crunching, wrappers crinkling, silverware clinking on the side of the plate, slurping (is rudeness okay if it’s a teachable moment?), listening for the microwave to beep, etc.

  • Concepts like half/whole, more/less, same/different, empty/full, hot/cold, etc.

  • Synonyms — how many different ways can you think of to say the same thing?  Done/finished/all gone, crunch/bite/chew, trash/garbage/throw it away, clean/wash/scrub/wipe/dry, etc.

  • Life Skills like good manners, safety (using knives, careful around ovens, asking for help when needed), food preparation, etc.

  • Talk with your mouth full.  (WHAT!?!)  If you’re going to talk with your mouth full, it’s only polite to cover it with your hand!  This cues the child to focus on listening, rather than lipreading.  Also, talking with food in your mouth will make your speech sound different, and children will learn to adapt their listening to difficult situations.

  • Cause and Effect  — “Why is your tongue blue?” “Because I ate a fruit roll-up” “Why is your lunchbox empty?” “Because I ate all of my food” “Why is that pizza hot?” “Because I put it in the microwave”

  • Don’t be afraid of a challenge!  (This is one of the hardest things for me to remember!)  Is the word, “utensils” too hard for a 3-year-old?  Is it really necessary to say “my Diet Coke” instead of “my drink” when a child asks you?  Isn’t “mayo” so much easier than “mayonnaise”?  YES… but that’s the point!  Even if a child might not give this language back to you expressively, the more exposure they have to good models of advanced adult language, the more that incidental learning will creep into their brains.  You’ll be surprised at how much of it they really do retain and say back to you… usually when you least expect it!

Little ears are listening!  Give them some FOOD for thought!

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