The Best Sensory Food Challenges for a Rainy Summer Day

When the summer sun is hiding behind the clouds and raindrops are falling like now in the UK, it’s the perfect opportunity to bring some fun and excitement indoors. Sensory food challenges are a fantastic way to engage children’s senses, stimulate their curiosity, and keep them entertained during those rainy summer days. These activities not only provide hours of fun but also promote sensory development and can even help picky eaters become more adventurous.

Here at Nutrition4kids we are passionate about helping parents with children that have food sensory challenges, food fun is a key strategy that works. Here are some of the best sensory food challenges to have a go at during the rainy days! 

1. Blindfolded Taste Test

What You Need:

  • Various foods with distinct flavours (e.g., fruits, vegetables, cheeses, snacks)
  • Blindfolds
  • Small plates or bowls

How to Play:

Blindfold each family member and offer them a taste of different foods. Have them guess what they are tasting without using their sight. This challenge encourages children to focus on their sense of taste and smell, making it a fun and educational activity.

Tips:

  • Use a mix of familiar and new foods to keep it interesting.
  • Discuss the flavours and textures after each taste test.
  • Go at a pace that your child is comfortable with and step when they have had enough. 

2. Texture Exploration

What You Need:

  • Foods with a variety of textures (e.g., cooked pasta, rice, pudding, crackers)
  • Bowls or containers

How to Play:

Fill bowls with different textured foods and let children explore them with their hands. Encourage them to describe how each food feels—smooth, sticky, crunchy, etc. This activity helps children become more comfortable with different textures and can reduce food aversions.

Tips:

  • Cover the table with a plastic tablecloth or use a large tray to contain the mess.
  • Offer utensils like spoons and forks to add another layer of exploration.

3. Flavour Matching Game

What You Need:

  • Pairs of foods with similar flavours (e.g., different types of apples, various cheeses, different flavoured yoghurts)
  • Index cards
  • Markers

How to Play:

Label each food item with a number and write the corresponding numbers on index cards. Mix up the cards and challenge participants to match the foods with similar flavours. This game enhances children’s ability to distinguish subtle differences in taste.

Tips:

  • Make it a timed challenge for added excitement.
  • Discuss the similarities and differences in flavours after the game.

4. Colourful Food Art

What You Need:

  • A variety of colourful fruits and vegetables
  • Plates or trays
  • Plastic knives (for older children) or pre-cut pieces (for younger children)

How to Play:

Encourage children to create pictures or patterns using colourful foods. This challenge not only stimulates creativity but also allows children to explore different colours and shapes. They can even taste their creations afterwards! We love using the rainbow and animals for inspiration. 

Tips:

  • Offer a theme or prompt to inspire their creations (e.g., create a rainbow, a garden, or an animal).
  • Take photos of their food art before eating it.

5. Mystery Food Feel Box

What You Need:

  • An empty box with a hole cut out for hands to fit through
  • Various foods with interesting textures (e.g., peeled grapes, cooked spaghetti, marshmallows, raw rice)
  • Cloth to cover the hole

How to Play:

Place different foods inside the box, one at a time, and cover the hole with a cloth. Have children reach in and feel the food without looking. They should guess what the food is based on touch alone. This challenge sharpens their sense of touch and builds confidence in trying new textures.

Tips:

  • Use a variety of textures to keep it intriguing.
  • Rotate the foods frequently to maintain interest.

Rainy summer days don’t have to be boring when you have these exciting sensory food challenges at hand. These activities not only keep children entertained but also help them develop a deeper appreciation for different tastes, textures, and smells. Whether it’s through a blindfolded taste test or creating colourful food art, sensory food challenges provide endless opportunities for fun and learning. So next time the rain starts to fall, gather your ingredients and get ready for a day of sensory exploration and discovery!

Sign Up for Our Sensory Support Program!

Ready to embark on a sensory-friendly programme to master mealtimes & feeding challenges with us and Grace a children’s Occupational Therapist from the Sensory Submarine? Sign up for our mailing list today to be among the first to hear about this exciting programme coming September 2024. Join our community, and let’s nurture nutritious habits together!

Written by Dr Kirsty Porter Children’s Dietitian.

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