Written By: Olivia Haase | Dietetic Intern

The summer is a great time to involve your children in the kitchen. New flavors and textures can give children a way to explore food while expanding their palates and exposing them to new foods and cooking skills. There are a multitude of ways to instill a love for food and foster their creativity. Keep your children busy, engaged, and excited about cooking with these simple and fun food-related activities.

  1. Make DIY Popsicles: Homemade popsicles are always a winner. Encourage your kids to come up with their own flavors, using juice, yogurt, and fruit to come up with refreshing combinations. Help them to explore their creativity by mixing and matching flavors. Once the popsicles have set in the freezer, have fun a taste testing all of the popsicles and pick the best flavor!
  2. Have an Outdoor Picnic: Set up a picnic blanket in a shady spot in the grass and let your kids pack up a basket of food to enjoy outdoors. Encourage them to choose their favorite fruits, sandwiches, and snacks. Anything goes! Eating outdoors is a great way to connect children with nature and outdoor creative play. This is a great time to instill the value of taking care of nature: don’t forget to clean up your refuse on the out!
  3. Create DIY Ice Cubes: An even simpler take on the DIY Ice cubes. Freeze different fruit and juices in ice cube trays with water. Note: this is a great way to increase excitement around drinking water and bonus points for a great way to beat the heat and stay hydrated.
  4. Farmers Market Scavenger Hunt: Connect your kids to an array of seasonal vegetables and local goods by visiting your local Farmers Market. Create a scavenger hunt game and have your kids find certain items. Sunflowers, beets, kale, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables are easy and fun to find. This game encourages exposure, visual stimulation, and connection to the local community.  Bonus points to have them pick out one new vegetable each and come up with a creative way to prepare what they picked out.
  5. Start a Small Vegetable Garden: Encourage your child’s connection to growing their own food. No formal gardening space or experience required. Take any container, fill it with soil and plant seeds according to the package. Watch the seeds grow while teaching your children how to plant and care for a living thing. Bonus points, harvest vegetables and make a new recipe!
  6. DIY Recipe Book: Help your kids write their own recipe books. Encourage them to think of their favorite foods or dishes they have eaten before. Instruct them to find a recipe online and transcribe into one place for safe keeping. They can design the layout, make designs, or write about the time they enjoyed the dish. This can be done by hand or virtually! If virtually, you can print it out and share with friends and family.
  7. Tie-Dye with Food Scraps: A favorite eco-and-kid-friendly activity! Use old scraps from food and give old clothes new life! Remember to supervise your kids throughout the tie-dye process. Food scraps that can dye clothes include beets, spinach, onion peels, avocado peels, cabbage, or coffee grounds. See this article for a quick how-to.

Keeping kids engaged and entertained this summer with these activities helps to foster creativity and exploration while exposing children to new foods, flavors, and textures. From connecting to the local community with a Farmers Market Scavenger hunt to DIY Recipe books at home, these low-cost, easy activities will provide for an educational, fun, and engaging summer! The memories and skills they gain from these food activities will last far beyond the summer months. Happy Summer!