Three Food Games to Entertain Your Kids for Hours
Have you ever told your kids to stop playing with their food?
In this article I’ll show you how you and your kids can use food for science projects, art and buildings.
Your kids may just learn a few things by playing with their food.
Why Play With Food?
There’s something neat about using food for science experiments, art projects or building blocks. My kids love to take items they usually use in certain ways and repurpose them.
You could choose to do just one of these activities for some quick after-dinner entertainment or do all three of them to spend a great afternoon playing with food.
This is the least time-consuming of the three activities, as it can be done in about 10-15 minutes. It’s educational (eggs-ucational?), but also fun.
The project will demonstrate the concept of density. If the egg is denser than the liquid it is placed into, it will sink. If it’s not, it will float.
You will need:
- Hardboiled eggs: you’ll need either three total or three for each child. It’s a three-part experiment, so we gave each of our three kids one egg and let them do one part. You could also give each child three eggs so that they can perform all three eggsperiments themselves.
- Water: lukewarm water works best to dissolve the salt.
- Vegetable oil: enough to fill a glass one-third to halfway with the oil.
- Kosher salt: about half a cup of salt per glass. I recommend Kosher salt because you can also use it for the next project. If you don’t have kosher salt, you can use table salt or even sugar.
- Glasses: one glass per egg (so at least three glasses). Wide-bottomed glasses are less likely to get knocked over when children are using them.
- Spoons: to mix the salt into each glass of salt water.
Let’s Get Started
Glass #1: Water. Fill the first glass with plain water.
Glass #2: Oil. Fill the second glass a quarter of the way with oil and the remainder with water.
Glass #3: Salt. First add around half a cup of salt. This doesn’t have to be measured out exactly – just remember that you have to add a decent amount of salt to make the eggsperiment effective.
Pour lukewarm water over the salt. Mix with a spoon until the salt dissolves.
Take a Guess
Ask your children to predict which liquid will make the eggs float and which will let the eggs sink.
Here’s how our guesses went:
- Water – 2 votes for sink, 1 for float
- Oil – 2 votes for float, 1 for sink
- Salt – 2 votes for sink, 1 for float
What did your family guess?
Add the Eggs
Drop one hardboiled egg into each glass and check out the results. Did your children guess correctly? Do they think it’s science – or magic?
Post Eggsperiment Discussion
After you finish this project, talk about what you learned. Why can a person float more easily in the ocean than in a swimming pool? Look at pictures of the ocean, the Dead Sea and the Great Salt Lake online.
#2: Artful Food
Food comes in all kinds of neat shapes, sizes and colors. That makes it perfect to create art projects! One of the easiest and most fun art projects you can do is to make a collage with food.
I’ve listed some foods below, but feel free to use your imagination as to what foods could work for your collage. Just make sure they’re dry foods. Foods with a lot of moisture can cause the paper to rip. They may also make your artwork smell funny and eventually rot.
Note: warn younger kids to not eat the food used in this project. It will get dirty and covered with glue and some of it is a choking hazard when it’s not cooked.
You will need:
- Kosher salt: a great substitute for glitter. Coarse sugar or other coarsely ground salts work equally well. Fancier salts come in a variety of colors like pink, red, black, brown, and gray, which make them nice for art projects. You can also dye your “glitter” with a few drops of food coloring.
- Pasta in different shapes: noodles with flatter sides are easier to glue onto the paper.
- Dried legumes: they come in neat shapes and colors, too. Try red lentils, green split peas, white navy beans, black beans, speckled pinto beans and more.
- Bowls: You can use a separate bowl for each food item (like lasagna noodles in one and macaroni in another) or mix several types of the same food together (like all the pastas in one large bowl) – whatever makes you happiest.
- Construction paper: heavy paper will hold the weight of the pasta best. You can also use card stock or poster board. Keep in mind that if you use a large canvas, you’ll need a bigger space to display it. (You know your kids will want to hang their artwork for everyone to see!)
- Markers: crayons or colored pencils work just fine, but I prefer markers because of the vibrant colors.
- Glue: glue sticks are convenient, but liquid glue is stronger. If your kids have the patience to wait for liquid glue to dry (my younger ones usually don’t), I recommend using that.
Let’s Get Started
Gather your materials. Clear off a counter or a flat space that’s easy to wipe clean once the project is done.
You might have to leave the artwork to dry for a bit once it’s done, so don’t, for example, create your artwork on the dining room table right before you’re going to eat a meal (I speak from experience – doh!).
Explain the Activity
You can give your kids a theme (like “make a picture of our family” or “create your ideal vacation land”) or you can just let their imaginations run wild. I love to see the ideas my kids come up with and the range of styles they have.
Make the Collages
Draw a picture on the paper and give it color, texture and shape by gluing on food.
Help your children if they need it and be sure to make a collage yourself. It’s fun to do and it will show your kids that you’re never too old to enjoy the creative process.
Let the Glue Dry
If you forget this step, the food will slip off of the paper. Make the pictures in the evening and let them dry while you sleep.
Have an Art Show
Hang your artwork. Admire your wonderful creations. You can even invite friends or family members to come view your masterpieces – and maybe make some food art of their own!
#3: Build Your Own Food Pyramid
I love gingerbread houses and other gingerbread creations. I’ve seen some amazing ones and even tried making a few. They came out pretty spectacular (if I do say so myself) but they were time-consuming to make and would not be a great project for children who don’t have a lot of patience.
Graham cracker creations simplify the gingerbread house concept. Graham crackers are very consistent in shape and they’re light so it’s easy to “glue” them together with frosting.
Although I like to make pyramids, you could also try rectangular houses or other shapes – use your imagination!
You will need:
- Graham crackers: seven crackers (more if you want to make a larger pyramid).
- Frosting: make your own frosting or buy it premade. Frosting that’s in a tube is easier to guide. Use colored frosting to give your pyramid a little extra pizzazz.
- Cutting board: you could make your pyramid on any flat surface, but a cutting board base makes it easy to transport the pyramids to other locations.
- Aluminum foil: cover the cutting board (or flat surface) with aluminum foil to make the building surface smoother and easier to “glue” things onto. It also makes cleanup a lot easier.
- Candy and cookies: use these to decorate your pyramid and the area around it. Colored hard candies, neat-shaped gummy snacks, licorice whips, lollipops and marshmallows work well and look great. Stay away from chocolate candies, which will melt in your hands while you’re decorating.
Construct Your Food Pyramid
Everyone should wash his/her hands first.
Prepare a building surface. Cut a piece of foil that is larger than the cutting board. Be careful of the sharp cutting edge of the foil container. Making sure the foil stays as flat as possible, wrap it around the cutting board.
Build and Decorate Your Pyramid
Put a line of frosting on the foil. It should be the length of the small end of a graham cracker. Draw a second parallel line about two inches away.
Place one graham cracker in each line, narrow side down. Lean them toward one another at the top until they resemble an upside down V.
“Glue” the tops together with some frosting.
Using that same technique, make a second upside down V next to the first.
Put a little extra frosting on top of each upside-down V.
Lay a graham cracker flat across the top of the two upside down Vs.
Squeeze two more lines of frosting—one across either end of the horizontal graham cracker. Be gentle or the whole thing may come tumbling down like a house of cards.
Using the same method, form another upside-down V out of two more graham crackers.
“Glue” the tops together with frosting to complete your two-story pyramid.
The instructions here are for a smallish pyramid, but if you make the base wider by adding more upside-down Vs, you will be able to build a taller structure.
Let the pyramid dry for at least 15 minutes. If you skip this step and go straight to the decorating step, your pyramid may fall apart.
Decorate Your Pyramid
Spread frosting wherever you want to add candies or cookies. You can decorate the surrounding area (the cutting board), too.
Press the decorations into the frosting to make them stick. Be gentle! If you use too much pressure, the crackers will break.
Eat Your Creation
A nice thing about this activity is that you can eat your masterpiece when you’re done.
It’s not every day you can play with your food and eat it too!
Some Final Thoughts…
I hope you and your children enjoy these three fun food projects. Can you think of any other new ways to use things that we usually eat?
What do you think? Tell me ways that you and your kids play with your food! I can’t wait to see pictures of your fun food activities. Share your thoughts and photos in the comments below or continue the conversation with me on Twitter: @HollyChessman.
Holly (@HollyChessman) is the co-founder of bozmyn, the secure, private, family-friendly social sharing site that lets you share what you want with who you want – and only who you want. Other posts by Holly Chessman »