Food Detectives at WEEFWC
At the Early Education and Family Wellness Centre children are participating in the food detectives program. This program is a way for children to explore food in a safe and fun environment. Children are exposed to foods that they may not have experienced before, with a focus on exposure to different textures and properties. We are working hard as a staff to eliminate judgements of food, such as yummy and yucky, and instead focus on the sensory properties, such as wet, dry, crunchy, squishy, etc. This helps children to be more open to experiencing things, when we haven’t already placed a judgement on it.
One of the most popular activities in food detectives is the bite and drop bin where children practice holding food in their teeth and dropping it into a water table filled with coloured water. Children have the opportunity to playfully engage with food that they might not otherwise feel safe putting in their mouth. There is no expectation of eating the food, but rather the focus is on exposure without pressure. When we do the bite and drop we talk about the properties of the food in our hands and mouth, as well as in the water. For example, we watch which ones sink and float. We make predictions about what will happen if we leave the food in the water, and then we come back later to explore the food with our hands. We again talk about the food in terms of its sensory properties, discussing whether the food changed or stayed the same.
Food detectives is a team approach. It is planned by our Occupational Therapist and Speech Language Pathologists, and is implemented in conjunction with classroom staff. Through the process, staff are able to learn how to best support children who are selective eaters.