Food Exploration in Early Learning and Childcare

kids exploring food wearing chef hats and aprons

Are you an early childhood educator in Manitoba? The BIG Food Book for Little Food Explorers is a food-neutral book that, paired with the Sensory Food Placemat, is meant to be a fun and curious way to explore a variety of foods with early years children (i.e., 3-5 years old).

The Big Food Book and Food Exploration Placemat are an extension program for Little Food Explorers. Food exploration is about giving children the opportunity to experience foods with all their senses. When talking about food keep it simple, factual, and neutral.

Being Food Neutral Means:

  • Exploring foods with the five senses: touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell.
  • Avoid labelling food as ‘healthy or unhealthy’ or ‘good or bad’ or how often (sometimes, everyday) they should be eaten.
  • All food is morally equal.
  • Removing judgment of and value-based labels on food.
  • Referring to foods by their name, for example chips are chips (not junk).

The BIG Food Book follows three steps and the division of responsibility to explore foods and where they come from!  The foods are displayed in alphabetical order so feel free to let your snack and lunch menu guide food exploration.

Step 1 Introduce the food

Step 2 Provide a Tasting Opportunity

Step 3 Link to Family & Home

Remember, you are a role model for little eyes and ears!

What is it?⁠

THE BIG FOOD BOOK: This book sets the stage to expose children to a variety of foods and where they come from in a fun way.⁠

FOOD EXPLORATION PLACEMAT: This is where we have taken food exploration up a notch! Have kids explore food using all 5 senses.⁠

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