Keeping kids busy during the winter break can make the holidays less stressful for everyone! Here are a few holiday food crafts that will keep children focused on a fun fine motor and sensory task. These activities are especially great for picky eaters, as they expose kids to new foods through crafting instead of eating, which helps them gain familiarity with the foods (and increases the likelihood that they will eat it!).
Holiday Bracelet Craft: This edible craft is sure to be a hit! You can make the ingredients healthier with gluten free cereal or dried and dehydrated fruit (which also provide a twist on texture and taste). In our example we used dried and dehydrated cranberries. You can also make candy bracelets by using tiny green marshmallows and sugary green cereal for a holiday-themed treat. Use your child’s favorite snacks to make your own edible creations!
Cereal, dried fruit, popcorn, tiny marshmallows (get creative!)
Blunt needle, yarn needle or sewing needle (based on child’s age)
Lay out all of the ingredients within reach for your children (we used the Play Mat here). Take your needle and thread it with your cording. Start placing the needle through the food items until you have enough to make a bracelet. Tie the ends together and enjoy your edible holiday treat!
Feeding Tip: With luck, you will have your child munching away while performing this craft…especially since they will be focused on the craft itself! You can also talk about texture. For example, you can chat about the stickiness of the food or how some foods crumble when you put the needle through it. Talk about how the “crumbly” foods may be easier to chew and swallow.
Holiday Pasta Craft: Pasta crafts have been around since I was a kid (and that was a long time ago!). Many therapists that specialize in feeding therapy think there is a link between children playing with food and then eventually eating that food. This is why I like to have my feeding clients explore food crafts! With this activity, try using pasta that your child has not tried before (perhaps a different shape or texture). In our example we used Ziti, Rigatoni, Farfalle and Pipe Rigate.
Uncooked pasta in different shapes and/or textures
Food coloring (green and red)
Sandwich bags (I like the red and green ones for holiday crafts)
Place 20 drops of food coloring into the sandwich bags. Add 2 tsp. of vinegar to the bag. Note – you can add more or less food coloring and vinegar depending on how strong you want your color or how much pasta you are using. Add ½ cup of the uncooked pasta to the colored mixture. Then close the bag and have your child shake it up. Let the pasta soak up the coloring for about 15 minutes, then give it a few more shakes. Take the pasta out of the bag and place on some aluminum foil or waxed paper to dry. Some of the pasta will stick together, so separate with a fork before the drying process.
Feeding Tip: Once the pasta has dried you can do a variety of pre-feeding tasks, like working on your child’s pincer grasp, talking about texture, using utensils to move the pasta from one section of the Play Mat to another and so much more! You can also incorporate language and educational-based activities like the concept of ‘more’ and ‘less,’ sequencing, sorting, color naming, writing and counting.
Holiday Reuse/Recycle Crafts: Keeping costs low for crafting activities is especially important during the holidays (you likely are spending more than usual on gifts, decorations and food). I like to reuse and recycle materials to make crafting inexpensive. In the spirit of cost-saving activities, you can also try the following crafts using the ingredients from the bracelet and pasta food crafts above!
- Holiday Necklace: Use the cording from the Holiday Bracelet Craft and the Holiday Pasta to make a holiday pasta bracelet, necklace or garland. One of my feeding clients made a garland for his Elf on the Shelf to hang on. How cute!
- Holiday Art: Use the pasta from the above project to make some art. Your child will need markers, paint or crayons, paper and glue to make a holiday food art project worthy of refrigerator display status.
I hope you and your family enjoy these fun crafts! Do you have a holiday food craft that is a tradition in your family? What crafts does your family enjoy that incorporates food? #ezpzfun #crafts #food
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 26 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning Tiny Cup & Tiny Spoon (for infants) and the Mini Cup + Straw Training System & Mini Utensils (for toddlers).