We are “going green” over here! At 24 months, this young friend has been very enthusiastic about trying all the new activities I can offer her. Meanwhile, I continue to be mindful that as a toddler she still “mouths” objects occasionally as she works to learn and satisfy her innate urges. 

She has developed and grown so much in the past few months and is increasingly aware that, e.g., paint brushes are intended for transferring paint and/or glue to paper and that animal figures are for hands-on play. Nonetheless, I’m still careful about the size and safety of each material and toy that could be chewed or taste-tested. 

In response to her needs and readiness for more skill building, I decided to offer an activity that encouraged multiple senses, hands-on learning and was taste-friendly. By chance, I found this wooden tray with six identical small cups at a local store. Each cup rests in place on the tray thanks to recessed imprints on the board. This feature makes it easier to carry and work with.

After rinsing each, I added three “green” (organic) vegetable options to the top row of cups that she could explore safely and sensorially — including taste, chew or eat. The bottom row remains empty for discarded strings, peeled leaves and shelled peas. Before inviting her to take a turn, I demonstrated how to work with each:

1. Small celery sticks often have a few tough ‘strings’ to pull away and leaves to remove from each small stalk. 

2. Brussels sprouts to peel.

3. Sugar snap peas and the removal of each pea. Note: Because the pods can be challenging to open, they can be opened in advance or prepare to help as needed. 

The edible raw vegetables can also be cooked and enjoyed or shared with pets and/or outdoor animals. Be creative! This activity can include tasting and exploring many other vegetables, fruits, grains and seeds, dairy products, spices and more. The options are many and can grow with the child’s palate and interest making it a great way to introduce new foods and flavors. To keep the activity “green”, please sure to buy local and/or organic when possible. 

Note:Foods used should be chosen based on the individual child’s abilities and with safety in mind (allergies and choking potential considered).

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